When I just had one child, we went everywhere together. I wasn’t fearless, but we set off on many a trek and road trip that would daunt weaker souls. Once there were two, I can only think of once that I did something crazy with them alone (five hour road trip to a Pampered Chef party at the home of a friend I hadn’t seen in awhile, stayed overnight, then back home). Then, there were three kids. We ventured out, but only when there were two adults to herd the children.
Now, with four under the age of seven, I find that I am not nearly as daunted by the thought of taking them out alone as I used to be. Take, for example, an annual festival in a town less than an hour away. We have lived here for five years, but have never been. Some years it was the weather. Others, it was that I would have to take the kids by myself because of my spouse’s work schedule. This year, it was another one of those years where my spouse had to work.
Did that mean we wouldn’t go? NO! By golly, this year we were going!
The local businesses had signs in their windows welcoming the crowd. It wasn’t a big crowd. It was a very hot day. We came armed with an ice-cold one-liter bottle of water, a stroller for the baby, and small change in the pocket just in case. I brought the camera and an activities list.
First stop? The free watermelon, of course! Sponsored by the local chamber of commerce, they had several slices of watermelon on each plate. It was sweet, seedless, and only slightly messy. It definitely hit the spot on a hot summer day. And who could beat the price?
The free watermelon stand happened to be in the beer garden area. We had a good view of the keg tapping that happened while we were cleaning up after the watermelon. Apparently, they have this one free keg of beer. Once it is gone, you have to pay once again for your beverages. As I was the sole guardian in charge of four children and going to be driving home, I did not have any. (Besides, I have to admit not liking the taste or smell of beer.)
We were soon on our way to see the firefighters water fight. I haven’t seen one of these since I was a small child. The kids weren’t too sure when we got there that they were interested. We had passed the “bouncy house” and hadn’t stopped. That looked like a lot more fun than watching guys put on fire fighting gear.
Once the water started, though, they were much more interested. We watched at least six or seven match-ups between area volunteer fire departments. One set was even made up of women. (They tied with the all-male team they were up against.)
When the wind was just right, we got misted with the water and it felt GREAT. The crowd would roar appreciatively at the slight wetness, irrespective of how the actual water battle was going. There was a small group of children who sat on the ground, pretty close to the action. They were soaked before the end of the first match. But my kids weren’t quite sure they wanted to be that wet. And I wasn’t sure I wanted them to be that wet – so far from home and with an emergency change of clothes only for the two younger ones.
Soon, however, even the water fights had stopped being able to hold their interest. They were asking to go back to the jump house we passed. We only had to wait a few minutes for our turn. Soon, however, #3 child was stepped on by another child and #1 child let #3 out to rejoin #4 and mother on the outside.
After this little bit of fun, we ambled over to watch the children’s pedal tractor pull. My kids had not expressed interest in entering, so we watched other children pedal the box up the ramp. I had never seen one of these and still don’t know quite how it works.
After a few more less-exciting activities, we headed back to the vehicle to drive home. Our water was now almost gone and had that hot plastic-y taste to it. The fireworks weren’t going to be until dusk and there wasn’t much else to keep the children’s (or my) interest until then. We had missed the children’s and regular parade along with bed races, the run/walk, and the poker run.
We did stop at a Baskin-Robbins for a few of their 31 flavors to help cool us down on the long ride home. (We had pink bubblegum, chocolate Oreo, jamoca Oreo, and chocolate chip cookie dough.) We finally made it to Germanfest and perhaps next year, there will be some free beer imbibing and one of the children will want to take part in the pedal tractor pull.