If you haven’t visited a pumpkin patch with a preschooler, is it really even fall yet? Magic Eight Ball says: “No.”
Dinah and I accompanied Alden and his preschool class to Linder Farms again this year. Somehow, this year seemed a bit more manageable. Perhaps because Dinah isn’t six months old and nursing every hour and I’m not in (as) desperate need of physical therapy anymore. Perhaps because Alden is a year older and (oh so very slightly) in better control of himself. Whatever the reason, it was a relatively relaxed, enjoyable field trip.
We started out with a bumpy hay ride through the corn fields, for which Alden sat us at the very front, directly behind the tractor pulling the hay wagon. He was endlessly thrilled by the loud roar of the engine, the inconceivably large tires, and just the “tractoriness” of it all. We moved on next to the petting zoo, where his little goat-loving heart beat with joy and he discovered the wonder of miniature yaks.
Next, the preschoolers got to each choose a pumpkin (which Linder Farms very nicely carts back to the entrance in a wheelbarrow for you) and then make their way through a small section of the corn maze. If you’ve never tried keeping eight preschoolers (and assorted younger siblings) together in a corn maze, well, it’s a bit like trying to keep cooked spaghetti from slipping through a fish net. You need about sixteen more hands.
Alden was very excited that he got to go on the slide next. It’s a large black pipe coming down from an enormous tower of hay bales that the kids have to scale to get to the top. Honestly, I have my doubts about the structural integrity of the whole thing, but I haven’t heard of any lawsuits yet so I’m letting it slide. (See what I did there? Badumtiss! Okay, I’ll see myself out). Dinah, who had grown increasingly frustrated with being confined to the Ergo because I canz walks now put me doowwwwnnn!!! was thrilled to be allowed to climb through a bunch of giant tractor tires near the base of the slide.
At one point, Alden came down the slide and I told him he could do it again. After a few minutes I started to wonder why I hadn’t seen him come down yet, so I started walking around the hay bale tower to spot where he was in line. The answer was: nowhere. Alden was decidedly not in the line at all. I worked on squashing my panic and thoughts of how many dozens of acres of corn maze he could be lost in as I started searching in widening circles, asking other parents I knew if they had seen him, and hollering out his name like a madwoman. Which is stupid, because he hardly ever will answer verbally to his name being called. I can think of a handful of times he has ever done so at home, and exactly zero times he has ever done so anywhere else. But I guess I was hoping if he heard me calling for him he might come to me, or at least stop moving farther away. On a hunch, I started circling the children’s hay maze, walking on tiptoe to see over the stacked bales (I’m short, okay?) and finally spotted him, walking in circles, looking for a way out, in the dead center of the maze. I let out the breath I had somehow been simultaneously holding while hollering his name, wound my way through to where he was and gently reminded him about always letting me know where he was going before running off. If I’m being honest, it was actually one of my finer parenting moments, if I do say so myself.
We joined up with Alden’s class for snack time and to collect his pumpkin, and then he got to roll around in a giant corn seed sensory bin for a bit before it was time to head home. If tradition holds, Alden will have another field trip there when he’s in first grade, which should also be when Dinah is three and in preschool and going for her first field trip there. So what I’m saying is, next year is my golden year where I hopefully don’t have to worry about losing any kids in a pumpkin patch.