Grady, too, was finally tall enough for rides slightly more exciting than his two choices from last year: the "Slow Train to Nowhere," and the Carousel. We'd zip down the super slide, hit the Boingy Cars, roll on the Topsy Turvy Scurvy Ship and end up on the Go Gator -- a small roller-coaster that he loved. The 105 degree afternoons were the only thing that slowed our roll, otherwise we'd probably be in an old RV, following the carnival across the west.
Dylan really got sucked in by the carnival games this year. I wanted her to learn that the prize isn't worth the investment without emptying her (or my) entire piggy bank. She packed $10 in her Hello Kitty purse and set off. The first hawker was for a game so that is so ridiculous, and easy, that they prey on the young and weak. You pay $3, pull a rubber duck from a water trough, and get a prize. That's it. Of course, Dylan wanted to spent all her money there, but this year was about learning lessons, so we moved on. The Dart at Balloon lady wanted Dylan to give her $5 to toss a couple of darts. I tried to explain that that seemed a little high for a little girl who was more likely to stick the dart in her toe than pop a balloon, but she wouldn't budge on the price. I let my "Board President" badge reflect in the sunlight but she couldn't see it through her red eyes, so we left.
We skipped any game that involved tossing heavy balls at even heavier milk bottles, or ones that the prize was a "Slippery When Wet" mirror, or any that required one to toss a basketball through a hoop that was smaller than the ball. Then the fish caught her eye. For a couple of bucks, Dylan got fifteen ping-pong balls and had to land one in a jar with a tiny mouth. It's an impossible game unless you want to spent $40 on a goldfish that has a lifespan of twelve minutes. Perfect. Low investment, long play time, no worthless return, and a valuable lesson learned. I was pretty smug until I heard the plunk of a ball landing in water.
So, we came home with two fish that didn't live to see the following weekend. Dylan is now a carnival expert and Grady treats every car ride like he's back on the Go Gator (he unbuckles and stands up with his hands in the air). Minus the cigarettes and poor dental hygiene, Regina and I are like the carnies. We make sure they stay safe, we buckle them in, and we give them crappy prizes when they do something good. And 2012 is now officially the Year of the Fish.