Why is there hay in my hair?

Ahhh, Fall. The leaves are turning, the crock-pot is humming, and I can finally break out my gargantuan collection of tights and stop blinding everyone with my pasty bare legs (you are welcome.)
Parenting means one other Fall tradition as well:
The annual pilgrimage to the pumpkin patch.
I don’t remember this being a thing when I was growing up – but now it is a “where and when” not an “if” conversation among fellow parents. You don’t question, you just GO.

In the city, Pumpkin Patch Day meant a visit to the grounds of the church where Jr. went to daycare as an infant. They trucked in MASSIVE amounts of pumpkins, set up hay bales and corn stalks and photo areas, and BOOM, insta-urban pumpkin patch. “Pumpkins for Jesus,” as The Mr. and I affectionately called it, was Jr’s first pumpkin patch. It was laid back, not too crowded, and provided ample opportunity to wander through the rows of pumpkins with a cup of cider, take plenty of pictures, and pick out a pumpkin or two. No muss, no fuss.

Pumpkin Patch Day in the suburbs? It is no undertaking for amateurs, sucker. No, no, no, it is serious advanced family fun business.
First you have to pick your patch –and there is dizzying selection available in the farm areas that stretch out just beyond the suburban sprawl. More important than which farm you visit is WHEN you go, as we learned after a last minute impulse decision to “just go check it out” sent us into the battle zone at peak crowd time last year. (Gigglesnort. We were such rookies.)
Plotting your actual route to the farm carefully is imperative as well. These things create their own traffic jams the way large forest fires create their own weather patterns. Approaching from the wrong side could add to the in-car wait time as you inch along in a marching-ant-like line toward your destination. This seriously increases the chance that your adorable child will already be in melt-down mode before you even plant his tiny feet in that muddy field.
Speaking of the field, jockeying for the good gourd and charming pictures of the offspring tromping through the rows of pumpkins is hard as hell when you are surrounded by every person who lives in the damn county.
But it isn’t just a pumpkin patch. OH NO!! We can’t forget the Family Fun Area!
Farm animals, corn mazes, hay rides, pumpkin bouncy houses, face painting, and loads of caramel apples to assure that it all sticks to your kid real good. Oh Yeah.
Some kiddos are THRILLED to be there. So thrilled, in fact, that extracting them leads to screaming tantrums a billion times more scary than any haunted fun house. Other munchkins are less excited, yelling through the staged family photo op, crying down the giant inflatable slide, and recoiling in horror from the Shetland ponies in the petting zoo. Either way, it’s a lot of screaming.

It’s kind of Halloween Hell.

Except that it’s not.
It’s holding Jr’s hand while he runs on top of a track made out of hay bales and squeals with unmatched Toddler glee.
It’s watching him and The Mr. carefully comparing contenders to find *the* perfect pumpkin to cut off the vine.
It’s this picture.

Hammin' it up at the Pumpkin Patch

It’s kind of pretty great.
Oh –and it’s also NOT being rookies anymore and being smart enough to go at 9am on Sunday morning during prime church-going time. A plan that would have totally screwed us back at Pumpkins For Jesus, BTW.

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