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August 11, 2001
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three years ago
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Boulder County Fair

A very temperate day, it started overcast and cool and then brightened and cleared up into pure sunshine with a break for a thunderstorm that cooled everything down really well and then cleared up again for a beautiful evening. It was a really great day for good weather, too, as we went to the Boulder County Fair.

John brewed for much of the morning, taking the over the whole stove and everything early in the morning while it was still cool. So we had cereal for breakfast, and all the bowls and teaspoons were dirty and in the dishwasher, so we were eating out of Tupperware with our big serving spoons. That was pretty funny, and Jet watched me curiously as I went at my cereal. He made "aaah! ahhh!" sounds and reached for my cereal bowl, my juice cup, and pretty much everything I was using to eat. I gave him a couple of Cheerios and he smashed at them with his hands, occasionally managing to pick them up but not getting them anywhere near his mouth. He's still working on the fine control, though he can grab everything, now, that catches his attention, he's still not certain what to do with most things other than put them in his mouth.

Jet and I spent a cheerful time on the floor of the kitchen watching John brew. That was pretty fun. It was cool enough to be comfortable, warm enough as well, especially in the sunlight that was streaming in from the church-like window in the kitchen. We watched John run around putting stuff in, taking stuff out, and getting all the things sterilized that needed sterilizing and dirtying up everything else. That was great fun.

Jet ate as he liked, and we stopped watching for a while to have oatmeal with apple juice, which he ate with great gusto once I actually got it mixed to a texture that was to his satisfaction. When we were done, he grabbed the empty cup and shook it like a disgruntled emperor and dropped it to the floor. He drops a lot of things, now, and it's clearly that they just disappear from his knowledge when they disappear to the floor. He's not dropping it to make it go away, he's just dropping it from not knowing how to hang on or from simply not understanding that letting go means that it goes away, yet. There will be a day when he does it on purpose, it's just not yet.

Still, it's funny to watch him do it, now, while it's not on purpose.

John and I have talked through a lot of stuff from last Sunday and Ben's actions and the repercussions and all that. Yes, I know, from my own experience, that violence on the part of the parent when the parent faces the fear that comes of contemplating the possibilities is, pretty much, a cause for the whole rage and fear weirdness that I have. I don't intend to ever just plain hit Jet for doing something that scares me. It's just not the style of how parents deal with kids now, and I also know, logically, that it'll do more damage than good. In fact, it's one of those reactions that I never want to really carry out. Ever. I've got it set up so that John will stop me. Period.

Still, it does, viscerally, feel like an answer because it's how I was brought up. Which, I know, is all the more reason I should regard it with suspicion and know that it's dangerous. It is the easy way out. Rather than reasoning with the child and figuring out the child's limits, and working with them to build their abilities to reason it out for themselves in the future it's a hell of a lot easier to just make them scared of doing anything Mom and Dad even might not approve of them doing. The straight and narrow, one might say.

Looking at it, I was actually fairly impressed by Roy and Alyssa. They knew that Ben had no clue how he might have endangered anyone with his experiment. He may well have even looked before tossing it and with no one underneath, did his best to even the odds. Also, they hadn't checked the house, first, for things that were Ben-dangerous and they acknowledged that and the needs Ben had. They did inform him of his mistake and did extract the apology for his actions to the host, who was the one who would be most affected by the act.

The second part, the one where Ben directly defied his father, was a case of where Ben knew where the line was and chose to break it. So the punishment fit the knowledge of the crime. The consequences had been set down, he knew them, and they followed up on the consequences solidly. Again, very good parenting in practice. Predictable, solid, and totally where Ben knew where it would be. He does test those lines, and having them be there when he hits them is pretty much dead on with what every parenting book and goal lies. Teach children that their actions have consequences, and that they have a responsibility for the consequences as well as the original action.

In thinking it through, I was very impressed, and I don't know if I could do as well. Still, I can study the examples and do what I can from them. I really hope I can keep up with Jet.

Lunch was leftover soup and bread and Cheese Nips. It was yummy, simple and satisfying. It was also really healthy in anticipation of this evening's meal. We were going to eat at the fair, and I knew that I wasn't going to have, possibly, a single healthy thing if I could help it. So having a good lunch was a good setup for that.

Jet did get a couple naps in. One from 11-12, which I took with him. We slept in the bedroom while John brewed and finished mowing some stuff outside. It was a nice nap, and I woke up to the sounds of Jet rustling around, and when he saw me open my eyes and look at him, he beamed at me, and gave me his happy wiggle. I took the opportunity to brush my teeth and put myself together, and then got him changed into a dry diaper before we all lunched.

Jet took another nap at quarter 'til 3, and then woke up to eat steadily from 3:30 to 4, and that's when we left for the Goodell's. They all piled into their truck and we headed for the Boulder County fairgrounds, which were in Longmont. We went from sunny and clear at our place to being directly under a black cloud with rain coming out of it at the fairgrounds, and as we wound our way through the tractor displays outside, the raindrops started to fall.

We headed for the Exhibit Hall, and had fun going through there, looking at all the little shop booths as well as all the ribbon winning things all over. Alex had a painting at the fair, and we looked everywhere for it. We found it in the last of the four corners we looked at as we went all the way around the building. It was fun to see all the things that were there, photographs, bake contests, produce, grain, and clothing were all things that were brought to be judged. I didn't see any hand textiles anywhere, which is probably a good thing. My one stint at the Snohomish County Fair was enough ribbon hunting for me.

We then ducked into the animals area, and Joan and Ray had had a lot of experience as kids and teenagers with raising animals for show with 4H. I was pretty impressed with the whole setup, and realized that this is what farmers' kids had that would have easily taken the place of my science fiction, gaming, and comicbook conventions. The kids stay at the fair for nearly all of the thing, are all gathered in one place with like kids with shared interests, and they have a lot of time on their own and places to explore and people to talk with about the stuff they find important in their lives. It's a week long, sleep deprived, fun and work filled gathering. I hadn't thought of it that way before, but I could really see the appeal.

It was fun to look at the cows and the pigs with someone that actually knew what to look for to judge their quality. Joan had even been a judge of cattle for shows. That was pretty cool to know.

Jet took everything in. He was quiet, wide-eyed, and sat up in his stroller pretty much the whole time. He wanted to see, and he wanted to be sitting up to see everything. He didn't really care about the animals that much, he wasn't fascinated by them, or watching them particularly. He was just seeing everything and everyone around him, and he wasn't expressing much at all, just pulling it all in.

When we came out of the animal barns it was sunny out. The clouds had gone completely away, and it was clear, bright, and probably ten degrees cooler for the rain having passed by. From the barns we went out into the carnival, and we first walked through all the food booths before Alex got to ride on some ponies before we had our lunch. I had wanted an onion burger, but they didn't have them there. I was too used to the Northwest fairs, which had onion burgers, scones, and elephant ears. They didn't have any of those here, but they did have Indian flat bread, chili Frito pie, and bloomin' onions. I settled for a huge corn dog, crisp and golden outside, tender, juicy and hot inside with a whole Dixie cup of mustard to dip it in. Alex had one of those, too. We enjoyed them a great deal.

I also stole a bite of John's Indian taco, which had at least a few veggies on it. We also all shared a bloomin' onion that was obviously NOT made with a sweet onion. The middle of it was so hot I couldn't eat it. Joan went back to the stand that sold us the corn dogs, and asked for grilled onions on her hamburger, so she got an onion burger in the end. Ray had the same. John and I shared a 'fresh squeezed lemonade' that was 32 ounces of sugar water with a single lemon squeezed into it and a few maraschino cherries set to swim in that sweet sea. Whew.

I then promptly bought myself a bottle of water and drank a quarter of its ice cold contents in a long gulp.

Alex wanted to do rides. Jet started to fuss. It was now nearly three hours since we'd left the house. John and I settled on a bench with our legs keeping Jet on the bench, and we changed his sopping wet diaper. We then fed Jet what he'd eat of bananas and then a few mouthfuls of ice cold formula that Jet gulped down. He then spit the nipple out and refused to drink anymore as he was trying to look at all the rides at once. All the flying through the air, all the people screaming, and all the lights and noises and everything was so new!

Jet was just vibrating in his stroller when he was sitting there. His arms were in the air and his hands were turning a bit this way and that way, and his eyes were wide open to everything around him. And he was really, really quiet and really paying attention to the whole adventure. He also did just fine staying with Joan, Alex, Haley and Ray when John and I went up in the Ferris Wheel.

I wanted to see Longmont from up there. I hadn't been in a Ferris wheel for a very long time, and I wasn't really up for the adrenaline rides. I don't know why, and it's definitely not from 'well I'm a parent now so I'm supposed to...' it was more just being tired, and wanting something nice.

We sat in it side by side and got to see the whole carnival, including a sinking model of the Titanic that we'd wondered what it was. It turns out that it's a huge, inflated slide, that a kid can crawl up and then slide down. That was interesting.

We got to see a very great deal of Longmont from up there, with the flat land to all sides. It was cool to swoop up in the cooling evening air, and then swoop so gracefully down again. John waved to the Goodells as we came down, each time we came by them again. It was also fun to see the frantic splashing of the bumper boats from that far up and see where all the rides had their maintenance and all the mobile homes stashed between rides for the operators. I hadn't known they were there, before, my eye drawn by all the more interesting things. But they were all hidden away in all odd spots, usually in the shade of some ride or another. Hidden away in the dark while the flashing, lighted, moving things provided cover.

Jet was quiet and balanced himself just fine in the stroller as we all got ourselves desserts. Alex got an ice cream bar happily all over himself. Haley got to share a shake with her Dad. John got a chocolate shake, and Joan and I each got a funnel cake. Yum. We walked out with our desserts and did a longer study of the tractors that were parked so neatly, now out in the sunshine, perfect for pictures.

We all loaded back into our cars, said our good-byes and headed home.

Jet had a terrible time this evening. Between being totally exhausted and totally hungry from not eating much at the fair, he pretty much passed out at 9:15. Then he woke up at 10 for just a quick burp and bounce. The trouble was when he woke up at 11 and just wouldn't go back to sleep. He kept crying when he was put into his crib. I tried feeding him, but I'd pumped just before going to sleep at 11, and so I didn't have much, so I got nearly four ounces of formula into him. I tried getting him to sleep after that, but he wasn't just angry at being put in the crib, he got angry at being held, angry at being set down, and even angry at being offered nursing.

I could tell he wasn't angry at me, there was just too much going on in him. I think the day overloaded him thoroughly, and he just wasn't having any of anything. Everything was irritating him, and John and I finally spelled each other until Jet finally went to sleep at 2. He was up again at 4, but I just fed him and he went back to sleep this time. Then again at 6, he did the same, and didn't get up until 8.

I guess that means it's another day...

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Copyright 2001 Liralen Li. All Rights Reserved.