My kids had never been to a fair before. Is that a bit weird? Does that make me a bad parent?
I guess it’s in the blood, because I never went to a fair with my parents either. But I remember being excited and fascinated by the idea of fairs – the rides, the lights, the candy floss, the prizes… They seemed like the most amazing places.
As a teenager I went every year to a big local fair, but then I stopped going to them. To be honest, the thought of them made me feel a bit sick. All those same things which had once seemed so exciting – the rides and the candy floss (bleurgh!), once I grew up even the thought of them made me feel queasy. Add the smell of diesel, hot dogs and cigarette smoke, the ridiculous cost of everything and the stupidly loud music and to be honest I couldn’t think of many worse places to be.
But when I went out for my leaving do, my husband said he would take the kids to the fair. Then he withdrew the offer when my son kicked up a fuss and said he couldn’t go because kids from school would be there with their mates and he would look uncool being there with his dad, brother and sister. Then apparently my daughter kicked up an almighty fuss too because her dream had been dangled in front of her, then cruelly snatched away.
The younger two wouldn’t let it lie. They’d had the fair offered to them and they weren’t giving up. They nagged and nagged until they were allowed to go the following evening. Obviously I would be staying at home with my eldest, who wouldn’t be seen dead at the fair with his family.
But apparently it was fine to go on a Saturday with his family. Yeah, go figure. I have no idea how the tween mind works.
Which is how I came to be at a fair for the first time in 20 years.
And it was every bit as horrible as I’d remembered – noisy, smelly, horrible flashing lights and things just spinning everywhere – vertically, horizontally, high, on the ground, up and down. But all spinning. It made me feel queasy to look at it.
And scared. Because there was a ridiculously high ride which you can see from over a mile away, which my 10 year old son, my beloved baby boy WANTED TO GO ON. And I was terrified. I couldn’t bear it. Couldn’t bear the thought of him being on there and being scared and unable to get off. This boy hated the runaway mine train at Alton Towers for flip’s sake!
I could hardly stand to look at this damn ride. My daughter was nearly in tears at the thought of her brother going on it and my eldest, the big cool boy who couldn’t be seen out with his family, said: ‘C’mon, mum, let’s just go with sister’. Under normal circumstances he can’t have anything to do with his sister, but he was as desperate to get away from this hideous thing as we were.
So we all went on the dodgems. Which I quite enjoyed. It’s fun and tame (although I do have bruises) and we all had a bit of a laugh. Apparently children aren’t allowed on unaccompanied, so obviously my eldest would go on alone and my husband and I would have one of the younger two each. But my eldest WANTED to go with me (again, go figure, how does that work?) and the younger two wanted to go together. And that was OK, even though it was clearly a breach of very stringent fairground policy. The look on their two delighted little faces as they screamed and laughed and grinned made it almost worth being there. Almost.
But the dodgems had got my husband’s adrenaline pumping. Now he was ready to go on that ridiculously big ride and no amount of tears or begging from his daughter was going to stop him. But at least my son wasn’t going on. It went scarily high and scarily fast and he was on there for a stupidly long length of time. He came off absolutely buzzing but, thankfully, said he didn’t think my son should go on it.
|People like this WHY, exactly?! And this is not the ridiculously big ride, that was way worse!|
My daughter selected some sort of flat round and round ride, which she went on on her own as there was no way I was going on, even though she was only just over the height limit. It went round and round and she grinned and giggled and waved and kicked her legs. But then her smile faded a bit. Was she OK? Did she look… queasy?!
‘What if she’s sick?’ asked my husband.
My daughter gets travel sick so it wasn’t beyond the realms of possibility. It’s harsh that a little girl who loves speed and gets such an adrenaline rush from rides should suffer from travel sickness. The ride slowed down, then it started up again. She’d been on there ages. I couldn’t watch any longer. So I went to watch my eldest chuck some darts at a dodgy dart board. Then my daughter ran over, all smiles and laughter. She loved it and she wanted to go on again. No way. She’d survived once. The cumulative effect of going on again might tip her over the edge. Plus it was a waste of money.
Finally my younger son selected some sort of pendulum spinning ride. He went on his own too. He looked small and nervous strapped in his seat. Then it started off and it started swinging. Higher and higher, round and round and over our heads. I couldn’t bear it. Couldn’t bear to see him so high up. Couldn’t bring myself to look at it. I was terrified. I cringed and screamed at the sight of every swing of this awful thing.
And my daughter uttered some incredibly wise words for an 8 year old: “Imagine he’s not on it”. How could she be so sensible?
But I couldn’t imagine he wasn’t on it and I couldn’t bear it. So I walked away until it was over.
And I went home and I will NEVER be going to a fair again.