I am slowly recovering from the Frenzy of Fair we were involved in last week. I am sitting here trying to think of how to explain what lead me to the fair, not once, but TWICE, in one week. Really, I have nothing to say for myself. Mostly I blame Rosie, my housekeeper.

Rosie cleans my house twice a month on Wednesday mornings, in order to keep me from divorcing my husband arguing with Mark about the division of labor in our home. I love Rosie but I have some weird quirks about having a housekeeper. For one, I often feel like she and her crew are talking about me in Spanish. I have paranoid thoughts about them saying things like “Why can’t she pick up these toys before we come?” Or “How many liquids can one person spill in the fridge in fourteen days?” Pretty much everything they say to each other, I assume they are saying about me. I’m not really sure why I am telling you this, because it has nothing to do with how I got to the fair. I’m just saying, if you talk in front of me in another language, NAIL SALON LADIES, I will assume it is about me. Me me me.

My other, slightly-relevant-to-this-story quirk about Rosie coming, is that I absolutely hate being home while she is cleaning. It just makes me feel really lazy to sit on the sofa while she cleans around me. So I always try to leave as soon as she gets here. (And when I was pregnant and sick, I would just pretend to be really, really busy while I was laying there. And also I tried to lift my feet up when she needed to sweep under my spot on the couch. Not at all awkward).

So. It’s Wednesday. Rosie week. I am trying to figure out where to take the kids after I pick them up for preschool. We need a destination so we don’t arrive home before she’s done. I remember that it is a book drive day at the fair, and if there is one thing I have no shortage of in my house, it is books. So I pick out a few and stock up the diaper bag, thinking we can just make a quick appearance at the fair. At this point, I’m feeling fun and spontaneous and invincible. I’m actually a little giddy, because this kind of off-the-cuff decision is so unlike me. One might even describe my state as manic. If one were a mental health professional. (Good thing I don’t know any of those).

I went to pick up the kids, and I let them know that I had a fun surprise to tell them in the car. They both lit up with excitement! We hurried to the car, where I sat them down, buckled them in, and then turned to give them the big news. “Kids, we are going to the fair!”

Blank stares. And then,

JAFTA: But what’s the surprise?
INDIA: Where is my present?
ME: We’re going to the fair! THAT’s the surprise!
INDIA: But no! I want a surprise! Where is my new thing? I want a new something.
JAFTA: Are we getting a giant spongebob toy at the fair?
INDIA: I wanted a present! A present!! WAHHHHHHHH!
ME: Um . . . this isn’t going how I planned . . .

I probably could have switched the plan up and given them both a Happy Meal Toy and they would have been satisfied, but I was determined to shine in my Oscar-nominated role as Fun, Spontaneous Mom Who Takes Her Children To The Fair On A Whim. I drove around my neighborhood looking for a place to park and decided on a spot about a quarter mile from my house. This put us at about a quarter mile from the fairgrounds.


The part of this story I failed to anticipate is that once you are on the fairgrounds property, there is still about a mile of parking lot until you get to the actual fair entrance. The other minor detail I forgot is that I have a double stroller and THREE CHILDREN. It’s been a while since I made this walk, and it literally slipped my mind that Jafta would have to hoof it on this mile-long trek, too. (Incidentally, it was about 100 degrees that day, and we were walking across a mile of black asphalt). About halfway across the parking lot, I actually thought that it might be a good idea to turn around. Jafta was so tired that he was begging me to call a taxi. Had that been an option, I would have.

Once we got into the actual fair, I explained to the kids that this would just be a short fair trip, and that we wouldn’t be riding any rides. Then we passed by a huge booth of spiderman toys, and I explained that we wouldn’t be buying any toys. Then we passed by a row of food vendors and I explained that we already ate lunch. Then we passed by the midway and I explained that we wouldn’t be spending $40 to try to win a Hannah Montana bedazzled pillow.

Just to clarify, in case you are taking notes on my parenting genius: in the course of five minutes I categorically outlawed the entire fair to a two-year-old and four-year-old. Jafta looked like someone had just told him there was no Santa Claus. I tried to act like this was all still a big, huge party, and made a beeline for the “Fun Zone”.

The Fun Zone is a huge sauna of a tent that has kid’s activities inside. It is pretty much the only free offering at the entire fair. It consists of a huge sand pile, surrounded by stations of toys that most kids own at home (legos, tinker toys, blocks, etc). Fortunately, my kids bought it and they played in there for hours. I was bored so I started taking photos of weird people. This family wins, hands down:

The whole family was wearing matching tye-died shirts, and matching batik-print shorts. You can see some of the family in this picture. Unfortunately two preteen sons were outside of the shot, and I was trying to pretend to take a picture of India, so calling them over was not an option. But may I point out that their youngest son is wearing a girl’s bonnet that appears to be straight off the set of Little House on the Prairie.

And then there was this moron who left her purse wide open on top of her stroller while she walked around taking photos of strangers.

Oh wait, that was me.

Once we finished in the Fun Zone I was ready to call it a day, but on our way out we passed by a small tent hosting a little circus show. Jafta begged, so I relented, and we found the only available seats (in the front row) and watched the show.

I have not seen a lot of circus shows, but even with my limited experience I feel qualified to say that this was the WORST CIRCUS EVER. First of all, the M.C. was very old and very frail. He could barely walk. Either this guy really really loves his job or the circus does not have a great 401k plan. He was struggling to get through any of the acts. I should also mention that I believe the props and soundtrack of the show have not changed since the invention of the locomotive. The whole thing was, ahem, vintage. Then another guy comes out to do some juggling, but dropped his props several times during fairly simple moves. So suffice it to say, when he brought out the knives, I was not feeling confident in his juggling abilities. Especially sitting in the front row. Then this same guy, who does not look especially physically fit, does a little trick where he balances himself on chairs, which Jafta thought was the coolest thing in the world. I might have said a few prayers for this man in those five minutes. I also might have had a very small panic attack.

They also did some stale and COMPLETELY OBVIOUS tricks with a dove. And then there was this total moron who breastfed her baby in the front row because her screaming baby refused to drink from the bottle. Oh wait, that was me, too.

NOTE TO SELF- when you sit in the front row with a four-year-old with a bird phobia, and a dove is in 75% of the show, you may end up in a show of your own. It might be entitled Boy Climbs Up Neck of Mother While Mother Exposes Breast.

Once the freak show was finally over (and the circus finished up), I let the kids have some ice cream and we again headed for the exit, but this time we were sidetracked by the petting zoo. Now, if you know me at all, you know how much I love animals. From a distance. A very, very safe distance.

So I was thrilled when this llama decided that my skirt looked like food, and began to eat it. Those llamas are quick, and before I knew it, half my skirt was down this llama’s throat. Some chivalrous observer had to wedge himself between myself and the llama and pull my skirt from its esophagus, which was now covered in llama saliva and partially-chewed dog food pellets. And in case you were keeping count, I’ve now exposed my breast to the audience at the circus, and my underwear to the crowd in the petting zoo.

That was my final cue to leave the fair.

Now, how I ended up returning the very next day is a story for another time . . . and this time, I blame my sister-in-law Sarah.