Attending the fair is an annual tradition at our house. Since my daughter was born, we’ve taken her to our local Four States Fair. Yesterday marked the fourth year she has made the pilgrimage, and as I watched her shine throughout the excitement, I pondered how much we learn about life at an early age.
Below are four lessons I was reminded of about life as I watched my daughter enjoy the fair this year.
1. Don’t Judge the Future from a Past Experience
The kickoff to fair week is always a trip to the Fair Parade. This year, however, my toddler was anything by excited about going. You see, we had attended a small town American parade we’d stumbled upon a few weeks earlier, and she’d been thrown a piece of gum. We wouldn’t let her have the gum, but we did let her have the 15 other pieces of candy she caught as the route made its way past us.
“They might throw me gum. They don’t know I’m a kiddo, and I can’t have gum. So I don’t want to go,” was the perfectly thought out explanation that came out of her mouth, as this big blue three year old eyes looked up at me.
“But they might throw you lollipops or necklaces or other things you love, let’s go,” was my response.
Reluctantly she got in the car. As we waited for the parade to start, she repeatedly said, “They better not throw me gum because I’m a kiddo, and I can’t have gum.”
We lucked out. Not a single piece of gum came her way. But she did make out like a bandit. In the end, she was glad she went.
How many times in life do we let the negative thoughts of the last let us miss out on the positive excitement our future holds for us?
Lesson #1: Don’t let one negative experience ruin your chances of positive experiences in the future.
2. Eat the Extra Calories
I half-heartedly put in this tip because I’m a mom struggling to take off the “Toddler 15”. You know what I mean…those 15 extra pounds that creep on as you eat the leftovers off your child’s plate because you don’t want to waste them?
Last night at the fair I had packed a bag full of health snack options. When it came time for dinner, out of all the food at the fair, my toddler wanted pizza.
When in Rome, do as the Romans! I couldn’t force her to eat healthy food in the middle of the fair experience. But I was one proud mama when about halfway through her pizza, she switched to eating her applesauce pouch and asked for a drink of water.
Lesson #2: It’s okay to splurge on food in moderation. Just don’t make it a habitual affair.
3. Don’t Let Your Fears Hold You Back
There was no prouder moment as a mom during our fair trip than the moment I looked up and saw my three year old proudly walking across the “shaky bridge” on the slide ride.
We actually try to make it out to three county fairs a year. My daughter loves any ride with a slide attached to it, but one of the rides requires her to cross two shaky bridges to reach the slide. She has always frozen as she reached the bridge area, and the only way to get her across was to hold her petrified little body, as she clinched on to me.
This year, there was still fear before she made it to the bridge. But her dad told her she could only do the ride if she faced her fear. She did it! One foot on the bridge. Then another foot. One tiny little step at a time, she conquered her fear.
Lesson #3: Don’t let the voice in your head hold you back from the excitement in life. Conquer your fears one step at a time.
4. Life is Best Enjoyed with Friends
We spent the first two hours at the fair with just our family. It was fun, and we conquered a lot of rides.
But the last two hours we were there, our toddler was in Heaven. Her friend arrived to ride the rides with her. Hand-in-hand, they set off to enjoy the magic of the fair together.
Riding rides with mom and dad had been fun. Riding rides with her friend was a total blast. Two little kiddos, totally in a world of their own. A world where laughter, excitement, innocence, and a tiny bit of the unexpected, ruled the night.
Lesson #4: Time is sometimes best spent with a friend by your side who sees the world from your level.
Kids grow up too fast. Life flys by in a blink. As I watch my daughter grow daily, I am reminded there’s nothing we cannot conquer when we put our mind to it.
Life is full of a million tiny moments. In each of those moments we learn lessons that shape our future. We make choices that define our thoughts. We grow as people. I’m blessed to be the mommy of a three year old who helps me see the world through her eyes…one tiny new step at a time.