Expectations Vs. Reality: Pumpkin Picking With Young Kids

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pumpkin cryingMany expectant moms daydream of all the annual traditions they want to start with their kids. If you live in New England, land of colorful foliage, yearly trips to go pumpkin picking is high on the list of things that are awesome about Autumn. Take young kids to the pumpkin patch is certainly a memorable experience, but just not in the way you anticipated.

Expectation: You will finally mange to get a great family photo to hang over the mantle.

Reality: You take countless pics of your partner and the kids using your phone, because of course you forgot the camera at home. It doesn’t matter, because every picture you manage to take includes someone blinking, crying or running out of the frame. You also forgot to factor in that whole person-taking-the-photo-doesn’t-get-to-be-in-the-picture issue. In the pictures you are in, your hair is all over the place and it’s practically R-rated because you are leaning over to grab a kid before they jump off a hay bale and break their neck. You tell yourself it’s probably for the best, because any picture you hang up they will just find a way to knock down anyway.

Expectation: The children will toddle through the field, while holding your hand, their little faces lit up with wonder and delight at seeing all the pumpkins. You and your partner will share a laugh when they try to pick up one that is larger than they are. The kids will listen calmly and rationally when you lead them over to the smaller gourds. You’ll leave with a medium sized pumpkin for the grownups to carve over a glass of wine and two mini pumpkins the children carry themselves with proud smiles.

Reality:  As soon as you unstrap him from his car seat, one kid takes off like a sprinter. The other takes two steps then squats down to sample various grass and leaves. You and your partner play rock, paper, scissor to determine who gets to work up a sweat and who gets to stand around saying “No, yucky!” So much for meaningful conversation. The kids love the pumpkins, that much is true. They also drop them, fall on them and cause a path of destruction that ends only when you grab the first pumpkin you see which looks round-ish. Unable to let your fantasy die, you also snag a couple tiny pumpkins, and then you curse yourself as you try to juggle a wiggling child and slippery gourds to the cashier stand without dropping anything.

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  1. Valerie

    September 20, 2014 at 8:27 am

    This is awesome. And if you add bees swarming around making me run around like an asshole you’ve basically summed up my family’s trip to the pumpkin farm!

    • Megan

      September 20, 2014 at 8:29 am

      Bees= Every man for himself.

    • Valerie

      September 21, 2014 at 8:48 am

      Kill them with fire.

    • LBighted77

      September 20, 2014 at 9:05 am

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    • Spongeworthy

      September 20, 2014 at 9:41 am

    • WhoremonalCrazyLotusSlugalo

      September 20, 2014 at 11:46 am

      It is amazing to me how often this gif is EXACTLY the right thing for the moment. I love this!

    • Spongeworthy

      September 20, 2014 at 1:15 pm

      I know, right? Oprah is just good at everything!

    • WhoremonalCrazyLotusSlugalo

      September 20, 2014 at 1:17 pm

      I especially like the frantic freak out gif. I feel like that all the time.

  2. LadyClodia the Modest Rat

    September 20, 2014 at 8:52 am

    We have not attempted visiting a pumpkin patch yet, but we’ve had similar experiences going to a Christmas tree farm to cut our own tree. I haven’t decided what our pumpkin situation will be this year.

  3. Elizabeth Wakefield

    September 20, 2014 at 9:27 am

    I think I would like the pumpkin patch a whole lot more if it was actually chilly fall weather when we went. Going to the pumpkin patch when it is 80+ degrees outside ruins the moment.

    • Andrea

      September 20, 2014 at 10:22 am

      I hear ya. I live in the South and as much as I ADORE fall and the fall related things, it doesn’t get fall-like until November. By then, it is all over and they start putting up the Xmas shit. Ugh.

    • 2Well

      September 20, 2014 at 2:21 pm

      Yep, fall lasts for maybe two weeks and then winter starts.

    • StoonGirl

      September 20, 2014 at 10:34 am

      Ha, same issue here, but other end of the spectrum! This far north we have to deal with frost in September (luckily only one night so far this year) and in October sometimes snow…. oh to live in New England or where ever it was where they made up those arbitrary “seasons”, to have a fall that lasts more than a few weekes!!! (Canadian girl problems)

  4. LK

    September 20, 2014 at 9:34 am

    I’m going to file this away to alleviate the guilt when I invariably cut our pumpkin patch trip crazy short or (more likely) purposely put it off until we have no choice but to buy the overpriced pumpkin in front of the grocery store.

  5. Spongeworthy

    September 20, 2014 at 9:39 am

    Haha, we were just talking last night about going pumpkin/apple picking next weekend. I’m going to start preparing mentally now. Somehow our trips never end up looking like they do in the LL Bean catalog.

    • sudden_valley

      September 20, 2014 at 12:29 pm

      Our little girls are only a month old, so I’m really looking forward to taking them to the pumpkin patch this year! They will sleep, and we will get good photos. I’m already dreading next year though…

    • Spongeworthy

      September 20, 2014 at 1:14 pm

      Haha, I think “not mobile” is the best age to do a lot of things with kids.

  6. Kate

    September 20, 2014 at 9:51 am

    OMG this was us last weekend. I had the cranky 5 month old in the carrier the entire time, except when he was pooping all over his clothes and nursing distractedly, causing me to spray milk all over the picnic table where I was trying to discreetly feed him. Meanwhile, hubby had the 2.5 year old AND 4.5 year old. Little one wanted to feed the goats and be pushed on the swings. Big one wanted to climb and pick pumpkins. Awesome. 2 different directions. One Dada. Then we played the cranky/overdue nap/backseat donut flinging game on the way home. Utterly exhausting! More hope for next year! (Except, just as you noted….we have been doing this for 5 years now and EVERY year we say “It will be better next year!”) 🙂

  7. NotTakenNotAvailable

    September 20, 2014 at 11:06 am

    I wonder how much dreams shape the desires and expectations of parents and people who want to be parents? My childfree self would probably envision the reality laid out here as the best-case scenario for a trip to a pumpkin patch with young children! Of course, the few times my ex and I discussed our nonexistent children, we concluded overall that since we’re atheists, he was a women’s studies minor, and I fit no one’s definition of a girly girl, we’d wind up with a daughter who’d be into nothing but shopping, makeup, boys, and the Fundamentalist youth group, so I clearly have too cynical a view of the big picture to have warm, fuzzy images of the individual moments.

  8. CynicalMomof3

    September 20, 2014 at 11:14 am

    Ours is OK, though it doesn’t have the requisite measuring stick thing to take their pics next to, corn bath, bouncy house, and other things now “required” in pumpkin patches, as we get more and more competitive as to who can give their children the perfect childhood, which is not possible without a corn maze (no crying involved in those, I’m sure. We don’t have one of them, either).

    The article forgets to mention that the pumpkin that would cost $4 at the grocery store costs $25 at the patch, and each child needs to have one like that, and starts whining and crying when told they only get tiny pumpkins. And the pony rides are $10 for 1 minute, and each child wants that, as well. The tractor ride is only $5, $10 for parents, but you realise that your family of 5 is going to pay $150 for half an hour of photo opportunities and $15 worth of pumpkins, as well as all the joys mentioned in the articles, with the end result that each child is still upset, because their ride was shorter or they wanted that pumpkin but didn’t get it, and….

    you still share your photos on facebook, because all children are beautiful, wherever pumpkins are, especially if there is a breeze for their hair to blow in or some bright blue October sky. And then, all your friends see their obligation, and off they go to their local patches…

    The clincher for us is that, even though our local pumpkin patch does actually plant pumpkins (we’ve seen them), at the end of the day, we’ve spotted boxes where they ship most of their pumpkins in from another state.

    • AP

      September 20, 2014 at 9:54 pm

      My local “pumpkin patches” spread pumpkins out on the dirt shoulder between a six-lane commercial thoroughfare and the Caltrain tracks, with close to no parking. After Halloween, they turn into “Christmas tree farms.” Requisite bounce houses included.

      Home Depot is more festive.

  9. Cindy Ailey

    September 20, 2014 at 11:37 am

    We’re going to the pumpkin patch next weekend while my mom comes to visit. I’ll try to keep my expectations low.

    • Megan

      September 20, 2014 at 12:44 pm

      My kids get a serious case of Angel Baby when Grandma is around, so maybe you will have a perfect day and we can all live vicariously through you!

    • koolchicken

      September 21, 2014 at 3:06 am

      Wait, you have a Novelty Nana? Those are like gold. Set your expectations sky high and sit back and enjoy your perfect day. Worst case your kids behave like heathens and you can just slink away while she watches them (insert evil laughter).

  10. jendra_berri

    September 20, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    I’m planning to do this in October. Because I have all those expectations and if it blows up in my face, if I can get just one good snap shot then I can pretend like I gave my son a magical childhood.

  11. JJ

    September 20, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    Do not take children that are young to a place like this that also has a corn maze! I went with friends and their kids who were little. Oh my god heart attack central. This corn maze was huge and we were there in daylight when you could see well and they, like little kids, liked to run away and not listen. And then you almost lose them many times in this massive corn maze while they laugh ahead of you because they think its hilarious to not listen and get lost. Meanwhile your out of breath trying to keep them in sight and your just thinking, nooo please don’t go there no don’t turn that corner I don’t where it goes. Note to self if I have little ones: Leash them with children’s leashes if they want to walk a corn maze. I don’t care if people judge or think they look like dogs at least I won’t be having a heart attack.

    • chill

      September 22, 2014 at 4:22 am

      And then when they do get lost and they’re a couple of rows over, that’s when they realize you’re not next to them so they start crying and you start panicking because you just know someone is abducting your child.
      Or you are in the middle of the maze with no end in sight, when one of them says “I hafta go to the bafroom. Now!” and they all agree with her. And letting them pee in the corn stalks just gets you nasty looks from everyone. Ahh, good times.

  12. Allthingsblue

    September 21, 2014 at 12:08 am

    And all the rotting pumpkins…

  13. koolchicken

    September 21, 2014 at 3:01 am

    Not trying to be a pain in the neck here. But some of us do manage to have a “magical” time doing these activities. I’ve found the best way to achieve that is to have one child who always behaves and has a very pleasant demeanor. It also helps if they love posing for photographs.

    I tell you, it’s posts like this that make me feel better about only getting to have the one. I’m a first born and I STILL remember when my sister was born. She was a total jerk, up at 6am every day and didn’t ever want to do anything fun. No way am I bringing another spoil sport into the world. It took her 20+ years to get fun.

  14. aCongaLine

    September 22, 2014 at 10:26 am

    ah, yep.

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