Daughter stomachs fair better than dad

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The human body is an amazing machine, particularly when it's young.

Nowhere is this more apparent than at the SEMO District Fair.

I accompanied my 10-year-old daughter, Bailey, to the fairgrounds Saturday.

We arrived about noon, just in time to dine on fair food.

While I love fair food, it doesn't always mix with carnival rides. At least, not for me.

I went on only a few rides with Bailey. After one spinning ride, I felt sick to my stomach. After that, I was forced to let Bailey ride the rides by herself.

Bailey didn't feel sick at all. Her stomach apparently was made of steel. Fried potatoes didn't bother her. Neither did any of the other fair food.

In fact, she got stronger as the afternoon wore on. She rode the Sea Dragon pirate ship time after time. Riders sit in rows in the "boat," which swings back and forth, sending the ship high into the air like a crazed pendulum.

Bailey rode in the back row every time. That way she could best feel the thrill of each high swing and the resulting tug of gravity.

Bailey kept coming back for more. She smiled down at me from her high perch, waving wildly at me.

Nothing was going to deter her anti-gravity goal.

Bailey spent most of the afternoon riding the big rides. As a fifth-grader, she's no longer interested in the kiddie rides.

One particularly wicked ride puts riders in little enclosed roller-coaster cars that travel around the inside of a spinning, oval structure.

I've ridden tall roller coasters at amusement parks. But I'd never consider riding this. All that spinning would make me sick.

Thankfully, Bailey didn't ride that one. It would have made me ill just to watch. But I doubt it would have bothered her.

Which gets back to my point: Children have an uncanny ability to find sheer delight in anything that spins, drops or swings them through the air.

They can stomach such rides with ease. Their lives seem perfectly balanced when they're upside down or soaring high in the sky.

I'm convinced children just like looking down on their parents. On the Midway, we're always looking up at them.

Of course, Bailey didn't spend all afternoon on the rides. She devoted a lot of attention to the carnival games.

I gave her some spending money when we arrived at the fair. Once she started playing carnival games, she quickly spent it.

She kept thinking she'd win a big, stuffed animal. But in the end she won a small, stuffed animal.

She hung the monkey around her arm, displaying it for all to see.

Naturally, I was given custody of the monkey every time she boarded a ride. By the end of the day, I was quite attached to the little guy.

After all, it was my money that Bailey spent playing the dart game that won her the monkey.

It's amazing to me just how much money parents can spend on the Midway. And that's just on the first day.

My advice is to visit the livestock barns as much as possible. It won't empty your pocketbook to view the mules. Unlike children, they generally keep their feet on the ground.

Mark Bliss is a staff writer at the Southeast Missourian.

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