It is difficult for the State Fair to truly disappoint, but I faced some sad realities there this year. Although we parents joke about how our teenage kids hate us and would rather be anywhere else but near us, there's a grain of truth in there. Not so much a rejection of us, but an embrace of their own selves blossoming and growing, away from us. We did some exploring of the fair together, but they were far more interested in their own adventures, and fellow adventurers, than they were in their family.
An additional complication: Thing 3 and her older counterparts are experiencing a period of particular friction, and must bicker and snark about every aspect of their lives together. It was far more peaceful to have the teens out on their own and keep the tween and little brother with me.
As we hit the Kidway, I had even further cause for melancholy. First off, there are more and more rides that my little guy is outgrowing. Though he's not quite up for the thrill rides on the Mighty Midway yet, the beep-beep cars and baby ferris wheel are past him now. Luckily, the Kidway at MSF has a nice variety of rides of various levels, and he and his sister found plenty to do as I watched. Unfortunately, I can no longer do spinning rides without careful planning and Dramamine. That's one of those physiological quirks I experience that seem to coincide with childbearing. I can still do coasters, but spinning is a no-no, and upside-down has not yet been tested.
As I watched from the sidelines, I had another pang I wasn't expecting. My bachelor uncle, Tyke, doted on me when I was little. He was always the one to take me to the county fair. We'd go in the afternoons when it was less crowded; my mom would either nip off by herself to the exhibits, or spend the afternoon with my grandma at the house she shared with Tyke on the edge of the fairgrounds. He'd take me on rides and buy me pie and ice cream in the church booth, trying to convince me that the blueberries and raisins in the pies came from the fly strips hanging in the rafters. When I had kids, my much older brother, Don, became the Tyke to them; when there was a carnival or fair in the neighborhood, he'd generally show up and cart them off to the midway. The last time Thing 3 qualified for state, he met us there and took the kids on rides while iPastor and I got to sneak in a bit of a Dennis DeYoung concert. As I watched my kids that hot August afternoon, I suddenly missed my brother terribly. I am generally at peace with Don's death. I am surprised when these moments sting so sharply.
Fast on the heels of State Fair came the Lifelight festival. We only went for part of Saturday and most of Sunday this year, but we had a nice visit staying at Hotel Grandma, and our German and Kiwi kids got in a little Sioux Falls shopping. The festival weather was nearly perfect, the new location is great, and the music was awesome. A wonderful wrap to summer.
Everyone trundled off to school, and by the end of the second week the back-to-school colds were making the rounds at a furious pace. So far I've avoided a full blown case of anything, but I've been really working on fluids and naps to make sure it stays that way.
We spent my birthday weekend in the cities, using passes to Como Town that Thing 3 won at the fair, visiting with friends and family, and spending Sunday at the Renaissance Festival. Again, we were faced with the differing tastes and preferences of a growing family, and I sadly realized how few real family events we have left as Thing 1 looks ahead to college next year, Thing 2 close on her heels. I had another sting from Don as well, remembering how we'd taken him to his first Renfest and made an addict of him. With the sting comes a smile, though, so those moments are welcome.
My drive to school is becoming more red and gold, as well as brown from the crops. Quite a bit of rain last week has kept the fields too muddy to harvest, but the crops themselves are ready to go, except in very low spots. The cool damp of last week has been replaced with a stretch of Indian summer, which I am enjoying very much, though it hatched out the Boxelder bugs. I felt it was time to post, but now I need to get up and out into that sunshine while it lasts. Happy Fall to All.