When I see a photo like the one at right, of anyone but my family, I always think, "wow, they are so together, they actually went to a parade early enough to get front row seats. They have it so together!"
When I see this picture I remember my good intentions in March when I saw a notice at the library that there would be a parade in honour of our (small) city's 100th birthday.
As the day grew closer I noted that Husband had an all day retreat, but I ventured, it was an endeavor I might try to take the kids.
You see, we are not people who heads for crowded family friendly venues often. We don't frequent open air music concerts, community parades or children's festivals.
One time in 2006, we went to Golden Spike days, an local annual festival. Our kids were pretty small, but we decided to go against our nature to avoid crowds and brave the crowds. We got there and saw a ridiculous lineup for face painting. Actually, there were three of about equal length. We bravely got in one. After about 15 minutes I noticed the other 2 lineups were moving and ours wasn't. I investigated and discovered the face painter for whom we waited was at lunch. For 45 minutes.
I used all my powers of persuasion to convince the kids to abandon the face-painting idea. Instead we lined up for a bouncy slide. It was a long lineup too, but it was moving and there was no sign of impending lunch breaks. We reached the front and each kid was to get two turns. My kids had one when the attendant told them they were done and attempted to shuffle them to the exit. I helicopter-Mom'ed my way into the slide area and told the kids to take their second slide.
Then we headed to the spray park so the kids could get a little wet and went home. Where we had wine waiting.
Since then there had been an occasional foray into crowds, but only when I know someone has been there and I can quiz them on parking, the best time to go and the best activities to do.
Fast forward to 2013 and the Centennial parade. I enthusiastically told the kids about the parade. By happy coincidence, we found out that a bunch of dances from Sydney's dance school (including her BFF) would be in the parade. The night before when I mentioned it again, Jackson asked "do I have to go?"
"No", I said. "I am not going to force you to go to something fun. That's optional."
I went to bed rolling my eyes.
The next morning, Jackson asked again. I gave the same response. Then Sydney asked.
"I am trying to take you to a parade where PEOPLE WILL THROW CANDY AT YOU. No you do not have to go. But you realize parades were made for kids, right?"
It's not like I was trying to get them to go to the International Film festival to watch Danish films with French subtitles.
What followed was a Q & A about how long it would be (an hour?), how many floats (50, I think?), whether we could just go for 15 minutes and leave (NO!!).
Eventually, Sydney saw the error of her ways (the candy helped) and agreed to venture out. We readied to go, and I asked Jackson one more time (because he changes his mind a lot).
"Jackson, no pressure, we're leaving, if you want to go, it's your last chance." He declined so Sydney and I headed out the door.
I backed out of the garage, down the driveway and onto the road. As I was about to drive off who comes running down the driveway and hops into the car but my reluctant parade-boy.
He made it just under the wire. Only he was in bare feet. Fortunately, I noticed. A wall-to-wall search for shoes and we headed down to the parade route. As luck would have it, my parking plan was a good one. We got a spot, and scored a front row viewing spot at the beginning of the parade. I am no dummy -- a spot at the beginning means less waiting!
We still had about 20 minutes to spare, when it dawned on me (perhaps I am a dummy??) that the parade started at 11 and I expected to go to 12 (at least). I had no food and no water. But we were a stone's throw from a grocery store and the kids are old enough to stay put guarding our primo front line seats. So I ran to the store, grabbed some muffins and water and had them snacked up by the time the parade started.
As I predicted candy was a plentiful (as were coupons and flyers) and we had a good time. Jackson, though, had paid careful attention to the Q & A and he was also watching the numbering on the float. Once we go to about 45 he said "wow, the parade is almost over".
Only it wasn't. I had misread the list and I knew we were not halfway through since Sydney's dance school was at about the halfway point and we hadn't seen them.
Though full credit, despite my misrepresentation on the number of floats, he didn't really show parade fatigue until past the time estimate (an hour). And even then, I ignored him and he knew not to go Def Con 5.
And the moral of the story? It may never be easy, but we can enjoy a parade!