Tuesday, October 15, 2013

It's the great pain-in-the-a$$, Charlie Brown

Autumn is my favorite time of year. The crispness of both the air and the apples just makes me happy.

And how about them changing leaves, right? Certainly one of nature's more majestic yearly recurrences, particularly when viewed from a sunny, mountainous vantage point. Many activities in the fall lend themselves to viewing the leaves, like going apple or pumpkin picking, hitting the outlets, going on hay rides, or simply driving around to see the trees in all their colorful glory.

These activities go on everywhere, but are definitely concentrated in the Northeast region. If you are a parent, they have become somewhat of a tradition, rite of passage and necessary part of life. The traditions of autumn are so beautiful and delightful, I really have no choice but to mock them.

You see, like most great things, there is the fundamentally good bit: the reason we all do it. And then there is the crap that goes along with it: the ridiculousness we all must suffer through in order to enjoy the good bits. To illustrate my point:

Good bit: Lovely day out in the fresh air
Bad bit: Traveling an hour from home and then sitting in traffic for an additional hour to go the final 1,000 feet as the orchard has neither perfected mass parking nor crowd control. It also appears that no fewer than 5,000 other families have had the same genius idea to go early on a beautiful fall Sunday. Roll down the windows and suck in someone else's exhaust of fresh air, baby. We in the country.

Good bit: Hot cider donuts
Bad bit: Burning your mouth on a hot cider donut... yes, but it hurts so good.

Good bit: Fun family-oriented activities
Bad bit: Frighteningly overpriced family-oriented activities: $2 for a slide down an inflatable slide? One slide down is $2... seriously? Oh, yeah, cause most kids are good with just one of anything. They barely know the words 'again,' 'another' and 'one more.'

Good bit: Engaging your child in the harvest process; teaching them about nature, growing fruit and how to collect their own food.
Bad bit: Smacking a rotten, wormy apple out of their hand before they are able partake in the fruits of their labor.

Good bit: Fresh picked apples
Bad bit: $25 for a bag of apples that is too large to bring back to a city apartment, no matter how many apple sauces/cakes/crumbles you plan on making.

Good bit: Shaking a tree to get the best apples from the top
Bad bit: Three words for you: baby black eye.

Good bit: Pony rides
Bad bit: $6 to go 50 feet on a pony and then having to spend the rest of the afternoon explaining why the pony had a full face mask on and why it's not as scary and horrible as it looks, when frankly, you're not convinced it isn't.

Good bit: Hay rides
Bad bit: Pulling hay splinters out of your ass the rest of the afternoon/evening and ripping your favorite "fall sweater" on one of the rails when you hit a bump.

Good bit: Great pictures to remember all the fun
Bad bit: In case you don't know how I feel about taking pictures of my kid, please refresh your memory here. In summary, taking pictures of my kid is torturous. The fun of the day was completely stripped away by the tedium of trying to record it all.
Looking around the pumpkin patch, I realized that we were surrounded by clusters of other families also floating around this autumn purgatory (too many people to be heaven, too many donuts to be hell). These folks were screaming their kids' names, propping up babies that continued to roll off of pumpkins, dangerously perching small children on rickety wheelbarrows and just looking miserable in general. I had to wonder, why do we all continue to subject ourselves to this nonsense?
Of course I know the answer: it is a combination of needing to post our whereabouts on Facebook or other social media to let everyone know we have ticked the autumn tradition box this year coupled with the pursuit of the highly coveted holiday card pic. Or if you're like us, pix, because we need several B-/C+ pictures to show people what our kid kind of, sort of looks like when we're wishing them a happy holidays.
The only way I could make the experience of trying to get a holiday card photo worse would be to partner it with the day of fun that includes sitting in traffic, poking my a$$ with hay, overpaying for a pony ride, burning my mouth on hot cider and getting stung by a bee. Then go to a pre-fabricated pumpkin patch (read: bunch of pumpkins lazily tossed onto a patch of dirt/parking lot) and attempt to figure out which settings on the camera will: A)gets my kid to smile and not look like she's saying the "CH" part of "cheese," B)keep her eyes open in the sun, and C)blur out the seven other families in the background of the picture who are all trying to do the same thing.
And yet, there we are, year after year, joining in on all that fun. Only to discover two months later when we are assembling our holiday card that the few pictures we thought we might be able to use actually suck. Of course we never put them on Facebook because we were "saving" them, but by then it's too late. People are already putting their awkward pictures with Santa up while we were holding those fall ones back for our holiday card. The holiday card which will now include a well-cropped photo of the kid on the toilet because she was having a good hair day and a blurry, overexposed one from the pumpkin patch because we think she looks the best in it, even if you can barely see her.

So, happy fall everybody! Hope your apples are crisp, your lines are short and your hay is soft. I also hope you enjoy these pictures of my amazing day with my family. These pictures were not at all frustrating to take and I look forward to doing it all over again next weekend... ha ha, yeah right. I need at least a full year before I'm able to do it all again.
Convinced this was THE shot, but Someone was messing around with the settings so we'll never know.

Look! Look! My city kid is handling a gourd! Isn't that just so outdoorsy of us?

Check out the family of ten behind us... we only had to get one kid to smile in each photo. I can't wrap my head around how annoying their picture-taking was.

These weren't "two-bite" donuts per se, but that's pretty much how we eat donuts.

She's a sucker for a hole in a painted piece of wood...
Who am I kidding? We all are.
This girl just realized she's on a pony for the first time. This guy just realized he's going to be in everybody's pictures today.

The directive was: hug the pumpkin. I actually told her to do that. Eat your heart out Annie Leibowitz.

Note to self: If you are planning on using pictures for the holiday card, make sure to wipe the donut crumbs off her face first.

Drunk in the pumpkin patch again! Unless you can't make jokes about two year olds being drunk in which case, ha ha, look at her uncomfortably lying down on the pumpkins... hi-LAR-ious!
And yes, obviously I have held some photos back to put on Facebook and some others back to put on the card. That's how this sh!t works. Don't hate the playa, hate the game.

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