It sounded like a great idea, picking out pumpkins. It was a beautiful early fall day, which in the south means its still shorts weather. Sure we could have gotten them at the grocery store. In fact the ones at the grocery store looked pretty good to me; you know, round, orange, like pumpkins are supposed to look. But I held back. I wanted the pumpkin picking experience to be a parenting moment.
So on Saturday morning we headed where else, the State Farmer's Market. After all, if you're going to buy produce why not get it from the source? Of course I get all my other produce at the grocery store, but somehow a pumpkin, like a Christmas tree, seems more real if it comes from a farmer.
As soon as we pulled into the parking lot I knew we had made a terrible mistake. The traffic was unbelievable. There were no parking spots. People were walking in front of cars at every turn. Literally every person in Raleigh must have decided at the same time that it was PUMPKIN PICKING DAY.
My gut told me to get out, turn that Volvo around and find the first exit. But I had already promised them we were going to do this. Anyone with kids knows that once you make a promise, you keep it. Otherwise they never trust you again and they whine about it for the next several hours.
I had a plan. I jumped the curb and pulled up on the grass, put my three-year-old in the stroller, and commanded my six-year-old to hold onto the side of the stroller. We navigated the crazy parking lot without getting hit and then entered the market filled wall-to-wall with bodies. I found a pumpkin stand and quickly told my older daughter to pick four, two big ones and two little ones. In the meantime the three-year-old was screaming because she wanted to run around. Not in this lifetime I told her. I hurriedly paid.
One part of the plan that I forgot to think through was how to get four pumpkins and two kids across a treacherous parking lot to my car. I ended up sticking two in the bottom of the stroller, one on the roof, that left one to carry. It was too heavy for my six-year-old, so we decided she would push the stroller and I would carry the other pumpkin. Well, what happens when you try to pop a wheelie with a stroller that is top-heavy (i.e. has a pumpkin on the top)? That's right it falls over.
When the three-year-old's head and the big pumpkin hit the sidewalk I knew that my parenting moment was not going to be today.
Luckily, she wasn't hurt. Amazingly, the pumpkin also survived without injury. I barely survived the trip back to the car and the subsequent twenty-minute wait to get out of the parking lot.
Maybe when we carve them, maybe that will be the parenting moment, maybe. One thing I've learned, don't count on it ...