My husband and I just spent the last day and a half attending the local Tulip Festival with our 6-year-old and 3-year-old. I always start out on such excursions with a feeling of excitement and visions of a happy family of four enjoying the activities. There is no fighting or whining or complaining or disobedience. The children are cooperative and grateful for the fun and food that my husband and I provide.

Then, the excursion begins. As we all get into the car, the complaining and fighting begins. “Mom, he’s touching my stuff!” “Well, she touched my stuff first!” I patiently and calmly remind them to keep their hands to themselves as we drive away. We arrive at the festival shortly and all pile out of the vehicle. My husband and I ask the kids to please wait on the sidewalk as we get the misc. bags/chairs out of the back of the vehicle. The kids proceed down the sidewalk until we loudly, but still somewhat patiently, ask them to return. Thus, begins the whining. “Awww, but we want to go now!”

We arrive at the carnival midway, choke over the cost of the rides, and quickly decide 2 rides per kid. We explain that they each get to choose 2 rides. In what feels like a matter of minutes, both rides are finished. Thus, begins the complaining. “Awww, you never let us go on rides!” “But, you just went on two rides.” “All the other kids get to ride more! You’re so mean!”

We move on to snacks. Our son chooses a corn dog, and our daughter chooses cotton candy. We find a place to sit and watch the parade. The kids dive into their snacks and finish them in short order and still want more. So, I haul out the juice boxes and snacks from home explaining that this is all we have for snacks until supper. Those snacks disappear at mach speed and the chorus of complaining and whining begins anew.

Somehow, we entertain them until the parade begins as well as the disobedience. We ask them to sit down so that others can see. “You may sit by us or sit on the curb.” This is followed by a lot of up and down and wiggling around. We ask them again, a little less patiently, to sit down. This is followed by more up, down, wiggling around and some running away with us chasing behind. We begin speaking ever more loudly and less patiently, and that’s giving us the benefit of the doubt.

At some point in the midst of all of this, I always find myself asking, “Why do we put ourselves through this? I know that it’s going to be tiresome and frustrating to manage two young children in this environment. So, why do we still choose to do this?”
Then, the answer comes to me. I remember going to the Tulip Festival as a kid. I can’t seem to recall any negative memories from those times. I’m sure that I whined and complained and disobeyed, but my parents still took me. I have only good memories of family fun.

That’s why I do it. I want my kids to have good memories of family fun. I know that when they are older, they won’t remember that they didn’t get to have as many rides and snacks as they wanted. They will remember the four of us having fun as a family. That’s what I want. Kids who grow up with good memories of family just like me.