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THE PUMPKIN TRAP

Cindy Maddera

The Cabbage decided that she wanted to carve a pumpkin. I though 'Great! I'll let her pick out a pumpkin at Aldi!" Aldi has the cheapest pumpkins. I got a perfectly round pumpkin for $3 a couple of weeks ago. Then there was talk of going to a pumpkin patch and Michael looked at me and said "Can we do that?" I shrugged and mumbled an 'okay' knowing that if we were actually going to go to a pumpkin patch, I would be the one doing the research into which one and where. This was more work than my previous plan of just picking a pumpkin from the bin at Aldi's. I thought maybe if I didn't mention it again the whole thing would be forgotten. I did spend a few spare moments looking at pumpkin patches in my area and it kind of reminded me of shopping for curtains. They both include spending a lot of money for not a lot of things. 

It seems that pumpkin patches have become this big thing. They all include a corn maze (at an extra cost), a hayride, some inflatable thing to jump on, and a trip out to a pumpkin patch where all of the pumpkins have been already harvested and placed neatly in rows. This is where you choose your pumpkin (which will cost you) and then end up lugging it around along with whatever the child you are with ends up picking up along the way like coloring sheets and balloon animals. All of this without the extra things like the maze and the pumpkin will cost you around $15 a person. We've gone to these things before and every year, I walk away feeling like I've been slammed by a truck. I understand the appeal. Really, I do. Fresh air and an illusion of being on a real life farm. For people who are from the city or the suburbs, this is the idyllic Fall adventure. It is an opportunity for their children to see the country, pet some goats and get lost in a corn maze. It is an opportunity to drag a professional photographer along with you to capture a beautiful family portrait. On paper it all sounds really lovely. All of those places have hot apple cider and some sort of apple pumpkin donut. The reality is that these places are over crowded, the weather is this weird blend of hot/cold and windy and there is no joy in lugging around the giant pumpkin your child picked out while they run screaming from some so-called farm attraction to another attraction. 

Lucky for me, Michael got some sort of food poisoning on Friday. No one mentioned pumpkin patches. I did want some mums for the front porch though, so I dragged the Cabbage out of bed to go get mums and a pumpkin for her to carve. Suburban Lawn and Garden was having their Fall fest which includes hayrides, face painting and popcorn. There's a silly witch that dances and makes balloon animals. And, the best part, it is all free. I still paid an exorbitant amount for a pumpkin, but my mums were cheap and the Cabbage had a good time. Afterward, the two of us had lunch at a nearby Mexican place where we played tic-tac-toe while we waited on our food. Then I made her work on a Christmas list while I finished my lunch. By the time we got home, Michael was almost back to normal and I had plenty of afternoon left to clean up the front porch and plant my mums, as well as clean out my closet. Pumpkins were carved before dinner and I declared the day a success. 

The Cabbage and I don't spend a whole lot of time alone together. The whole point is for her to spend time with her Dad, whom she only sees once a week for an evening and every other weekend. The theory is that the more time she spends with him, the less often she will call him DustinDaddy. Dustin is the ex's boyfriend. Nice enough guy, but you can probably see how all of that would set some teeth on edge. The Cabbage and I alone off on an activity together only happens when Michael is sick. Once, the two of us went to the zoo. Another time, I had to pick her up after school on a Friday. I took her to McDonald's. The pumpkin patch was the third time in the four years since I've known her that we've spent the day just the two of us. And I didn't leave her at the pumpkin patch. So..that's something. These excursions always includes some awkward moment from somebody assuming that I am the Cabbage's mother. This time it was the face painter. When the Cabbage told the girl her name, she turned to me and asked if I was a big fan of Ferris Bueller, assuming that I had named her after one of the characters. 

It's not that I want to be so insistent about NOT being the Cabbage's mother. It's just that I feel like maybe I should just wear a button that reads "Not the Mom!" just so that people don't get any ideas. And when I say 'ideas', I mean I don't want any one to think that I have any sort of parenting skills. I fed the child beans for lunch. Seriously. She ate a refried bean and cheese burrito with a side of refried beans for lunch and I did not recommend she add something green to that plate. We all suffered for it the next day when she continued to fart up the inside of the car on our way back from IKEA. The only thing I will take credit for is the totally awesome t-shirt she picked out to wear that day because I bought the shirt and stuck it in her dresser. She usually picks out a dress, but this time she pulled out that t-shirt that talks about Marie Curie on the back and has science stuff on the front. When people asked her about it, she would tell them "I like science and Cindy's a scientist."

So, yes. I will take credit for that.