Last Saturday was one of those picture perfect autumn afternoons that is wonderfully unique to New England.
The weather was cool and crisp, requiring a sweater in the morning and short-sleeves during the day. Summer hasn’t quite left your system but you can feel the fall wind prickling your senses as winter looms just out of sight. The leaves on the trees suddenly turn to fire and bright yellow. Then the dried leaves fall to the ground where the autumn breeze scrapes them along the roads and sidewalks.
For approximately 4-5 weekends in September and October — after the leaves turn color but before the Halloween parties commence — all of New England turns out for an annual event that is a prerequisite for anyone living in the area. Apple picking.
So what does apple picking have to do with raising an animal, television, and my parental humiliation?
Tougas Farm in Northboro, Mass. is a pretty spectacular place. In addition to hundreds of acres of delicious apples, it’s also got a bakery filled with the most delicious cold apple cider, hot apple cider, and apple cider donuts you’ve ever tasted. And it’s a paradise for kids since it has a petting zoo and a humongous playground.
The most popular part of the playground is simply a huge rock. It’s a magnet for kids looking to climb all over it and claw their way to the top in order to become King/Queen of the Apple Orchard. Will climbed that rock — all the way to the top. And that’s when I realized I’m raising an animal.
Rewind for a second.
Finding something age-appropriate and at least semi educational on TV for your 5-year-old is kind of like attempting to spot a leprechaun riding a unicorn.
We could nix the TV altogether to solve the problem. Cut out the idiot box from our lives completely and become one of those families that does puzzles for fun. The only issue with that idea is I’m not too keen about raising annoying hippie children who sport totally blank expressions whenever something culturally relevant is mentioned concerning something on the boob tube, because their “special treat” is an hour a week of PBS.
But I digress.
I looked up at Will on top of the rock. He looked pleased that he made the climb, but I noticed he was glaring at some of the other kids. Before I could ask what was wrong, it was already happening.
He began beating his chest ferociously, pounding it with both fists. But that wasn’t the worst part. In between thumping his chest and glaring at the other kids, he began making this ungodly noise. I can’t describe it, but it was a combination of a rooster, monkey, and a screech owl. Other parents and kids stopped what they were doing to look up at the madman on top of the rock, making a loud and repeating “Hoo-HOOOOO!!” noise at the top of his lungs.
I got him down off the rock as calmly as I could manage, but I immediately pulled him aside and asked him what the hell he thought he was doing beating his chest and grunting at other children for no particular reason.
He raised a confused eyebrow and looked at me like I was the one being a nutcase. Then he stared at me with a matter of fact expression and delivered his explanation.
“Dad, I was being like a gorilla and asserting my dominance.”
Maybe I’ll throw that TV out the window after all.