Sunday, September 8, 2013

Maybe an empty nest won't be so bad

It was something my wife and I had not experienced in a long time.
For the first time in 20 years we went to the IPE without children.
The IPE, (the Interior Provincial Exhibition, which technically is the official name,) is also known as the Armstrong Fair.
The fair has been held for more than 100 years and has become a family tradition for many. As usual, my family went to the fair, but this year we didn't all do it at the same time.
The Missus and I took in the fair on opening day, with the young 'uns heading out on the weekend, when all the action is.
The thing I noticed about the drive to the fairgrounds this year was how quiet it was. Nothing but the sound of the road and the wind whistling past, giving the Missus and myself a chance to partake in some adult banter.
The next thing I noticed was how light we could travel. All we had to carry was our jackets in case the earlier rain storm returned.
When the kids were younger, we ventured out with a stroller loaded down like a chuckwagon with diapers, food, extra clothes, juice, water, Cheerios (of course) and a variety of other implements of parenting needed for a day trip with children.
And if you buy anything at the fair then you have to lug that around as well, because despite promises of “Please can I get one? I'll  carry it,” they don't carry it, and the pack mule (aka dad) ends up having another item tied to his back.
No wonder I was always so tired at the end of the day.
The older the kids got, the less stuff I had to carry, but there was still five of us so travelling light was nearly impossible.
And unlike previous trips to the fair, we wandered through the midway without really stopping.
With kids in tow, it was always a debate as to what rides they would go on and 'Can I ride with my friend' and 'I don't want to go on that one' etc.
Age differences usually meant the kids wanted to go on different rides (and I wanted to sneak off to the closest neighbourhood pub.)
But as we strolled through the midway this time, there was no drama, no discussions and no debates. There was just the chatter of the people around us and the non-stop barking of the carnival workers as they try to entice you to 'win' a prize at their booth. Where else could you spend $10 to 'win' a $2 prize?
Going to the IPE sans kids was also more of a leisurely stroll from exhibit to exhibit than the typical race to get through the numerous displays as the next generation's short attention span demanded new input every five seconds. 
I guess at some point in my tale I should start to lament about how much I missed my children, and 'Oooooh how I wish they were little again' and drift back the good ol' days and all the fun we used to have.
This is one of the first tastes of empty nest the Missus and I have experienced in two decades and I have to admit, so far, it is not that bad. 
Let's review: no drama, no need to buy snacks every five minutes so they can make it through to the big feed at dinner time, no big feed at dinner time, no spending half our time in the midway listening to the chaos that is a midway and no rushing through the 'boring' exhibits us older folk enjoy.
I know eventually I will yearn for the days of children buzzing around us and I may even miss the chaos of going to the fair with a load of children in tow, but for now I just enjoyed spending a day at the fair with my bride, just the two of us, like it was oh so long ago.

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