When Pamma was here, she was just the best sport about happily going along with whatever ridiculous adventure we could cook up for her. And the most ridiculous, as always, was Children's Fairyland. Located within a fenced enclosure adjacent to Lake Merritt, Children's Fairyland is more than just borderline creepy. But small to mid-sized children really get a kick out of it. Because they have no idea that a) fairy tales are the creepiest! and b) Coney Island is the creepiest! and c) combining the two is just the absolute most bonkers extreme of creepy family entertainment.
It's difficult to even describe what it is... I will go with: a sprawling series of interactive displays inspired by children's fiction, none of which are aging gracefully, and some of which smell of mold. So, it's clearly fun for the whole family.
It's way too big for us to cover all the terrain in one visit, so almost everything we saw this time was new to us. Grady the Gus enjoyed the moldering Alice in Wonderland slide/tunnel/maze complex:
Unprompted, he went around hugging Snow White and the seven dwarves, who stood stock-still in a small fenced courtyard outside their locked cottage. That wasn't cute or anything.
And then. We happened upon a carousel for toddlers. We've never even suggested to Baby Grady that he should ride a carousel, because, well, we know him and they are so very, very clearly not his jam. This one, however, seemed like it might be okay. It was tiny, and open-air, and moved very, very slowly. It was kind of no big deal, really. Grady was clearly interested, but we just sort of hung out, no pressure, let's see where this goes. He observed it for several cycles. Then he decided that he wanted to ride the walrus. Then he panicked and wept and had to be removed right before the ride started. We walked away, but then he wanted to go back. He watched some more. Finally, he decided to try again. This time, he selected a sturdy, chair-like spot, in the arms of a weeping turtle-pig. (I don't have any idea, you guys.) And he nervously made it through the entire ride. He managed a slight smile and even some waves, but for the most part, he was clearly concentrating on not losing his baby ish all over that faded, weird miniature carnie ride. It was such a challenge for him, and the desire to tackle it was all his. So incredible to watch from such a little guy.
For the past week or so, we've been lucky to have Grady's grandma (aka "Pama") here for a visit. She came to rescue us all from the two-week summer vacation that daycare takes every August. Two weeks! What gluttony! Or rather sloth! And it feels as though they just took spring break!
Well, the inconvenience caused by our lack of childcare turned out to be a marvelous thing, because Grady and his Pama got tons of time to run around wearing each other out, while Jasper and I went off to work. They read books and played in the pool and went to the park and did puzzles and ate ice cream and blew bubbles and climbed stairs and just generally did all the things that need doing in a day. They both went down so easily each evening!
As weekend approached, it occurred to me that now I had even more family to rope into my forced family funtime adventure plans. So plan I did. Except I really didn't and this was sort of a last minute thing. But it came together just as well. We've been discussing recently that Grady would likely be ready for another trip to the farm, with actual feeding of animals this time. He is already a semi-pro goat groomer at the zoo (professional designation withheld, because he sometimes forgets that you shouldn't touch their heads). So, we headed off to Little Farm, with our sack of (organic) romaine hearts.
An aside: Jasper teased me for getting organic. And I almost didn't. But here's the thing! Pesticides are so harmful to farmworkers and their families, so even if I am not going to eat the lettuce, I could not in good conscience poison farmworker children when the option not to was RIGHT THERE. And also! Once I got to thinking, I felt bad that I wouldn't be more careful about the food I was giving to a goat. He probably doesn't want to be poisoned by pesticides either. Jasper pointed out that the goat would happily eat a vacuum cleaner. And he's right. But still! Farmworker children. I win.
So. Grady fed the animals. No big deal.
He says "geese" now. And also "doats." And also roughly every word he hears. While at the farm, he perfected "chicken poop," as you do.
Rambling up the hill with Pama was entertaining, because life! What a trip!
Possibly hard to tell from just the muzzle, but this is a sheep.
And then the cow. You may recall that on our last visit to the Little Farm, Grady felt certain he did not care for the cow one bit. This time, we tried to feed the cow when we arrived, but his mouth was so big and his teeth and his gigantic tongue lashing out all unpredictable and well... we just weren't up to it. But that Grady of mine was not one to back down from the challenge. He warmed up with the water fowl, polished his form with the goats, and then. He fed that cow. Like a boss. See that lettuce snack that cow is enjoying? That right there was delivered to that monstrous bovine mouth by one not-so-Baby Grady.