Showing the kids a good time

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I took the whingeing, nagging little maggots to the show for the first time yesterday, because, quite frankly, kids these days aren’t spoilt enough. They don’t get enough sweets or junk food, never go anywhere except church and Nana’s, and certainly don’t have enough plastic crap that’s going to be trodden underfoot, eaten by the dog or sucked up the vacuum cleaner by this time tomorrow.

When they wised up to those big fat lies, I said that because so many people want to go, you’re only allowed to go once every 26 years, when the first initial of your surname comes up. (Mmm, what’s that smell? That’d be my pants on fire.) Seeing as the Crowleys went last year, it was D-Day. I had no choice but to brace myself, mortgage the house and pray I died in my sleep the night before.

Woke up. Still alive. Spewing.

”OK kids. One showbag, two rides and no ‘unhealthy food choices’, because they’re not a good way to love you. Fruit, water and sandwiches – and a packet of sultanas if you’re good.”

By 10.30am, we’d scoffed toffee apples, fairy floss and coloured popcorn, and we were on to the battered hot dogs on sticks. ”Mum, you’re awesome!” Some call it buying love, others call it quality time.

Parents these days are so uptight, with their organic carrot stick treats, bicycle transportation, bucket flushing and only carbon-neutral food, toys and experiences. But at the show, all bets are off.

”Chairoplane without a seatbelt? Sure! A bag of Mars Bars for lunch washed down with a can of Coke? No worries! Several non-biodegradable plastic bags full of stuff that could choke you, rot your teeth, encourage violence, reinforce outdated and unhealthy stereotypes, cause psychological damage and destroy the environment due to obscene amounts of lead, all made by three-year-olds in sweatshops and transported with non-renewable fossil fuels? Absolutely!”

As much as my kids are crazy for agriculture and livestock (yeah, right) they have an acute leaning towards the stuff that costs money, is made in Third World countries by slave labour, is chockablock full of artificial colourings and sugar, or is something you can’t experience unless you are more than 130 centimetres tall, not pregnant and haven’t had surgery in the past 12 months.

To the question, ”What do you think of the pigs?”, the little one replied: ”They totally sucked.”

There’s always a sense at the show of the country folk showing the townies how it’s done. Which is lost on my kids.
”Woodchopping? Why don’t they just buy it cut?” ”Whip-cracking? What’s the big deal? What else do whips do?” ”Birthing lambs? So what? We can develop our own species from a microscopic organism and develop it through to a creature capable of interstellar exploration as a spacefaring culture on a computer game.” ”You can ride a horse? Big fizz, I can invent one and cross-breed it with a stegosaurus.”

In an attempt to remedy their underwhelmedness with all things rural, I tried to interest them in the animals, but they just kept laughing at the words ”bitch”, ”cock” and ”gobbler”.

Plenty of things have changed. The quality of carnies has improved (several of them had all their teeth and at least one didn’t smell of groin and cigarettes) and sushi and espresso coffee are readily available. But, in fear of encroaching on Kyle Sandilands’ world of offence, what’s with the 12-digit numbers written on every kid’s arm? ”That’s the parents’ mobile phone numbers, Mum,” explained the six-year-old.

Some things do stay the same. The only things that smell worse than the animal pavilions are the portable loos. The guy who rides on the back of the Dodgems still looks like he has the coolest job at the show. And the Country Women’s Association pavilion is always worth a visit – not only for the scones but to buy a copy of their cookbook, featuring dishes such as Refrigerator Biscuits and Cherry Ripe Wreath, a festive dish that involves a ring tin, six chocolate bars and cream tinted with green food colouring.

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