Childhood Innocence & Making Memories at the County Fair
When I was growing up in Oklahoma, I don’t think we had a county fair. What we did have was a state fair (“The Great State Fair of….OKLAHOMA!” If you’re from around there, you know you just sang that as you read it too). Every year the schools would give out free admission tickets for the kids and every year we’d go on armband night…it was the best bang-for-your-buck since you paid one price and rode all the rides you wanted for the whole night. We didn’t have a lot of money, so that’s when we went. It was also the busiest night so we’d stand in line for what seemed like forever to ride one ride, but boy was it worth it. I have so many amazing memories of going with my Nanny (that’s my grandma for any of you weirdos out there who actually call your grandma “grandma”) and my aunts and uncles. Occasionally the cousins would come too and I remember thinking how much I just wished we could stay forever because things were just so perfect. Of course, we were kids, so even if things seemed “perfect” to us, I realize now that the adults all had their own things going on: their own worries about paying the bills/running their households, their own versions of “mom-guilt”, their own exhaustion to deal with. But to us it was perfect. Standing in those lines was perfect. Getting squished by someone twice your size on the tilt-a-whirl was perfect. Stepping in that sticky stuff that bore no resemblance to anything on earth (and which you hoped wasn’t somebody else’s…**ahem**…funnel cake remnants) was perfect. Eating a turkey leg, then an Indian taco, then a corndog, then cotton candy, and having the worst tummy ache of your life on the ride home was perfect. Now it just sounds like a nightmare, but back then, it was childhood.
I realize now that a lot of what our childhood was, was our parents and grandparents doing for us. Trying to do all they could to give us the gift of those memories….to create that magic, despite what was really going on in their lives and in the world around us. Trying to shelter us for just a little but longer, to keep that whole “growing up” thing at bay for just another day. I’m not a touchy-feely kind of person at all; it makes me uncomfortable. So this post is skirting pretty close to the edge for me, but I think about these kinds of things a lot. My children growing older and becoming less innocent to the craziness of this world terrifies me. I want to do all that I can to protect them from that for as long as I can, judgement and labels be damned. Maybe they’ll tease me at the dinner table 20 years from now about how they didn’t know the meaning of some word or phrase until they were teenagers, but you know what? That’s a WIN, in my book. This world will come to them fast enough…
All of this to say that I (as usual) found much more meaning in something as ordinary as the county fair when we went this weekend. We had a fantastic time (despite the heat), ate way too much amazing fair food, listened and danced to some pretty great country music, and took our time touring the exhibit hall talking about the different things we saw and discussing what all of those red, white, and blue ribbons meant. I can’t wait for the day when they’re older and maybe interested in showing animals or entering their own artwork, collections, or apple butter into the contests themselves. So many memories are yet to be made with these beautiful kiddos of ours…and the county fair seems like a good place to start.
So tell me, how has your viewpoint on childhood changed since having your own children? What are your favorite childhood memories and how do you try to create those with your own kids? What are their favorite family traditions? If your kids are grown, what are your favorite traditions/memories from when they were little?
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