Yesterday, we went to King Richard’s Faire.
As much as Brooke hates crowds, she loves fairs. Mostly because she adores rides. And we heard there were rides. So we thought it was worth a try. Especially on a three-day weekend when the crowds would be a bit lighter than usual. We thought perhaps she’d like the costumes and the carnival atmosphere. We thought that the pastoral setting would make it easier for her to access than something more cramped. We thought … we thought … we thought …
It was, to be blunt, an epic disaster.
Because her idea of a ride is this ..
NOT this …
And her idea of characters is this …
NOT this …
The crowds were overwhelming. Shows were happening everywhere, meaning that random groups of humans were clumped together in unpredictable ways everywhere she turned. It was, to put it mildly, awful.
Within three minutes of spending our $88 to get in, Luau and I realized that the only shot that we had of making a go at this would be to split up. He took Brooke to the uh, rides, while Katie and I wandered around.
Katie gleefully declared the place, “Dork Heaven.” Which apparently is a good thing.
They had spices …
And face painting …
And awesome hats …
They had the stocks, where it is said that errant tweens were held and put on public display in the town square during Medieval days. As you can see, this one is using some sort of gang sign to communicate with others.
They even had this nifty woodland fairyland where visitors were handed strings to tie on to the structure, and in so doing, make a wish. Katie asked that I not share the picture that I took of her wish-making because it was kind of a private thing. I thought that was sort of beautiful. Thankfully, I got a pre-wish photo, so here it is.
She even took one of me making my wish, which was more of a prayer that I may or may not have cried a little while making, so we’ll just leave that alone.
I had told Katie that she could choose one thing to buy from the fair — er, buye from ye olde faire. Every time she picked something up, she’d say, “So this would be my one thing, right?” and, with confirmation that, yes, that would be her one thing, she’d put it down again. Until we came to a shop selling hand-made leather-bound journals. There was no turning back; she’d found her thing. It was a burgundy leather book filled with hand-pressed paper and finished with a nifty old-fashioned lock. Even though she was sure, I convinced her to keep walking just in case. She agreed, left the shop without it, made it ten feet and said, “I’m not going to see anything I want more than that.” We went back in and bought it.
Meanwhile, Luau and Brooke were struggling. He finally texted me to say that they were at the end of their rope. We found each other and she collapsed into me. I took her in my arms and sent Katie and Luau off to go and get some food.
I have no idea what to say about that time. All I’ve really got is what I would write when we were in the car later on our way home.
When we got into the car, Brooke would say through tears, “I had a sad day today,” and I wouldn’t have the energy to do anything more than hold her and say, “I know, baby. I’m so sorry.”
But at the end of the day, when we’d both once again found our respective calms, I’d go searching. Because there had been one moment, just one moment, of magic at that damned fair before it had gone to hell in a hand basket. And I’d captured it. And I was determined to find it. Because I wanted her to remember that even in the midst of the nightmare, there was a moment that was pure and good and sweet. She needed to know that.
So we looked at the photos together as we lay in her bed. And we laughed.
Because Brooke had seen this guy wearing armor and a huge pumpkin on his head. And when she did, she’d run up to him and, without a word, engaged him in a round of Pat-a-Cake. Because, clearly, this was a guy who looked like he’d want to play Pat-a-Cake.
And wouldn’t you know it – he did.
There are days when this road feels impossibly hard. When our children’s pain is more than anyone could be expected to bear. On those days, there is nothing easier, nothing more tempting, than giving into the darkness.
It’s there. And it feels like it’s all that’s there.
But damn it, it’s not.
There is light in the cracks. And there are always cracks and there’s always light coming through them. There is nothing more important, especially for our sweet babies, than finding it.
Even if it happens to be a knight in a giant pumpkin head playing Pat-a-Cake.
* Thank you, Pumpkin Man.