For as long as I can remember back?
This first day of the fair was always the day we took off. At first, I started inviting and asking people to join us, like Mimi, Dad, or friends — but it always ended up being just “me and my gang.”
So I stopped asking and left that first fair day as a special day for just us to get away.
Get away from commitments, daycare, school, work, life in general — whatever we needed to be away from. Every year, We’d have breakfast and beeline for the open gate.
And that day? That day, we were never in a hurry.
I loved taking you guys. I loved it for myself, too.
Ryan, you always wanted a plastic blow-up character balloon, usually Spiderman or Batman. You made ugly faces at the smells in the pig barn from day one and never wanted to share your huge bag of popcorn from the old man monkey guy with any of us.
TJ, you adored the goats, feeding them and having them nibble your tiny fingers. You loved the tractors and insisted on a candy apple, which you never finished.
Sam, you loved the live singing shows and the horses. But you always loved your brother Alex the most. You wanted to be wherever he was, all day. I never lost track of you two — you were always holding hands.
Alex, you mostly loved sitting in the wagon, eating cotton candy, and watching it all from a safe distance.
Yes, there were tantrums. There were tears over sharing, lost balloons, and changes of heart about the treasure you chose. We fought over what to do next and tired legs. At some point during the day, I definitely carried each one of you. Some of you were big enough for piggybacks, and some of you were little enough to cling tight to my chest.
We had runs to the bathroom during potty training (Ryan Lacerte, don’t you dare touch that donut in the urinal — that’s yucky!!) We had diaper changes on the ground, endless shoe ties, lots of sticky fingers, and even more sticky hair.
My back hurt, my knees hurt, and I’m sure my head hurt. My wallet was as empty as your sippy cups when it was time to go. I took too many pictures and laughed all day. I spent the day holding your hands and teaching you about anything that caught your attention. I made you feel things and try things. I spent the day with you and only you.
I know the days can be so long with kids and raising them, but when I sit here now? I cherish every minute of those days. I know somewhere I’m imprinted on your hearts and memory. I’m thankful no one else ever accepted my invitation to join us because that became my special day with you. I’m sure I was my own walking circus display, but man, did I (and do I) love you guys.
I spent my 20s growing up with you.
So if I’m ever old and can’t get along there myself?
Please take me.
Tie a balloon to my wheelchair, put on my sneakers, let me have sticky fingers and hair. Don’t invite anyone else. Get me to the bathroom or change my diaper. Let me smell the pigs, cry over my hurting legs, and don’t make me share my popcorn with anyone.
Take lots of pictures and laugh all day.
There are no degrees or public awards for how I spent my life working, but let me tell you — the personal rewards are deep.
You guys are my greatest pride, no matter my mistakes.
I would do it all again in a heartbeat.
I love you.
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