Yesterday morning, shortly after sleeping for just a few hours split between a bed and an airplane (after returning from HERE), I was tasked with one of my biggest challenges in my 2+ years as a parent: taking the Little Dude to a Purim Carnival while my wife attended a wedding shower. Chasing an eager toddler around this type of sensory-overload event is exhausting enough on normal rest. While operating solely on Diet Mountain Dew and donuts, I felt like Arnold Schwarzenegger on Father's Day: so much ground to cover and not sure where to begin.
If you are unfamiliar with Purim, it’s sort of like a Jewish Halloween. For example, both involve kids getting dressed up in costumes. Halloween involves kids being loaded down with voluminous amounts of chocolate and sugary treats. Purim features some amazing triangle-shaped cookies called Hamentashen, which usually contain a sweet fruit filling in the middle. Of course, the prune-filled Hamentashen is the Jewish equivalent of the box of raisins given out by your neighborhood’s old lady on Halloween.
In the car, I asked the Little Dude if he knew what a carnival was and he responded with “I like carnivals”. A phrase he repeated 97 times in the next 30 minutes, like when Dustin Hoffman’s Rain Man repeats the radio ad for “97X – BAM – the future of rock and roll” over and over to his brother Tom Cruise while they are driving cross country.
When we arrived and saw the brightly colored tents and giant rides, the Little Dude’s eyes grew as wide as the Ferris Wheel I had no intention of taking him on. We ran into some friends, whose daughter was wearing a Princess costume. If anyone asked, the Little Dude’s tie-dye shirt qualified him to be a Deadhead.
Our first stop was at the gouging station, aka the little booth where they sell tickets. I debated how many to get and went with 25 for $20. I figured that if he chose not to ride or play anything, which wouldn’t have surprised me given his finicky nature, at least I could use them to get some grilled Hebrew National hot dogs (spoiler alert: I later did).
In an effort to start unloading the tickets I’d just purchased, we headed over to the one station I knew he would love: the pony rides. As we waited in line, the Little Dude stood on his tiptoes to check out the horses and the kids riding them. As we moved up the line, we just missed the cut and were the last ones shut out on that round. So we stood and watched another batch of kids revolving atop the eternally sad looking mini-equines. The Little Dude picked out which one he wanted to ride and after a few minutes I handed over the tickets and we went over to the biggest horse there. There was only one problem: he wouldn’t get on. I kept trying to lift him up and he did that classic toddler move utilized when they don’t want to do something: the dead-weight flop. After a couple minutes I got him to pet the horse, thinking that might spark his interest in riding, but that was as close as he got. The Yosemite Sam-looking guy working refunded the tickets and we went to look for other ways to spend all 25 of them.
|Not sure if my hand was still intact at this point.|
There was a giant bumpy slide adjacent to the horses, but I figured there was no way he would go up the roughly 75 feet of stairs when he wouldn’t even get on the horse. Unfortunately, I was wrong. Double unfortunately, he was too small to go alone. As I carried him up a steep and narrow metal staircase, I waited for him to change his mind like with the horse but he never did. As we careened down the slippery slope, I suddenly felt a sharp pain in my hand. When we landed at the bottom I noticed that my hand was bleeding profusely. I must have bumped into the barrier wall on our way down and left a chunk of skin for future passengers. I suppose that could be a prize for one of the few who didn't win a goldfish that day.
So we went to look for the First Aid station, as my Diaper Dude bag was lacking in un-Dudely Band Aids. We walked into the tent and the doctor looked down at the Little Dude and asked him “Did you get a boo-boo?” To which I replied “no, but I did.” She cleaned me up and we went on a few more rides, including an epic car ride that not only caused whiplash as it ripped around each corner, but that caused half the contents to fly out of the diaper bag, including the Little Dude’s sippy cup filled with water. At least I still had some extra tickets to get him a bottle of water and myself the aforementioned jumbo hot dog in my attempt to cure hunger, whiplash, sleep deprivation and jet lag in one nitrate-heavy fell swoop.
The afternoon with my Little Dude was worth every penny of that $20 and I can’t wait to do it again next year. Until then, I’ll have the scar on my hand as a reminder of the fun we shared, to go along with a case of Post Purim Depression now that the celebration is over.
|Little Dude riding a psychedelic Caterpillar.|