Sunday, July 31, 2011

County Fair

Last week, we took Alex to our local county fair, one of the annual traditions he looks forward to doing every summer. As always, we took him through the livestock barns to see the pigs, cows, sheep, goats, rabbits, and his favorite, the horses. Although he’s not terribly interested in the animals themselves, he does enjoy reading the information cards on each animal’s pen telling data such as its birthdate or weight since he categorizes everything numerically. One of his favorite exhibits features young farm animals, but the real draw for Alex is that each animal pen has a quiz question about that animal, such as, “How many stomach parts does a cow have?” This year, he got every single question on this interactive quiz correct. I’m not certain if he just memorized the answers from previous years, or maybe he actually learned something about the animals from these exhibits.

Besides the animals, we visited the antique tractor tent, where my dad, who grew up on a farm when he was a boy, told more information about these old tractors than the signs that just noted their brand and year of manufacture. Of course, Alex was most interested in the dates on the signs and probably didn’t really care that Grandpa’s dad used a 1930’s Farmall tractor when Grandpa was growing up on the farm. On the other hand, we’re never sure what Alex is absorbing mentally when he has the bemused smile upon his face.

After we checked out the animals and farm equipment, we headed over to the midway to see the rides and games. Because we’re uncertain how Alex would react to the carnival rides, due to his sensory issues, he just watches other people and seems to prefer being an observer, rather than a participant. However, he does like to play the duck pond game, where he chooses three rubber ducks from the water and is guaranteed to win a prize. The woman who ran the duck pond booth this year was especially kind to Alex, patiently showing him his options for prizes and waiting until he was ready to choose from three different stuffed animals. This year, he chose a blue stuffed snake, which he carried around at the fair and has continued to carry around the house since then.

With the hot weather, I was pleased to find a misting station in the midway, where people could stand and be sprayed by a cool water mist. Alex wasn’t as eager to try this cool treat, but he finally tried standing under the refreshing spray. Before we left the fair, we decided to get cold drinks and relax at a picnic table under the shade of a tent. I told Ed to get large drinks, not knowing that the large cups were 32 ounces. Alex must have been thirsty because he downed his 32-ounce Sierra Mist rapidly and then drank about half of Ed’s Pepsi. As we watched Alex enjoy his time at the fair, Ed and I remarked about how he’s changed over the years. When he was little, we wheeled him in the stroller, then for several years we both held onto him tightly as though he were a fugitive about to escape, later we took him in a transport chair so that we could easily wheel him through the crowds, and now he walks with us, a young man confident about where he’s going. The only thing he didn’t seem to like was having his picture taken. Maybe he really is a typical teenager after all, and our trying to capture those “Kodak moments” embarrasses him. We were pleased by how well he handled himself despite the noise, crowds, and various smells, but we were most pleased that he really enjoyed himself during this annual trip to the fair.

“God made all sorts of wild animals, livestock, and small animals, each able to produce offspring of the same kind. And God saw that it was good.” Genesis 1:25

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