The Darker Side of Festivals

“I saw people going away with balloons! Balloons! That means they must have had fun, it’s going to be fun!”

This prefaced our day at a festival I will write more positively about later, because it was a pretty neat one. I won’t name it now, as the troubles with this afternoon had nothing whatsoever to do with this festival or its organizers, and everything to do with the nature of overtired four year olds and their mommies.

So yes, we got balloons. Pretty easy way to get Cameron smiling, and also a pretty easy lead-in to a meltdown if it should escape or pop. So I have a love-hate relationship with balloons, and securely tie them to Cameron’s belt loop after ensuring that the balloon is firmly attached to the ribbon.

Then the I WANTing started. Can we have? Can we get this? I want this! Why can’t we? Pleeeaaase? But I waaaant it! Pleeeeaasse? Just this? I want it! Just that? I had zero cash on me, poor planning on my part, but then I don’t want festivals to turn into stuff-accumulation sessions. I don’t want “We’re going to a festival,” to mean “We get to buy what I want!” So I tend to err on the side of stingy. Once the I wanting starts, it doesn’t end.

Hand-in-hand with the no-honeys that go along with the I-wants comes the whining. Like I want, whining doesn’t ever end. It just goes on and on, perhaps interrupted by an interesting thing to watch, but not for long.

Then the glazed-eye over-stimulated pacing starts. Here. There. Want to do this. And this. And this. With no real satisfaction or happiness evident in the process.  Crafts and silly hats seem obligatory, but we’re not yet at a point where this means I can sit him down at a craft table. Oh no – they mean typically Mommy does crafts while Cameron whines that he doesn’t want to do it, or can’t do it, and melts down if I don’t. Now, to be fair, there wasn’t too much of that this time. But it just seemed like there were these crafts that he HAD to do, but didn’t actually enjoy them or even want the final product.

The  pacing also gets frustrating for me in lineups. There’s a fun thing to do, but this means there’s a lineup. Cameron wants to do the fun thing, but lineups suck – and the switch goes off. Yanking on my arm, whining, standing on my toes, whining, wanting to be picked up, whining, and paying no attention whatsoever to whatever it is we’re waiting to do. “Do you want to do this Cameron,” I ask? “Because there’s lots of other things, we don’t have to …” “But I waaaaaant to Mama!”

There’s a point where you suddenly realize that you should bring bags to these things because you’re carrying twenty two small  craft items and pamphlets that your child will never miss if you drop them … except that one that you did drop. Because it was either that or your dignity, as your child yanked hard enough on your skirt to put your pink thong undies on display to anyone behind you.

Sometimes experiencing new cultures isn’t the best thing in the world. Sometimes things are already rough, and those ‘new’ things are just irritating.  And attitudes that I’ll frown at someone else for expressing come out of my mouth. “Gawd, all I hear in this music is whining. Is it just me or is it the exact tones of a child who wants something and needs a nap?” The whining music was loud and blaring, overwhelming me, so I had whining coming from all directions. Did not help my mood. And then there was the well-meaning lady who gave out salty licorice to an already unhappy Kate. I can only imagine just how disappointing that was, to be anticipating candy and having a mouth full of salt instead. Blech.

As we left, Cameron was wailing that he wanted to hold my hand. Reaching, grabbing, reaching, and yes, sobbing. He wanted to be carried, he wanted to hold my hand. He tried to climb up my leg. I was refusing to even look at him at this point, as he’d just hit and kicked me simply because I wouldn’t answer a question he wasn’t asking and instead insisted on repeatedly answering the question that he kept asking. And then he grabbed, instead of my hand, my skirt. And yanked hard. I caught it somewhere around my knees, and yelled at the top of my lungs, “GET OFF OF ME!”

We left with a balloon, but I doubt any child we passed said, “They must have had fun.”

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3 responses to “The Darker Side of Festivals

  1. Hugs! Did not sound like a lovely afternoon. Hope there were many ‘Happinesses’ to balance the day. Love.

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