Parent Moments: Pumpkin Patch Kid
I thought Ally would look forward to Halloween this year, now that she knew about trick-or-treating and unlimited candy, but my 3-year-old was still fearful of the fall holiday. She had dreaded stopping at Target ever since the store began displaying scary witches and monsters two months earlier and wanted nothing to do with the fake graveyards and flying ghosts gracing the aisles.
I wanted her to enjoy the season, not be frightened of it, so I decided a trip to a nearby pumpkin farm was in order.
"Halloween doesn't have to be scary, Ally," I said as we drove. "There are a lot of fun things to do to celebrate the season."
I was soon proven right. Ally's feet began moving as soon as we heard the banjo music on our way into the pumpkin farm. Her face lit up as she began to dance to the fast-paced Dixie sounds. Her eyes were wide as she began taking in all the sights -- there was a silly "skeleton band" performing on the center stage, a mountain of orange pumpkins stacked 8 feet high, and a ring of ponies waiting for a young girl to take a ride. The smell of sweet corn, hay, and candied apples mixed with the slightly pungent odors coming from the nearby petting zoo. It certainly smelled and sounded like fall to us.
Straightaway, my daughter asked to see the baby chicks. I had promised her the chance to hold some animals, so off we went to the petting zoo. Along with the chicks, we found sheep, llamas, and baby rabbits looking for someone to snuggle.
"I wish we could take him home," Ally daydreamed as she held a small, black and white rabbit.
Our next stop was the taffy apple stand, where we watched some of the farm's crop of Granny Smiths being dipped into a giant vat of creamy caramel before being rolled in freshly crushed peanuts.
"I want mine with no nuts," Ally reminded me as we stepped up to place our order. We crunched on the apples, letting their sweet juices fill our mouths, as we headed to the corn maze. We wandered through it aimlessly for awhile, getting "lost" in the field before finding our way out again by following the maps posted inside.
Then Ally led me in yet another direction. With hundreds of young children lining a set of bleachers, the hourly pig races seemed to be one of the farm's most popular attractions. The children's screams and laughs in support of their respective picks drowned out the sound of the overweight pigs' grunts and snorts as they wobbled around the track.
"Go, No. 3! Go!" Ally shouted, as her pig attempted to run but stumbled into the fence instead. "No, go that way, that way!" she yelled, pointing the oinker in the right direction.
The distinctive smell of kettle corn quickly shifted our attention, hitting our noses as we turned the corner. Our mouths began to water in anticipation of tasting the salty, sweet treat.
"It smells so good," Ally said, running to the popcorn stand.
We munched while making our way to the pumpkin patch. Thousands of pumpkins of all shapes and sizes were growing throughout the field.
"Would you like to pick a pumpkin to take home?" I asked. "We can carve it when we get back and put a candle inside to sit on the front porch. Then all the trick-or-treaters will know they can stop at our house for a treat on Halloween."
Ally's face lit up as she began running through the patch. There were so many pumpkins, and she was determined to look at as many of them as she could before choosing.
"Look, that one is still green," Ally said, pointing out a squashed pumpkin.
Finally, she settled on a round, deep-ginger-colored pumpkin that weighed more than she did. We loaded the fall fruit into our wagon and headed for the exit.
"That was a lot of fun, Mom. I wish we could go to the farm all the time. I love Halloween." she said.
The farm's pumpkins, popcorn and pigs had replaced the ghosts and goblins she feared. Ally finally was looking forward to the holiday .
And I was looking forward to being able to return to Target.
What's your favorite Halloween memory?