When kids see a SpongeBob bounce house arise from a soccer field as they drive past, parents can pretty much forget the planned trip to the library. From there on out, just hang on and hope for the best.
The best, of course, being relative when there's a carnival involved. There's no way to emerge unscathed from a landmine of icksiting activities, sugar-loaded foods and glorious junk prizes.
Just know that it's not you. It's the carnival, which has rules of its own. It's pointless to try to fight them. Simply accept your fate.
If there's only one parent and two kids, one kid will want to rush to the bounce house while the other will insist on riding the train. The train and the bounce house will be at opposite ends of the carnival.
Colorful balloons wafting skyward are beautiful - until it's your kid's balloon. When it escapes, the kid in question will cry piteously until you get back in the now-lengthy line for another balloon. Then he'll cry some more when the one offered isn't the same color as the one that just became an air-traffic control hazard for migratory birds.
Forget nutrition. The best you can hope for is enough protein to keep them from needing a parachute to survive the sugar crash. Sadly, hot dog hold no appeal when kids are surrounded by soda, cotton candy and ice cream.
Whichever junky game prize breaks five minutes after it's awarded will immediately become a child's favorite of the night. He'll mourn its loss for at least 24 hours.
The kid who chooses to spend more time in the bounce house than at the games won't sleep any better. He'll be up half the night protesting the injustice of his brother's bigger prize haul.
It doesn't matter if you put a basketball on it - it's still a Rubik's Cube. And repeated pleas for help solving it still will drive a parent mad.
A Rubik's cube won't drive a parent nearly as mad as a whistle. Really, what kind of parent-hating sadist selects those as a kiddy carnival prize?
Whichever kid insisted on waiting 20 minutes in line for a horse ride will refuse to get on the horse when it's his turn. As a consolation prize, though, the one who griped incessantly about the wait will eagerly saddle up. It's about the best outcome you'll experience all night.
The kid who never can remember where he left his shoes five minutes later will be able to tell you four hours later exactly how many times his brother got to pick which game to play and how many times he did. He'll break it out to decimal points if necessary to prove that he's being cheated.
Those hot dogs they refused to eat for hours? They'll want them as soon as the hot dog stand closes.
Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.