We had a fantastic family day this past Sunday.
In the morning, we got hopped up on muffins, played outside, and got covered in mud. Em LOVES our garden hose, and enthusiastically helps water our outdoor plants (and our miserable failure of an attempt at a raised bed garden). Somehow, watering the plants always transitions into an impressive muddy extravaganza, resulting in Em looking like a Woodstock Music Festival attendee.
Em then took a bath, and she and I had a nice little walk around the neighborhood. I was then able to coerce Em into taking an earlier nap than usual (both C and I joined her in a little family snooze fest), so that we could all go spend some quality time at the GE-sponsored Kids Day, which was taking place at the Empire Plaza in Albany.
It was a glorious day out – sunny but not too hot (which seems to be a small miracle this summer), with a bit of a breeze blowing. Many families were taking advantage of the good weather and all the free activities available at the festival, but it didn’t feel overcrowded or claustrophobic (we DID arrive rather late, so it may have been much more crowded earlier on in the day). There was a HUGE line for the balloon sculpting clown - god bless the clown for having the patience to make balloon animals for hours upon hours upon hours - but luckily Em is too young to really notice or care for balloon animals, and we were able to avoid the craziness. Most other activities had little to no lines.
Among the revelations of the day: apparently our daughter absolutely ADORES human-sized doggies, chickens, and bunnies (and by that I mean the brave/idiotic souls who dress up in heavy costumes on warm summer days and allow kids to hug them, squeeze them, and take endless photos with them). Whenever Em saw a 6 foot tall animal character walking around the plaza, she squealed with delight and said “Emmy wanna touch _______ (fill in the blank with whatever animal she had her eyes on)”. I was a little skeptical of how she would actually behave when we approached the character, but Em was super friendly and sociable, giving “high fives,” and hugs, and even talking to the costumed creatures. It was pretty friggin’ cute.
The headline act of the entire day was a live performance by the ever popular Care Bears (and when I say “ever popular,” I mean EVER popular. Because I am pretty sure Care Bears were trendy back when I was a kid, so many many moons ago). Watching the reaction of all the two, three, and four-year-olds in the audience, I could only describe it as a mini version of Bieber Fever. Children danced, swooned, and cried out as the pastel trio serenaded the crowd with classics, such as “If You’re Happy and You Know It” and “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes”. If the Care Bears asked the kids to jump, the kids jumped. If the Care Bears asked the kids to spin, the kids spinned. Let me tell you, it was a good thing the Care Bears did NOT ask the kids to smack their neighbors or throw their parents’ money on to the stage. We could have had a MAJOR catastrophe on our hands.
If you and I had been having a conversation three years ago, pre-Emmy, and you had asked me if I could ever picture myself doing an enthusiastic hokey pokey dance at a Care Bear concert, I most certainly would have laughed out loud in your face. But what can I say? Becoming a mom has turned me into a hokey pokey enthusiast, and a woman who actually kind of enjoys watching pudgy bears dancing on a stage. After all, it makes my daughter happy. And that’s really my main focus right now.
After we left the Kids Day event, C and I took Em to Hoffman’s Playland, which, if you are unfamiliar, is basically a semi-decrepit teeny amusement park located in back of a car wash business. It’s a local landmark of sorts, and is totally geared towards the 36” – 42” tall crowd. It’s kind of perfect (in a low-culture, just-for-the-fun-of-it way), in that you don’t have to deal with the long lines of a REAL amusement park, and you pay by the ride, so you can go on as few or as many (of the few) rides available without feeling like you have to make your financial investment worthwhile.
So, Emmy LOVES the choo choo train at Hoffman’s. LOVES. The train goes at a speed of about 2.5 miles per hour (I swear I saw ants crawling at a speedier pace), and makes two loops through the park. At a certain point during the loop, the train goes through a teeny tunnel, which the kids are fond of (especially if you make spooky noises to accompany the tunnel’s darkness), but that’s as about as exciting as it gets, folks.
We rode the oh-so-thrilling train ride three times. Three. Long. Times. And I am pretty sure Em would have liked to go on the train another 24 times, had we not bribed her away from the park with the promise of ice cream.
Riding a very very slow mini train six times around a dilapidated amusement park is another one of those things I probably never would have imagined myself doing in my pre-Emmy days. But every time that train blew its whistle, Em jumped up and down in her seat, and looked as happy as a clam. And for that reason alone, I will be returning to Hoffman’s, and that snail-paced choo choo, at least five or six more times this summer.