It’s officially fall, the season that seems to come with a checklist of weird parenting stuff we’re supposed to accomplish. Not normal stuff like “brush teeth,” and “get children to school.” No, this is stuff like “Photograph your child with a laughably large amount of pumpkins” and “release your child to wander within a labyrinth of corn.”
Why are we still doing all this old-timey stuff like corn mazes, anyway? Is it like how we teach our kids the names of the farm animals from birth even though most of them have no immediate need to name a farm animal, much less the sound it makes? There has got to be more immediately relevant information for an urban toddler than farm noises.
So much of my time as a parent is spent trying to keep my kid occupied while making lasting memories. That’s why, a few weeks ago, my son and I spent an hour-and-a-half on the train so we could go to the local Medieval Festival.
You know who likes the Medieval festival? Me, when I was a very cool teenager who liked to pretend I had just time-traveled into my middle school. My son could not have been less interested. He actually covered his eyes out of spite when I tried to show him jousting.
We ended up on the playground, but he would have been just as happy rolling a car down a slanted surface literally anywhere in America.
I’m sure this won’t be the last time I try to organize family fun that is fun for no one, but in the spirit of my recent failure, I’d just like to provide this list of fall parenting traditions in which you do not have to partake, at all.
You don’t have to go apple picking.
Apple picking is a job. It’s OK if you don’t want to go pay money to do something that people get paid to do. You can get apples at the grocery store.
You don’t have to bury your kid in pumpkins.
I get it. My kid looks really good next to a pumpkin ― orange is a great color for him. But you don’t have to go somewhere where there are a bunch of pumpkins, then wait in line for an hour to snap a picture of your child adorably situated next to pumpkins. And then you just have a pumpkin in your house that you eventually have to throw out while your child cries.
You don’t have to carve a jack-o-lantern.
Because I’m not sure how carving something with a sharp knife ever became a kid-friendly activity, anyway. And if you are like me and have no basic crafting skills, your jack-o-lantern will look like its face is melting off and people will judge you.
There are crafts you can do with a toilet paper roll and a crayon that will be much less hazardous.
You don’t have to visit a corn maze or go on a hayride.
Did you know the corn maze only started in 1993? I just assumed this was some kind of old-timey farm tradition but no ― we had TV when somebody made this up. And hayrides are kind of fun, but just in the sense that getting driven around on a truck can be fun. I don’t think the hay adds any significant percentage of fun to the experience.
But the whole point with all of these things is that you CAN do them if you want to, but you don’t have to. If you just don’t want to, or you think it’s weird, or YOU’RE weird, or you’re only interested because you feel the steely claws of Pinterest at your neck pushing you to pose your spawn with seasonal gourds, then I give you permission to NOT do these things.
A story! When I was 17, I went to prom with my ex-boyfriend. We had broken up the week before, but I felt an obligation to go to prom together anyway. Because it was “PROM!” I would remember prom for my whole life, and the pictures would be important instead of just embarrassing and I would always regret it if I didn’t go to prom.
I had a shitty time at prom.
What I’m saying is that apple picking, or going on a hayride, or carving a jack-o-lantern might be your version of parenting prom. Something that sounds like it would be important for the formation of lasting memories, but which you and your kids actually don’t care about.
And as a parent, you’ve got better things to do. Like impulse-buying a bunch of stuff from the Target Halloween section and using it year-round. Which is definitely my favorite fall tradition.