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A SHELLEY TERRY column

Why does summer go by so fast and winter drags on and on? 

One of the highlights of my summer was taking my 4-year-old great niece to the Ashtabula County Fair.

As my faithful readers know, Delightful Granddaughter is a teenager now and wouldn’t be seen walking around the fair with her grandmother. So, I had to go to the next younger generation for a companion.

My great-niece can be described as precocious, so I will call her “PGN” for Precocious Great Niece. She’s quite a character and I enjoyed her company, but I was exhausted after only three hours.

It’s hard to believe I could go all day at the fair with my children, but that was 30-some years ago.

When we arrived, PGN greeted all of the gate workers with her first name and age.

Once inside the west gate, she spotted the pony rides — and she was off! She ran (and I walked).

She chose a brown and white pinto and sat up straight just like a cowgirl. When the ride was over, she announced more plans.

“I want to ride the carousel, then the roller coaster and the Ferris wheel!” she said.

She ran (and I walked) from ride to ride.

She wanted to ride the Tip Top, or what I called, “An older kid’s ride.”

“You are too young for that ride,” I said. 

She quickly did the math.

“I’m young, those kids are older and you’re just old. Right? Auntie Shelley?” she said so sweetly.

“Yes,” I said with a sigh.

The kiddy roller coaster proved to be the most fun for her. She put her arms in the air and screamed at every turn. Afterwards, she insisted on demonstrating her screams to me.

“I screamed like this,” she said, letting out a high pitched scream that could have cracked glass.

Around about this time, she saw a kid wearing a hat made out of balloons. She wanted one. Luckily, I knew the balloon-creations expert, Swifty the Clown, was under the grandstand.

We stood in line for about 15 minutes while PGN looked intently at Swifty. 

Then, out of the blue, she said, “Clowns are just men wearing makeup and funny clothes.”

She sounded disappointed.

When it was her turn, she asked Swifty for a hat with a horse on it. Swifty twisted and tied several balloons for PGN. When he was done, she said, “It looks kind of like a dog.”

Swifty wasn’t deterred.

A few more twists and turns, and voila’! There was a balloon hat with a balloon horse on top.

“That’s better,” she said. 

Then she complimented Swifty on his large, red shoes.

“They’re funny,” she said.

Next stop — the bathroom.

I went in fully prepared to help her when she put her little hand up in my face and said, “Privacy, please!”

I laughed and laughed.

I’m thinking, “This kid is hilarious.”

After the bathroom break, we decided to get a drink. Due to the high cost of refreshments, I suggested we share a lemonade. I picked out two straws — a yellow for me, an orange for her. 

PGN kept a close eye on the orange straw, making sure I didn’t use it. However, when she thought I wasn’t looking, she drank out of my yellow straw!

“Hey!” I said. 

She giggled.

Another round of rides and two Bounce houses and I was ready to go. Still full of energy, PGN wasn’t ready to go, so I did what any old great aunt would do — I bribed her.

“If we leave now, you can have a cupcake and watch cartoons at my house,” I said.

She looked thoughtful for a moment.

“At YOUR house?” she said.

“Yes,” I said.

“OK!” she said.

And, we were off.

STAFF WRITER SHELLEY TERRY is recovering from her fair adventures, thanks to fond memories of meeting faithful readers. She’ll see you next year, Lord willing and the creek don’t rise. (That’s an old person’s saying.)

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