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FORCED FAMILY FUN: OUR APPLE PICKING ADVENTURE!

It’s time for another installment of Good Enough Mother’s favorite feature… FORCED FAMILY FUN! You know how it works – Casey, Cole, Buff and myself all spend time together as a family – and often it all goes horribly wrong and everyone ends up in a huff with one another and in their separate corners! Remember our family movie night… exactly!

It’s time for another installment of Good Enough Mother’s favorite feature… FORCED FAMILY FUN! You know how it works – Casey, Cole, Buff and myself all spend time together as a family – and often it all goes horribly wrong and everyone ends up in a huff with one another and in their separate corners! Remember our family movie night… exactly!

So this latest episode involves that annual Fall rite of passage, apple picking. We’ve been doing this as a family ever since we moved to New York eight years ago when the kids were four and six. You, being the math wiz you are, have now deduced that eight plus four (and six) equals two insolent teenagers who would rather be with their friends or alone in their rooms (or so they say) then out with their folks. Let’s just say apple picking with the family ranks right up there with bamboo shoots under the fingernails, but did that attitude deter mommy? HELL TO THE NO! We were going and we WERE going to have fun!

We got the kids up early which explains the above photo and the lack of bickering / chatter in the car on the way to the orchard. In fact, the excitement didn’t come from the insolent teens as much as from Buff and me; maybe because it was the weekend, maybe because we know that, like the setting sun, these moments are fleeting. So on the nearly hour-long drive, we listened to bad music and told jokes that were even worse.

We got to the orchard and promptly overpaid for two plastic bags with which to hold our booty. Now you know if you walked into any grocery store in America and they told you a bag of apples was going to cost you 14 dollars, you would read them the riot act right before burning the place to the ground.  But because were paying for “the experience” and had driven too far to cop indignant attitude and turn on our heels and walk away, we sucked it up and shelled out 28 bucks.

There is something so wonderfully comforting about doing the same thing year after year. The kids expect it and honestly we do too. And it’s those touchstones that run deep through our family, keeping us connected on a primal, unspoken level. Even with the kids acting like they would rather be anywhere but with the fuddy, duddy parents, I know better.

Bags in hand, the nice workers pointed us in the direction of the Fuji apples and Buff went wild. Literally. No you don’t understand. He headed north chanting in a zombie-like state “Fujis. Fujis, Fujis.” That was the first time in nearly 17 years I had serious doubts about the man I married. Those doubts notwithstanding, we plucked, picked, posed for pictures in the orchard and accompanying vineyard and generally spent time together as a family… Ah, bliss… but not for long though!

Finally we made the sojourn back to the car to drop off the bag o’apples and you know those suckers were heavy. Heck for 14 dollars we tried to shove two tons in each bag! So Buff doing his best impersonation of a pack mule, slowly trudged back to the car. When we dropped the apples off and headed back into the orchard for lunch, well, let’s just say, that’s when the wheels came completely off the Syler express.

Okay I hate it when the kids throw stuff at each other but every so often they get really wild and toss something at one of us. In this case, Buff had asked for his bottle of orange juice. Casey grabbed it and softball tossed it to her father. BIG MISTAKE. Trying to head off trouble and knowing how much he hates that (me too) I took the time to sternly warn her and her brother (who’d earlier been caught catapulting apples at us in the orchard) that throwing stuff was not cool.

Apparently my stern warning was not enough for Buff who, wielding the bottle like a miniature bat, swatted Casey on the butt with it.  And not gently either.  Be it the surprise of the swat or the velocity, Casey clutched her backside and burst into tears. I could not believe it! I started yelling at Buff because I truly believe that spanking is one of those tools used in extreme circumstances or when a child is in imminent danger. That was definitely not the case here. I was pissed, Casey was smarting and hard feelings and tears threatened to derail the entire family outing.

I honestly don’t know how but everyone was able to move on. Maybe it was because we had still to buy the apple-cinnamon donuts or the butter laden apple pie, or the hot apple cider, or still hadn’t had a chance to get lost in the corn maze, which is all part of the tradition. But somehow team Syler kept it together!

Truth be told, we cut the festivities short this year, I had to travel later in the day and the kids, well, they had had about enough. So 13-pound apple pie in hand (I said it was laden with butter) we headed to the car for the short drive home.  And while they would never admit it, because it’s much cooler to be aloof and insolent, the teens had a good time. I could tell by the way Casey slipped her hand in mine while trudging through the fallen apples and deer dung and the way Cole delighted in dragging his feet across the gravel in an effort to make as much noise as humanly possible. I know in my heart it’s times like these they will remember. Me too. I’m going to need them as sadly, time is running out.

Do you have a family tradition, something you do year after year that your kids either look forward to or act like they hate – but you know better? Please share you stories… I’d love to hear them!

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