I love carnivals.
I love the sleazy half-drunk ex-cons operating questionably built rides, I love the rigged games with crappy prizes, the hot mini-donuts, the scuffed signage, the way people’s eyes shine with the reflection of neon, the loud rock music competing with old-timey organ pipes, and most of all I love the way carnivals appear out of nowhere and then disappear a few days later as if they were never there.
When I saw that North Hollywood Park was putting up a carnival last weekend, I knew that the time had come to share with Violet the joys of funnel cakes, kiddie rides and the pinnacle of family entertainment – the ferris wheel!! Richard approved the plan immediately, reminding me that he was a carny one summer – hot!
We prepped Violet about what she would be likely to experience at the carnival, and we made a big deal out of the ferris wheel, knowing that it might possibly be the only ride we could all go on together. I have to confess that I’ve been imagining this moment in my mind ever since having a child. Sharing family night-life together means so much to me; I was definitely as excited as she was.
So off we went!
Violet is becoming known for her daredevil personality, and true to form, she wanted to go on all the rides. But of course we had to explain that many of the rides are for grown-ups, like the Zipper. I couldn’t resist telling her the story of my cousin Marc who puked on the Zipper and watched his barf falling through the cage onto the cages below. That was enough to steer her away from danger.
So we started off with “The Bees”…
Then moved on the the “Bear Affair”…
Then the “Giant Slide”…
And the roller coaster….on which she looked quite scared the moment it lurched to life.
Each time she got off a ride, we suggested the ferris wheel and pointed over to it.
Ta da! Won’t that be so fun?
But unfortunately, she thought it looked really scary. We kept trying to tell her that it wouldn’t be scary at all, that she’d be in between Mom and Dad and it would be completely safe and awesome! But each time she would look over and frown, shaking her head. My dream was slipping away!
So, we walked around some more, drank another vat of strawberry lemonade, and found another kiddie ride. And as you can see in the picture below, this ride was less than thrilling. Hard to believe it’s in full swing when I snapped this. An epiphany was brewing in her almost four-year-old brain….
By the time she hopped off the pink duck, her expression had changed from wonder to determination. She asked me again about my aunt Marc (“you mean my cousin Marc?”) and I repeated the story about the Zipper. I was careful to point out the vast difference between the Zipper and the ferris wheel. She looked over at it again and this time she wasn’t frowning.
Then Richard went in for the kill and worked some magic that seemed to be part guilt trip about Mommy being sad about not going on the ferris wheel, and part bribe with more strawberry lemonade, and lo and behold, she was in! We ran over to it at top speed and got on before she could change her mind!
Here we are living the carnival dream, and the discussion you hear is me retelling the barf story again. I’ll have to confirm that with my cousin – it could have been an urban myth. You can also hear Violet’s revisionist history about the evening, and how she planned to go on the ferris wheel all along. I’ll take it!
Ah, it won’t be long until she wants nothing to do with Mom and Dad when she goes to the carnival. But for now, we still have a few things to teach her.