Life with a smile: Five things that will definitely happen at an outdoor event with kids

By Kate Snyder

Contributing writer 

I spent about 16 hours at the Great American Brass Band Festival last weekend. About half that time I was with my kids – watching the parade, doing the kids art fair, exploring the instrument petting zoo and listening to music on the lawn. After participating in any number of these types of fun outdoor summer events with my kids, I’ve started to notice a few trends so prevalent that at this point I’m willing to call them facts.

Fact 1: Someone will have to pee.

It never fails. No matter how many times I plead with my children to use the facilities before we venture forth, one (or more) of my offspring will have to pee while we’re at an outdoor event. This naturally leads to the time-honored tradition of visiting the Porta Potties.

The line of people waiting for their turn. The puzzled questions from the 4-year-old about which ones are for boys and which are for girls. The abject horror on her face when you step inside the sweltering closet of ick. The passionate pronouncement that not only does she no longer have to pee at that exact moment, she may actually never pee again as long as she lives. The hasty departure. Yes, folks, this is the stuff of childhood memories.

Fact 2: There will be ice cream. Messes will ensue.

Italian ice. Chocolate gelato. Snow cones. Pick one — or, in our case, consume all three at various points during the weekend. Now me, I’ll go for the funnel cake nine times out of 10, but my kids really like frozen treats. Given that it was 85 degrees out, I insisted on cups over cones but they still managed to make a truly impressive mess.

My older daughter’s red Italian ice made her look like some kind of adorable creepy vampire with red smears across her mouth and red-stained teeth. My son managed to spill the same snow cone not once but twice. And my beloved third child dropped a hefty chunk of chocolate ice cream onto her flip flops. Her solution to the problem of sticky toes was to suck on them while my attention was diverted in a frantic hunt for baby wipes.

Fact 3: Squealing and hugging are inevitable.

One of the things I love most about kids is the unabashed joy they derive from seeing someone they love. School has been out for two weeks, which is basically an eternity in kid-time, so encounters with their friends were cause for massive celebration. Hugs were given, secret handshakes exchanged and loud squeals reverberated off the nearby buildings. My son in particular is a very enthusiastic hugger. I saw more than one pint-sized acquaintance visibly brace themselves for his freight-train hug. Clearly they have experienced his affection before.

When we saw those very same friends the next day, the excitement was no less intense.

Fact 4: Someone will get bored.

This boggles my mind, yet it is as a certainty as gravity. No matter how fun the festivities, how great the music or how varied the activities, someone under the age of 10 will announce they are bored at some point during the proceedings. When this happens, resist the urge to strangle the child in question, and simply feed them more ice cream. The resulting sugar high will prompt them to join in a game of beach ball soccer or to improvise a complicated dance routine using the ribbon sticks you tucked in the bag for just such an occasion. Problem (temporarily) solved.

Fact 5: You won’t regret it for a moment.

An outdoor summer festival in a small town is one of the best things in the world. A beautiful day in a beautiful place surrounded by people you know and love truly is the stuff of dreams. So even though navigating an outdoor event with small kids isn’t always easy, you won’t regret it for a moment — even when one of your children insists on eating the snow cone that fell on the ground.