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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

folk festival

Somehow it is that time of year again. Time for the Bangor Waterfront Folk Festival that is such fun and sadly marks the end of summer.   We've gone each of the eleven years and our kids love it as much as we do.

Miraculously, bribery had unprecedented success this weekend when I told the girls if they wanted to stay out late they needed to sleep before we went. The festival starts Friday evening around 7 (their bedtime) so it was imperative to have well-rested children if they were to last the whole weekend.  To my utter shock, they BOTH took naps.  This NEVER happens.  EVER. 

They stayed up till way after dark, listening to the beautiful Gaelic melodies under a starry sky.  Asleep just before 10, I was frightened for the next day which starts at noon and goes till late. I once again told them they needed to nap and THEY DID. 

Maya did some crazy, CRAZY dancing the first night at one of the more lively stages. I got it on video but for the life of me I cannot figure out how to get it here. She was a ton of fun at the "folk festible" as both the girls call it but the stimulation of 120,000 people also amped her up a bit and by the second day she was kinda, sorta out of control and she tested each limit until Sandi had to take her home. Ella and I stayed with my mom and I wondered how to give a child a consequence that isn't also a punishment for the parents.

One of the staffers had this awesome t-shirt on.  I think I need this tattooed to my forehead.

We always hang out with Ange, Matt and the kids and the adults actually listen to the music while the kids have a dancing free for all.  This year, they had to go to Cape Cod for the entire weekend and miss the whole thing.  And, boy, didn't we miss them. 


We ran into our friends the Parkers and the festival photographer took our picture!
If you "kick" in a donation at the festival you get a sticker, a different color for each day. There are giant donation buckets at the entrance to give people such an opportunity. The festival is technically free but organizers have been very clear with festival attendees that if donations don't increase, admission will have to be charged. They have the "bucket brigade" circulating- volunteers holding buckets to collect money- all around the festival.
My mom volunteers every year at the festival and this year she had a shift as part of the bucket brigade. Ella and I helped her out.  We were happy to find so many individuals sporting stickers but it was kind of shocking the response some non-sticker wearing people who were enjoying the festivities would give when asked.

First let me explain my approach. In order to maximize on the traffic in our small city for this major event, some sponsors/businesses have offered incentives for donating. For instance, Governor's Restaurant, a home cooking sort of place that serves desserts as big as my head, offers free pie (with purchase of food) to anyone who has a sticker.

So there we were wandering around the festival, my mom holding the bucket, Ella holding the role of stickers and me asking people if they wanted free pie. One lady said, "Sure, I guess I will have free pie," and reached out a hand for a sticker. I said, "Well you have to donate something to the bucket, even just $.50 or $1." She said, "Forget it."

I simply don't understand this. I try not to be judgemental but I really can't fathom it. I mean, aside from flaky pastry, look at all you can do with a sticker:

Ella carried "Daisy" around with her for two days in this backpack.

Day three promised to be hot and Maya opted to go with Sandi to a mandatory school party at a pool.  We found lots of friends, including the twins who Ella somehow spied out of the massive crowd.    Here they are eating donut kebabs:


Ella is a fierce hula hooper.  There is a lady each year who has these water-weighted hoops at one of the stages and we bought Ella one two years ago because she was so good at it.  Here she is twirling 4 hoops.

I decided this would be the moment I learned to hula hoop.  It is as much fun as it looks.

But for sure the best part of the weekend was watching my mother learn.  She had been gone when the woman was teaching me and when she returned I said, "You should totally do this mom.  It's so fun."  She said, "No way," and 5 minutes later she was swinging her hips to hula hooping success.

When we came home Sunday from the festival a tired Ella was in tears, knowing what the end of the festival signals.  "Please take me back to the festival. I will feel so much better if you just take me back." "I don't want to go to school."  "It's not fair that I have to go.  Summer is so short and school is so loooooong."  "I want to stay home and have fun with Maya and you."  "I don't like school. There is nothing fun about it."  "I don't want to be apart from you all year."

It is heart wrenching to hold your child while she pours her pain out like this.  It can send even the most sane mom into wild thoughts of home-schooling and calculations of the real risk of not getting an education. I knew it was coming. I had been looking for it.  It doesn't make it easier.  I had this same experience each year as a child when summer ended.  Even as an adult I am grieving the loss of summer in a huge way. I am relieved for a little breathing room, a bit more sleep, a break from being "on" all day every day, but I will miss my girls and waking up on a sunny day and deciding which beach to go to. 

And even more, I grieve that fact that next time we have this time, they will be a whole year older.  These annual events and looking at pictures of them at the same place across different years, shreds my heart a little.

So yesterday with t-minus 2 days until school, the girls and I went on a little "hike" in the woods, saw all sorts of nature, held hands and enjoyed each other.  Ella said to me, "You know, I feel better about school now after I had that big cry." 

Yes, darling.  Of course you did. You are just like me.  Big feelings, big shifts.

Maya was VERY proud to spot this monstrous, and hopefully abandoned bee hive (hornet's nest?) on our hike.
 All I can say is that I hope all the love of this summer has enough grounding to hold them steady as they venture back out into the world.

You know what we are doing on this last rainy day of summer before tonight's open house to welcome kids back to school?  We are going to see "Brave" with Ange and the kids and, naturally, to go eat free pie at Governor's.

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