Here’s what you learn at the San Diego County Fair: You can fry anything.
I’m not talking about the normal stuff, like hotdogs and chicken and whathaveyou. I’m not even talking about the “Did you hear that they are now frying…” stuff, like Twinkies and sticks of butter. (Sticks of butter!)
No, no that stuff. I’m talking about a place called Chicken Charlies, where they’ll fry you up some cereal. They’ll fry you Kool-Aid. Nobody who sees an advertisement for fried Kool-Aid pauses to wonder if Kool-Aid taste good fried, because we’re all wondering how in the name of all that is holy do you fry Kool-Aid in the first place?
For me, that’s pretty much the whole reason to go to the fair. (Also, you eat a stick of fried butter and you can pretty much feel good about anything else you eat for the rest of the week.)
Liz grew up going to the fair with her mom. When you’re a kid, you don’t think about how intentional those kinds of things are that your parents do for you. All you know is that when June rolls around you know you’re going to the fair. And soon your hands are sticky with cotton candy and you’re jacked up on some kind of sugar juice and somebody dares you to go on some ride that looks and acts like an angry Transformer and within seconds of being lurched into the air, upside down, you’re hoping you can hold on to your sick long enough to get off the ride and get to a trash can and then after you sit with your head in your hands while the sun bakes the back of your neck until a few more sips of sugar juice gets you feeling better and you go on a final ride on the Ferris wheel as it begins to get dark and you pass out, stuffed and sunburned and glad that you don’t have to go back for a year.
But the memories that last the full year are sanitized with the distance of just a single day. Those are the days that create for us what we call a happy childhood or at least the happy moments of childhood. Those are traditions, and parents create them intentionally because they know that when we look back at our childhood we need to follow a trail of those moments to remember who we were and what was important to us.
My wife understands this better than anyone. She makes sure the family walks to get bagels every Saturday morning. We have Taco Fridays. It’s a way of stabilizing our lives. We have things to look forward to every few days.
So it’s not just a kid thing. My wife does that for Finn and Lucy and she does it for me. She does it for her too.
It’s especially important considering how much we’ve moved in the last few years. Finn is only three and a half but we’ve lived in five different places. Lucy’s on her third home in a fifteen months. Yet they’re both oddly well adjusted. A lot of that I can chalk up to kids, but I bet a lot of it is that they know that wherever they are, on Saturday morning, they’ll have bagels. I’m not sure there’s any better gift we’re giving them.