It is time once again for every family to make their pilgrimage into the farmlands of America to pick their fall pumpkin. I have no idea how this tradition was started but I am sure it has some kind of interesting history. I am convinced that someday one of these pumpkins farms will make a video about it and force me to watch it before entering the farm.
Going to a farm is the kickoff to the three month holiday season and in many ways sets the tone for how well Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years will go. With the pumpkin picking raised to such a high level in our society now here are some tips on how to get the most from this experience.
Leave the stroller at home
Every year I see helpless parents trying to push strollers through dirt parking lots. Dirt and the modern day stroller do not move forward. Some parents will protest because they bought a Jeep Stroller that was advertised as an off road stroller. Even these strollers will eventually have to be carried back to the car well one parent tries to hold the baby and corral the other two kids. If you absolutely have to bring a stroller skip the farm and go to the make shift pumpkin tents that pop up in parking lots all over your city.
Bring a box of Kleenex
City kids are born in sterile hospitals and transported home in sterile cars and go to day cares that are cleaned every hour. With so little exposure to the world around them their bodies have not had the opportunity to build up a defense for things as dangerous as a hay bail. Bring plenty of Kleenexes and prepare to wipe noses frequently. If you forget Kleenex’s the farm hands will no doubt offer you their handkerchief which if used will definitely give your child’s body an opportunity to use some of its defense skills.
You do not actually pick a pumpkin
‘Pick’ is a tricky word and leaves some parents confused. When you go apple picking you use some farm skills to pull the apple from the tree. Pumpkins picking however is more like picking an outfit for the day. Don’t bring a shovel the pumpkins will be ready for you take them.
The hay ride is not as fun as you remember
The hay ride is the reason we all go to the farms instead of the grocery store to get our pumpkin. The hay ride is not fun however. When we were kids we loved the hay ride. Getting pulled behind a tractor was much better than the quarter ride at Kroger. Now every hard pull the tractor makes we count the days it will take the chiropractor to get all the vertebrae lined up again.
Several kids will appear to be without a parent
Somehow at ever pumpkin patch there will be at least 3 kids who will bother you all day. These children have no parents apparently because you will have to load their pumpkin into the hay ride, lift them up to get a drink of water, answer several hundred of their questions and put their straw in their juice box. How these kids got there, who their parents are and how they will get home are all mystery’s that will never be solved. However be warned if you push one them off the hay ride it is still murder.
The corn maze is a metaphor for the whole day
The corn maze sounds like a great idea, a chance for your family to work together towards one common goal of finding the exit. After a half an hour or so of dead ends it becomes more of a lesson on life than the family bonding you had hoped. Please do not feel bad when your children began to whine about how itchy the corn is and the tears start because in a moment of frustration you said “we are never getting out of here, this is probably where we will all die”. The wailing and gnashing of teeth will not be heard because the rest of the maze patrons are doing the same thing. The corn maze will teach your children that life ends in dead ends until one day you exit this life. This is healthy for them to learn when they are 3 instead of when they are 30.
Don’t buy the pumpkin add-ons
The accessory tents are tempting but fight the urge to buy the adorable pumpkin trinkets. As soon as you get home you will realize your mistake and fight for years to get rid of them at a garage sale. Your kids will see special carving tools. These tools do not overcome your complete lack of artistic ability. Stick with the kitchen knives, the round eyes and triangle nose. A 40 dollar knife is not going to give your daughter the Justin Bieber pumpkin she wanted this year.
Their school will probably take them anyway
You can as most seasoned parents do just let the school take them. Every year schools all across the country load kids up and take them to the pumpkin patch without parental involvement. This saves the hassle of going all the way out of town on a Saturday when your favorite college football team plays. It also gives your family plenty of time to bond in your own backyard that is allergy free and does not charge an outrages entrance fee.
When it is all said and done the day at the farm is an escape from the reality of city life. The reality of city life of course is much better and a day at the farm reminds all of us how good we have it. As you pull away from the farm make sure you remind your children of how hard you work in your cubicle so they do not have to stack hay bales and drive tractors and walk to school uphill both ways in 3 feet of mud.