Today an outing with John's cousin Brian and his two boys, Jacob and Brayden (ages 6 and 4) to the kids' favorite little amusement park which is having fall/halloween themed weekends this month. First thing this morning when we all found each other all the kids hugged and held hands like they hadn't seen each other in years, and they even (mostly) willingly posed for a group photo. Only one (intentionally) goofy face in the crowd. I'll take it.
The we entered the park and Jake and Erin, the ultimate amusement park veterans and leaders, started planning where we should go and what would be ridden in what order. Usually they paired up on the rides too. Meanwhile Brayden helped corral the twins quite a bit, shared snacks with them, and held their hands sometimes.
Once and a while the smaller cousins would override Jake's plans and make a run for, say, the the irresistible merry-go-round, which was way too uncool and unchallenging an experience for the big first grader, so he sometimes sat out these indiscretions.
Jake persuaded Erin to try a new roller coaster, one that she was just tall enough to ride, and she said it was fun but I could tell it scared her a little and when Jake immediately went on for a second ride she didn't go. But there is another, larger, faster, longer coaster on the other side of the park that she's ridden on several times and when we got over there she tried to persuade Jake to try it but he backed out and she rode it with me. There's no telling what scares her these days.
Not long ago at all she was always afraid to go into the tall rocky maze in the park, which this month they had all decorated for halloween and for once actually looked like something worthy of being scared of. There were cobwebs and skeletons and spiders everywhere and they were playing really loud, spooky, creaking, screaming, roaring animals, etc. sound effects. Yet when Jake headed into it she went right in with him, and I decided I'd follow along and get some of their reactions on video. And just when I thought she might be getting a little scared of all of this, she turned to me and gave me a smile:
Erin and Jake in the little kids' maze of hay bales:
Kate should do milk commercials:
In the carnival games area Jake wanted to try breaking plates with baseballs. He hit one plate, on this third (last) ball. Erin studied this carefully and when his game was over and we were walking away Erin was slightly ticked off that she didn't get a turn too. I should have asked. I just never noticed her having much interest in throwing or catching a ball so far. So Erin stepped up and with every one of her three balls she hit a plate and was awarded a large prize to Jake's small consolation prize. She threw those balls so quickly and I was so surprised by her performance that I forgot to take a picture of her. We might be looking into little league next spring.
And at the end of the day, with five tired kids with visibly tired faces, I brilliantly decided to try another group photo at the pumpkin display and sale, but only eternally-sweet Brayden would actually sit still and give me his attention. What a cutie.