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I Love a Carnival

I Love a Carnival

I spent this past sunday at an outdoor community carnival with my daughters.  There was the usual assortment of games, crafts, gratuitous use of sugar, and bouncing castles.  My 4-year old daughter quickly found some of her friends from her pre-school class and took off to check out the game tables.  The concept is a simple one.  Kids try their hand at various table games and win paper tickets for their efforts.  After filling a ziploc sandwich bag with these little blue paper treasures, they go to the prize table to exchange them for valuable baubles like super-balls, Laffy Taffys, and pieces of colored string.  


As my daughters cavorted about the grounds I strolled casually from table to table inspecting the game selection. You know, in case I wanted to add to my kids ticket count.  Sure, there were the classics like “shave the balloon” and bean-bag-toss.  As well as that daring game of skill where the contestant picks a floating rubber duck from the tub and is awarded a number of prize-tickets equal to the number that is scrawled on the duck’s belly with a sharpie.  Thrilling.  There was also a surprising number of games centered around food.  The “pickle race” is a game where 2 children compete to see who can devour a pickle that is suspended above them from a string.  Winner gets 5 tickets (loser gets 2).  “Mouth Sundae” barely seems like a game at all, rather an excuse to spray a large amount of whipped cream into a kids pie-hole and watch them slurp it down.  


My intrepid 4-yr old daughter comes over to me clutching in her hand an assortment of erasers, string bracelets, and a punch-balloon.  She was holding something behind her back that I couldn't see.  “Daddy..”, she said around a tootsie roll,  “I got you a prize too.”  With a flourish she presents me with a blue,fuzzy pipe cleaner that she had bent into a crooked circle.  “I made you a bracelet, see we’re matching!”  She delicately slipped the pipe-cleaner accessory onto my wrist and grinned at me with chocolate smeared teeth.  I’m not sure why this little moment made me so emotional. I’m not what you call a “first time parent”.  This is our 7th child and I have had more crappy kids crafts made for me than I could possibly count in 2 lifetimes.  I think it was the naked sincerity of her gesture.  This wasn’t some contrived hallmark moment orchestrated by a well-meaning preschool teacher.  Like the father’s day “ash tray” from last year.  This was a moment of genuine affection and giving by my 4-yr old who just wanted to express her love in a tangible way.  To be truthful, I was a little taken aback by my own reaction.  I’m sure it must have looked a little weird from the bystander’s point of view. Why is that guy tearfully clutching that small child? Is that a pipe cleaner on his wrist?


As I have gotten older, I am trying to be better about not letting these small moments with my kids slip past. These are the kinds of things that can’t be adequately marked by snapping a quick selfie or recording a 30 sec video.  These moments need to be marked internally.  They need to be part of my emotional catalogue so I can access them as I travel the winding path of raising my kids.  

Posted: 5/21/2014 10:18:29 AM by Dr. Milobsky | with 0 comments

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