All I really need to know I learned from carnies, racing pigs, and my four-year-old son

Observations from yesterday’s visit to the Star of Texas livestock show and carnival. . .

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Observation one: Carnies are mean. I feel bad for them and their beaten-down bodies, stuck out in the wind and the dust and the white sun, watching kids wet themselves all day on rides in that go in circles.

But then a Carny grunts or snarls or says something ugly, and I think, “Go to hell, Carny.” And then I notice that the Carny has no teeth and that a tumor shaped like a banana is growing on his lip, and I figure the Carny probably has his reasons for being surly.

Observation two: Eli is barely a little boy anymore. Holding him up to see the roller coaster we were about to zoom off on yesterday, I realized that my days of scooping him up like that are numbered. For the first time at the carnival, he rode on big boy rides by himself, laid the mat down on the big slide without help, and fastened his seat belt on the swinging pirate ship ride.

Seeing him take care of himself, I thought about how he knows his letters and how he’s adding and subtracting and how kindergarten looms in August.

Kindergarten. How did that happen? Isn’t Eli still supposed to be two, sitting on my shoulders, laughing about being as tall as a tree?

Observation three: We’d have two pigs, six chickens, a pony, a camel, a three-legged alpaca, and a giraffe in the back yard if Sally had her way.

Here’s yesterday at the pig races at the livestock show:

Sally: “Look at the cute pig? Can we get one? Can we?”

Me: “A pig? No.”

A few minutes later. . .

Sally: “The donkey at the petting zoo looks sick. I think he needs a loving, safe home. You know, like ours.”

Me: “I don’t think so.”

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A few weeks ago. . .

Sally: “You know how much you hate mowing the yard? Okay, so what if we bought a goat and a sheep? You’d never have to mow again. How cool would that be?”

Me: “No.”

And, as always, there’s the pony pitch. . .

Sally: “What we need is a miniature pony. They’re not much bigger than a dog, and I hear they make good house pets, except for the fact that you can’t potty train them.”

Me: “No.”

I’ll cave eventually. I always do. It’s just a matter of time before Sally persuades me that Caroll the Camel belongs in our back yard and in our living room.

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3 Responses to “All I really need to know I learned from carnies, racing pigs, and my four-year-old son”


  1. 1 feeddunk March 24, 2009 at 11:03 am

    My wife is exactly the same!
    Kids sure do grow up fast! To think, I have one in 1st and one in 2nd. Wow

  2. 2 lesleyfamily March 25, 2009 at 9:21 am

    Since you’re kids are older, the empty nest will appear sooner, which means you, my old pal, will become the proud owner of a llama two years before me.

    On the bright side, you’ll never have to buy sweaters or wool socks again.

  3. 3 Manda March 25, 2009 at 9:19 pm

    I noticed this week that hoisting Dalton up is not as easy as it used to be. The boy is, well, a boy. With both kids in a shopping cart, I realized, I’m pushing around about 70 pounds + my stuff. It’s weird to think about entering the “grown up kid” phase of life, but slowly but surely it’s happening. We hear “No, I want to do it” more often each day. Bittersweet. Emphasis on the sweet, though.


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