Monday, May 12, 2014

The Carnival

Every year a carnival is set up in the parking lot of the Kmart down the street from our house.  Every year I drive by the carnival and tell my kids "no."  My mother refused to take my sister and brother and me when we were little.  She also refused to let us watch The Newlywed Game and Three's Company.  She said the carnival was unsafe and the shows were too racy.   I eventually watched those shows and enjoyed them quite a bit.  But I never went to a parking lot carnival, until this past Friday night.

I'm not sure why I finally said "yes" instead of "no."  Maybe because I am really tired lately.  Maybe because I'm finally getting realistic about how far outside of our budget Disney World really is and this might be the closest thing my kids will get to the Magic Kingdom.  

And here's the thing, we really aren't hard-to-please-people.  Flashy lights, loud music, cotton candy, rides,, yes please. 

Sure, some of the employees looked mildly shifty (and angry) and I probably would most definitely NOT let Lucy go there alone with a group of friends when she gets older.   At times my mother's voice was in the back of my mind telling me "those rides are unsafe and those places are so tacky."  I pushed my mother's words waaaaaay back in my mind beside the other things she's said that I want to forget (things like "you are a horrible daughter" and "you look like a hooker" waaaaa). And then I joined my kids in the bumper cars, which are amazing.  It's extremely therapeutic to ram the hell out of the other cars, and I only scared one or two of the kids driving.

"If you squint a little, it even looks like Disney World," I told Tim after he got of the copycat Dumbo ride.

He didn't see what I saw, but he was a good sport and was having fun.  So were the kids.  They were all bright-eyed and excited and saying wow and yes to everything.  

Lucy and I decided to ride the giant Ferris wheel together.  It stopped at the top.  It was windy.  It was scary.  I tried to stay calm.  Lucy was gripping the pole tightly, she was very afraid.  

"It will be fine," I told her, secretly hoping the angry, shifty Ferris wheel operator hadn't picked that particular moment to walk off the job in protest of shitty working conditions.  

"Look at our world!," Lucy said with complete and total wonder.  She forgot to be afraid.  She was still holding on, but she was all chin up, eyes on the world, ready and open and accepting and marveling and happy.  

This past weekend was Mother's Day. Mother's Day can be a bit tricky when you have a complicated relationship with your mother person.  It can bring up all kinds of pain and sadness.  It can also  make you very afraid that you will end up completely screwing up the good thing you have going with your own children.  

Maybe that's why I decided to finally go to the parking lot carnival at long last. Sort of a Mother's Day weekend protest against mother-related angst and fear. I refuse to repeat mistakes or patterns my mother did, even stupid anti-carnival patterns.  I refuse to live in fear holding onto the pole and not looking out with wonder at the world, my world--my bright-eyed, easy-to-please, all-we-need-is-love family.

After all of our tickets were used (and way more money than we anticipated had been spent), we skipped off into the sunset and bought light bulbs at Kmart.


  1. Oh, I love this! We have parking lot carnivals every summer all over, and we miss every stinkin' one. Maybe this year we'll make it.

    The second pic of Lucy's face is just priceless. "Our world" - sniff. :)