Ahhh, October. That wondrous month. The colorful beauty of nature, the breeze in the air, the children jumping in leaves, the cinnamon and nutmeg...
Well, in some places.
In southern Arizona, and perhaps a few other states, October is more of a pretend-wondrous month. The temperatures do cool down, a little. Breezes do begin to blow, occasionally. But in most ways, we Arizonans have to work HARD to make October the month that it SHOULD BE. We determinedly pull out our boots and jeans and decide that -- sweat or no sweat -- we WILL wear them. We order HOT pumpkin lattes, because it SHOULD be cool outside. We drive 45 minutes across town to the pumpkin farm, so that we, like our Facebook friends, can be surrounded by red, yellow and orange things. We pay a ton of money to let our children roll around in dried corn kernels so that we can convince ourselves that it IS indeed FALL.
And, in our most desperate act of festive denial, we brave the corn maze. We surround ourselves and our families with 10-foot cornstalks, and, one way or another, we find our way out. This guarantees that -- for at least an hour -- we will be immersed in and surrounded by obvious evidence of the blessed harvest season.
BUT the corn maze also presents some risks, and some challenges. Parents desiring to make this October the best pretend-wondrous ever, should consider a few things before taking even one step over the corn-filled threshold:
1. Strongly encourage (FORCE) all of your children to use the bathroom before entering.
2. If one of your children claims -- perhaps after viewing or smelling the available outdoor accommodations -- that he doesn't have to go, MAKE HIM GO ANYWAY. This is especially important if the child has complained about ANY kind of stomach discomfort.
3. Suggestions #1 and #2 are key. Read them again. If you are still not convinced, continue.
4. Sometimes, children don't realize they have to go until you are in the middle of a convoluted corn maze.
5. Sometimes, it doesn't matter how hard they try, or how many years they have been potty trained. It might have something to do with the caramel apple, or the cotton candy, or the fluorescent sno-cone that she just devoured. Whatever the reason, sometimes, children just can NOT "hold it."
6. Corn husks do not make good wet wipes.
7. Finding your way out of a corn maze is difficult enough, but when you are holding little socks and underwear by two fingers and trying to soothe an embarrassed child at the same time, it is almost impossible. (Bright side: people will tend to move out of your way quickly when they see or smell you coming.)
8. Pumpkin farms don't always (ever?) sell clothing.
9. Petting zoo attendants don't like it when you use their hand washing sinks for your dirty laundry. But remember the state of the bathroom facilities? You use them anyway.
10. Children do not like to wear soaking wet clothing. They tend to scream when made to do so, especially in the cool fall air. But "naked" isn't an option at pumpkin farms.
11. When you are walking with your screaming, wet child, and sweating in your jeans and boots, and drinking your HOT pumpkin latte that made you feel harvest-y, the orange, brown, and yellow decorated parking lot will be a WHOLE LOT farther away than you remember.
Take it from me.
So follow suggestions #1 and #2 and have a festive, wondrous and clean October!