Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Five Days of Fair

The carnies have snubbed out their last cigarettes, the corndog grease has been carefully preserved for next year, and the chicken poop has been hosed out of the poultry barn -- the fair must be over.  Fair time is always a little bittersweet: kids never want it to end, but, like holiday weekends in Amsterdam, if it lasted just one more day they'd probably end up in a gutter.  On Saturday, I explained to Dylan that there was only one more day left of the fair.  I should have kept my trap shut because it led to a twenty minute conversation on why we can't go to the fair every day of the year.  The Amsterdam analogy didn't work so well on her either.

This year, we were fair-heros, at least to Dylan and Grady.  We took them every day.  We learned that Grady loves sprint cars, but hates the earplugs we made him wear.  This made for him being happy-sad-happy-sad at fifteen second intervals.  The cars would scream past us and he'd smile, but when they hit the back stretch he couldn't see them so he'd yank his ear plugs off and start to cry until they zoomed past again.  Smile, cry, smile, fuss.  Over and over.  It was even exhausting for the strangers who sat near us.

Dylan got to sit front and center for the rodeo and, we thought, had the time of her life.  Then Lefty the Rodeo Clown didn't throw her a trick rope and she missed her chance at getting a free t-shirt and suddenly the rodeo wasn't fun anymore.  She told my sister the reasons as she counted them off on her fingers.  "One, I didn't get a yellow rope.  Two, I didn't get to throw the ball.  Three, I didn't get a t-shirt, and, four, I didn't get a blue rope."  She changed her tune when grandma gave her five bucks to buy the clown's "special trick rope" (four feet of cheap rope with a bead on the end), and now she wants to be a rodeo queen again.  Although, she still won't Mutton Bust (to my relief).  We asked her if she'd like to ride a sheep.  "No," she replied, "I'll just ride a bus."  Good enough.

Grady's at the awkward age and height where he can't go on too many carnival rides.  By "too many" I mean he can't go on anything but the little train.  While it was the only ride he could go on, it was the only ride I couldn't (too many corndogs in my belly), so we had to recruit friends, family, or random passersby to escort him.  Dylan went on all sortsakinda rides (her words), and couldn't get enough of the Fun House, until she fell on her butt and had to be carried out.  I was pleased that our spin on the Dizzy Dragons didn't make her as nauseous as it made me.

On the fair's last day, we packed in as many rides, fried foods, walks through the livestock barns, Smokey Bear hugs, and shaved ices as we could.  And it worked.  Grady fell asleep in his stroller (which he never does), and Dylan didn't protest at all when we told her it was time to go.  We have spent the last two days getting the fair out of their systems.  Fried fair food is fun to eat, and even more fun when it's released as a gas.  Dylan and Grady's farts would knock a buzzard off a meat wagon.  But, if that's the worst result from five days of debauchery, then we're doing alright.  It's sure cheaper then sending them to Amsterdam for the weekend.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Nearly Home Alone

Regina's plans were to take the kids to the Bay Area for the weekend.  My plans were to stay home, cut hay, put hygiene on hold, and eat hot dogs.  We'd both been planning for months.  Regina packed, I Googled "hot dogs + bourbon" and found several dinner ideas. I put Red Dawn and Uncommon Valor on my Netflix queue.  It was going to be a spectacular manly weekend.  But sometimes life gets in the way and Regina, instead, went to Bakersfield and left me with the kids.

As she was walking toward the car, getting ready to leave, I started to panic.  The stupid questions started flowing: Does Grady eat food?  What if Dylan starts the chainsaw?  Where are the hot dogs?  "You can figure it out. You're a big boy," she told me.  Exactly, I thought, the key word there being boy.  Who leaves their kids with a boy?

We are fortunate to live near family, and even more fortunate to live near family members who still like our kids.  So, while I worked, the monkeys spent time with their cousins, aunts, and grandparents.  My only directions were to make Grady walk as much as possible and to never, ever feed Dylan after midnight.

Our first day without Regina started rough.  Grady pooped his way through a pack of diapers and Dylan got in a MMA fight with a cat.  I thought, "You're a big boy, you can handle it," as I changed the ump-teenth diaper and cleaned up Dylan's wounds.  Luckily, it got better.  Each evening, I'd hustle home from work, pick up the kids, and get them ready for dinner and bed.  Grady would get his fraternity-shower (I'd rub a wet wash-cloth over him) and I'd put him down for bed.  Then I'd spend the next 2 or 3 hours listening to him reflecting on the highlights of the day.  Ah, hugging Nacho -- is there anything more fun?  Man, those cookies Julie made are going to go straight to my hips! and, I wonder if Gramma even knows I snagged her Lego-man?  He hollers, coos, sings, and yells until the party ends and he passes out.

I did the right thing and put the hot dogs back in the refrigerator and fed Dylan healthier dinners.  While we ate, she'd regale me with accounts of her day.  I usually didn't really understand who or what she was talking about and it took me until the fourth day to realize that she was telling me about episodes of cartoons that she watched that day.  She'd spend fifteen minutes watching "Olivia" somewhere, then spend the rest of the day playing outside, and all she wanted to talk about was Olivia's little brother who rode in a hot air balloon.

Currently, Regina is on a train heading north, and we can't wait to see her.  "I miss Mommy," Dylan keeps telling me.  And, instead of asking, "Really?" (which is what Regina said to me when I told her what Dylan said) I tell her that I miss her too.  Grady has some cool new walking moves that he's excited to show off, Dylan is going to recreate all the Shark Week episodes we watched together, and me -- I'm just proud that the house stayed reasonably clean, I didn't leave anyone in the truck, and there are still hot dogs in the fridge, just waiting for my next bachelor weekend.