I’d been hearing the rallying cry all day. “Pick punk-in! Piiiick punk-in!”
A certain little boy in our house was beyond himself with excitement. He was going to navigate the corn maze and eat popcorn and feed the goats and, of course, find the perfect pumpkin.
Because we were going to the pumpkin patch.
Visions of an idillic autumn day were dancing in my head. A montage of fallen leaves and babies laughing and my angelic preschooler skipping through the field, all set to U2’s Beautiful Day.
I should have known things were going south with we saw the trains. (Joseph loves trains. Loves them. No other child has gotten more excited when simply seeing train tracks. Tracks, you guys. Just tracks.)
Anyway, we bundled up the kids and bumbled out of the car, grabbing the over-stuffed diaper bag, throwing Asher in the Ergo, and slinging the camera bag over my shoulder.
Joseph took off, as per usual, to the main store-area of Pumpkinland. (Yeah, it’s really called Pumpkinland.) He pitched some mini pumpkins and a few gourds into the cart and was all, Let’s do this thang.
It was fun.
And then, the trains.
Oh, the trains.
There was a model train set all put together in a little see-through trailer, and at that moment, there was nothing else in the world that could take Joseph away. No more “pick punk-ins.” Just trains.
And, yeah. It was stinkin’ adorable. But after about 10 minutes of watching the same train loop in and out, with the chilly wind hitting our faces, it was time to gently nudge him to the other areas of the farm.
Gently nudging turned to suggesting turned to telling turned to picking the kid up and carrying him away.
But, the day could be saved. Because there was a CORN MAZE. A MAZE THAT YOU WALK THROUGH MADE OUT OF CORN.
And after that, we visited the animals. Joseph refused to look at the camera, but we rolled with it, thanking the good Lord above that he had forgotten about the trains.
And then, he saw it. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw it. The trains.
Joseph looked at me. I looked at Jonny. Jonny looked at Joseph.
Time. Stood. Still.
And then that little man bolted faster than my mom at Kohl’s on black Friday.
Trains! I breathlessly gasped as I attempted to chase after him.
So, we watched more trains. Parenting is picking your battles, right?
I plopped kid #2 in front of some pumpkins and tried to get him to smile. After 100 snaps of the shutter, this was the best shot we could muster.
After what seemed like eternity, it was time to leave the trains.
CUE MEGA MELTDOWN.
Kicks + screams + and nooooooo’s abounded. Everyone around was watching. Even Asher was watching.
My BP was rising.
I scooped up Asher and we left our cart of pumpkins and Jonny carried Joseph as he wiggled and writhed, sobbing and screaming for the trains.
Jonny and I got into the car and looked at each other.
Joseph sobbed in his carseat, now demanding a Reese’s.
This was not the day we had planned.
I was so frustrated. Any patience or kindness or self-control was quickly draining and I was close to morphing into Monster Mommy. In that moment, literally had to ask God for help. For grace. For love. For patience.
What should we do? Some parents would abruptly leave the pumpkin patch all together. Others would take matters into their own hands, literally, and enact some corporal punishment. Others might yell. Others might not do anything.
But what should we do?
I remembered The Connected Child + climbed into the backseat, giving Joseph a bear hug and whispering in his ear to remember to breathe. He started to calm down. I compromised and gave him a little piece of gum and a drink of water, and he forgot about the Reese’s. We reminded him about the pumpkins, and gave him the option: 1. We go back to the pumpkin patch and get a pumpkin. Or, 2. We go home.
But, THE TRAINS, Mommy! Nope, no more trains — it’s too cold and we already got to watch them two times.
So, our little man opted for picking a pumpkin. We went back to our cart and bought some tiny pumpkins for him to paint + play with. (We strategically didn’t happen upon the trains again.)
And we didn’t get a picture-perfect outing. But you know what? Living the Kingdom at home doesn’t mean everything is rainbows and flowers. Parenting is messy and nobody’s perfect and in those trying moments all we can do is lean into God and ask for His help. The little choices we make in those tough moments really matter — how we react show our kids more than words ever could. We can tell them to have patience for others, but if they don’t see us living it, than our words are just noise.
We all survived. And we came home and admired our pumpkins.
And then we went downstairs to play with trains.
[If you’d like to subscribe by e-mail, enter your e-mail address in the space in the sidebar!]