Metaphor at the fair

We had a fantastic day at the Western Fair on Saturday. For those who aren’t locals, the Western Fair is our fall fair. It has a big focus on farming (we are in the middle of one of North America’s most fertile areas, after all) but it also has all the additional attractions: rides, carnival games, music concerts, gambling and delicious food that seeks to shorten your lifespan. Max was full of energy and excitement, wiggling and dancing as he walked through the midway.

There were some well thought out changes made to the fair from last year, the most important one being a much bigger focus on family friendly activity that had no additional cost. Every good parent loves to take their kid to a fun event like the fair, but the costs can be pretty prohibitive. By adding free activities, the fair gave the kids more fun opportunities while letting mom and dad’s wallet have a little rest.

And like most of our outings, I had the most fun wen I was with the animals. Cows! Goats! Pot-bellied pigs! Affectionate horses! Stand-offish Alpacas! I even had the wife take a picture of me standing behind the rear end of a horse that was taller than me. And no, the horse did not poop on me. What a terrifying mess that would have been. So, as a family fun day, it was top-notch.

But let’s get to the incident that this post’s title refers to. As my little dude waited in line for his turn in the bouncy castle, I noticed a set of parents at the back of the castle and, being nosy, I went to snoop. I overheard them griping about the lineup, and the father was suggesting to another nearby parent that they just lift their kid up over the back wall and let them bounce. From the grousing and whining that continued from the parents, I realized that they had done that with their own kid. Frustrated with the speed and disorganized state of the line to get in, they had decided to break the rules and cheat. At first I wasn’t really bothered by this, until I realized that my 3-year-old was patiently standing in line and waiting for his turn. My dear wife and the ride operator were doing their best to keep the line of young, excited kids waiting without wandering off or getting upset, and they were doing a great job. So, I became enraged, and I began beaming the stare of death at both of the parents (known as “La Glare-o Del Muerte”). I debated the idea of verbally laying into the entitled pile of garbage, but my consideration for the family atmosphere kept me locked into silent stinkeye mode. And to her credit, the second mom refused to take the suggested shortcut cheat.

There was a fair amount of chaos in the waiting area for the ride, and the system wasn’t running as optimally as it could have been. The jerks in the back took that as a sign that they should ignore what’s best for everyone, and break the rules to suit their purposes. My wife, on the other hand, saw the problems with the system, and she considered the happiness and wellbeing not just of her own child, but of every child in the line. She didn’t storm up to the ride attendant and start whining about the problem, because she could see that he was doing his best. She did what every sensible, responsible and compassionate person would do: she rolled up her sleeves and pitched in. And soon, the system went back to functioning normally, and all of the kids were happy.

Maybe that is a stirring and compelling parable, or maybe my tired and sun-baked brain is misfiring. Either way, I’m proud of my wife.

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