I Wanted to Feed the Goats.

Dylan had a blast being a scarer at Field of Screams. His family, however, stayed home.

Week after week after week, Dylan would disappear at 4:00 on a Friday afternoon, stay out until after midnight, then sleep until noon. The next day, he’d spend three hours knocking around the house, then go out and do it all again.

Our tradition of Friday Family Movie Night – which we originally tried to squeeze in on weeknights – was postponed indefinitely. Daytime activities were shot. The entire season of fall festivals, which had been our favorite family activity for years, was simply ignored. We didn’t even get a pumpkin, let alone carve one. We didn’t even decorate our yard with the two tons of Halloween crap we have.

When trick or treating became imminent, Shane said, “Mom, I don’t even feel like it’s Halloween. We didn’t go to any farms or do anything to get ready for it.”

Our plan was to have one huge hurrah after Halloween, during Cox Farms‘ Pumpkin Smashing Weekend. It’s an event filled with world-famous hayrides, giant slides, rope swings into hay pits, baby animals, goat feedings, games, apples, and an animated corn maze called the Cornundrum. And during their final weekend of the year, they catapult pumpkins across a lake and drop 300-pound pumpkins with assistance from a DJ and a giant crane.

Cox Farms really knows how to host a party.

Shane and I were nearly bursting with excitement. I sent him little notes in his lunchbox every day of the week, pictures from the farm, reminding him that it was only a few days away.

He had waited so, so, so long.

So when Field of Screams was finally over, and we could spend a full day at the festivities, we headed out. Just in case, at the last minute, I tossed our raincoats in the car.

After 45 minutes of driving, it started to rain. By the time we got to the farm, it was pouring.

But we only had one day to enjoy fall – and this was it. We paid and went inside, heading straight for the world-famous hayride. There were no actors on the trail, as there usually are, but the driver made it fun regardless. We had an entire hayride to ourselves, and Dylan sprawled in the center of the wet hay. We went through a tunnel – dry for a minute! – then back out.

Then we ran over to the new attraction: a forest filled with goodies around every corner. It was awesome! We all agreed that the new attraction was one of the best they’d ever had.

When we came out of the forest, we headed for the games station – but it was closed. In fact, everything was closed. They wouldn’t even let us into the Cornundrum. They shooed us out of the park and told us to come back next year.

I almost cried. Shane’s face was heartbreaking.

“I wanted to feed the goats,” he whispered.

And that’s when I realized that it was not Dylan, and not the weather, that caused this minor tragedy. It was my failure as a parent.

Next year, Shane and I will go to Cox Farms – twice – whether Dylan is available or not.


  1. Lorrie says:

    It doesn’t always have to be the whole family. Family time is any time you spend together no matter who is there or not. I spend a lot of family time with Joy these days as Mario has a girlfriend now!

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