In August, we went to Kelowna for a few days. It was pretty fun; we swam in both pools at the motel and in the lake, we ate junk food and stayed up too late (MAINLY THE CHILDREN DID THIS), and we visited a kangaroo farm.
Yes, there is a kangaroo farm half an hour north of Kelowna. It is called Kangaroo Creek Farm and it is exactly as billed. Maybe a little less crazy than the website implies. A habitat for kangaroos and capybara and goats and some exotic birds. And emu. And ostriches.
Kangaroos are weird, it bears mentioning. They look like the progeny of a normal-animal orgy. Part rabbit, part deer, part giant squirrel, part fuzzy wuzzy fuzz bucket.
Anyway at the farm you can feed them and pet them and hold baby ones. Admission is by donation. Wear sensible shoes; the trail and path from the upper parking area to the farm is quite steep.
After we returned from Kelowna we made our annual trip to the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE). Like so many things-with-children, the PNE-with-children gets better every year. This year, Arlo used the heck out of his ride pass and Eli went on a legitimate number of rides as well. We ate some food and no one got sick.
Then came time for the midway game.
I have a conflicted relationship with the midway games. You pay $5 for a chance to win something that costs $0.50 at the dollar store. Like a tiny stuffed banana. Or a tiny stuffed smiley face. Or one of those confounded parachuting dudes whose strings always get tangled immediately.
As a counter-point, the kids always love the crappy little stuffed whatevers that they win on the midway game; they even love them for months and years afterwards, treasuring them and calling them “the stuffed banana I won on that game at the PNE, wow, I love this toy!” but it is a struggle every year for me to shell out the money for them to basically throw in the garbage.
Yes, you’re right, I could not do it, but once you’ve paid X to get in and XX on food and XXX for the rides what’s another five bucks. I didn’t say it made sense. I said I was CONFLICTED.
This year, Arlo was riding the Wave Swinger and climbing the climbing wall while Eli and I strolled the midway looking for a game he wanted to play. He stopped and stared at various games while the yelling people yelled at us to TRY IT all the KIDS GET A PRIZE come on I ONLY NEED ONE MORE PLAYER GIVE IT A TRY. He ignored them all. I tried to as well. We went and fetched Arlo because Eli didn’t want to play a game until Arlo was going to play a game.
They both stopped at the “get a ring on a bottle, any bottle, one ring on any bottle wins YOUR CHOICE” booth. This booth had only gigantic stuffed prizes. Obviously this booth did not award anyone any prizes, ever, because you could have TWELVE rings to toss for only $2; an entire bucket of rings for $5. The kids said, “WOW that is a great deal. We want to play this one.”
I was, of course, torn because a) hey that gets my money spent quickly and then we can go home but b) they are going to lose and not even get a consolation stuffed banana because this game is winner-takes-all not loser-gets-something-anyway. Because we are super parents, we decided to let consequences rule the day and spent the $5 on a bucket of rings.
Toss, bounce, toss, bounce, toss. The rings were made of rubber and the bottles were made of rubber repellent. Toss, bounce, toss, bounce, toss, bounce.
Then: toss. No bounce! Ring stayed on the bottle neck. Eli tossed a ring right onto the bottle and it stayed there. Six year old ringed the bottle.
The booth workers had no idea what to do. They had to dig around to find the scissors to cut down the prize.
“I want that bear,” Eli said, pointing above our heads at a giant, fluorescent green stuffed bear. “Do you want to look around at the other choices?” Saint Aardvark asked. Eli did. He came back to the bear.
The bear — later named Fluffy — that we* then had to carry around the PNE for another half hour while Arlo rode more rides to assuage his disappointment at not being the one who ringed the bottle. The bear that we then had to haul up the hill to my parents’ house where we always park our car when we go to the PNE. The bear that barely fit in the trunk of our Honda Civic.
*actually Saint Aardvark carried it, mostly. It sat so peacefully on his shoulders, its head resting on his head. See:
Great conversation starter, a giant green bear. The world is divided into two types of people: the ones who congratulate you on your giant green bear and the ones who scoff because they assume you spent your life savings winning the giant green bear (those people are also jealous and often in their early 20s). Just an observation.
But the six year old won the bear all by himself. Seriously. We spent five bucks, just like we always do.
August ended and September hasn’t really started yet, in my heart, because there is still no school in BC. Our teachers are still striking and our government is still waiting for them to give up. Every day is still sunny, but the days are noticeably shorter and darker around the edges. We are holding, waiting, no longer on vacation, but nowhere near a new routine.
Sometimes on my way up or downstairs I pass the kids’ room, where Fluffy waits patiently for the children to retire for the evening, and wonder why the room seems to be filled with alien-green light. A pause and a smile and I remember it’s the light of his fur: a reminder of the glowing last days of August.