A Charming Family Day at The Apple Orchard

We failed to make plans again on Saturday, so we loafed around the house trying to think of something to do while the boys ate crackers, moaned, argued and faked injuries. Out of desperation, every few hours one of us took a kid on a solo run to buy something we didn’t need. “I’m going insane. Can I just take Arlo to Target for a while and wheel him around? You can stay here with Silas and play imaginary games that only he understands. Do we need anything? Like a rake, extension cord, Crockpot, lettuce, or an XXXL NASCAR windbreaker?” We were totally pathetic and Lindsay was determined not to let it happen again.

Sunday morning at 8:15, she proclaimed to everyone within shouting distance: “We’re leaving for the apple orchard in 25 minutes!” After we explained what an orchard is, the kids couldn’t get their shoes on fast enough. The grass was still glistening when we arrived. The young farm hands were shaking off their yawns, while off in the distance, I thought I saw a skinny naked man with a beard peeing into a plastic jug. We were in rural bliss. When the boys ran off together, cackling with excitement, Lindsay and I agreed: this was what families were supposed to do on weekends. For the 500th time in the last 5 years, we’d unlocked the secret of domestic harmony.

We were so amped that we opted to walk into the orchard instead of taking the hay ride. All six kinds of apple trees were begging to be harvested and we quickly filled our bags. I tapped-off a dozen photos to show extended family members how happy we all were (I’ve never taken a picture inside Target).

After 15 minutes or so, we’d wandered our way to the pumpkin patch. Silas made three failed attempts at dead-lifting a 70-pound gourd roughly the size of his brother. We opted instead for two smaller ones, which I placed carefully in our little red wagon.

Everything was too perfect not to fall apart. When I asked Arlo if he wanted to ride in the wagon with the pumpkins, he responded by inexplicably running off into the pumpkin patch wailing his head off (turns out he was hungry). After procuring a cheese stick, he agreed to walk back to the orchard with us — crisis averted. Thirty seconds later, a bee stung Silas on the top of his ear, and of course, he went completely bananas. Lindsay was yelling, “Get the stinger out. BUT DONT PULL IT OUT!” She swatted my hand away, and then sucked Silas’ ear as if he’d been bitten by a venomous cobra. I picked him up and took him to the “Gala” section of the orchard to try to distract him, but also had to consider the possibility that he’s allergic to bee stings, and we’d end up with no other choice than to have the old cider-jug-piss-man work some backwoods medicine.

Luckily a young worker heard the melt-down and came over with some sting ointment and despite a little throbbing, Silas at least appeared to be human. I felt ridiculous holding the elephant shaped icepack from the cooler against his ear, but this wasn’t about me. For a moment, it appeared the day hadn’t been ruined. Then Silas was stung again and immediately developed PTSD. I know it’s called “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder”, but technically, 3 seconds is “post.” He was running around on his tip toes with two thick strands of hysteria-snot dangling from his nose. “There’s a bee… is that a bee a BEE A BEEEEEEE I WANT TO GO HOME. HOME. GO HOME RIGHT NOW!” Apparently, whatever happened to the bees a couple of years ago, they’re pissed about it and they’re blaming it on children. This won’t end well. Civilization will either be extinct in 6 months, or bees will take over The Stock Exchange.

Obviously, Silas was d-to-the-done with the orchard. Both kids wanted to be carried. Plus we had a wagon with two pumpkins, 3 sacks of apples, and the ever-present 45 pound “purse” of kid’s stuff Lindsay brings with her everywhere. I carried Arlo, ditched one pumpkin, put the bags in the wagon, and waddled my way out like I was participating in The World’s Weakest Man competition.

Upon finally exiting the bee orchard, the kids let us put them down. While Lindsay walked with them back to the car, I ventured into a barn to weigh and pay for our fruit and squash. The barn had roughly 7 million bees in it along with 10 high school girls who were all yelling “OH MY GOD” at the same time. Their hysteria provided me with the opportunity to slip in the front of the line. I threw my pumpkin on the scale, paid some ridiculous amount of money, and ran for my life — pulling that little red wagon behind me all the way to the car.

Shortly after arriving home, Silas asked, “Can I tell my teacher the story of how I got stinged by a bee?” One rite of passage down, and at least 200 to go. If anyone wants to come over and help us finish off all this apple cobbler, we’re totally open next weekend.

I'm a contributing writer to Parents Magazine, GQ, Psychology Today and some others. My book, "This is Ridiculous. This is Amazing: Parenthood in 71 Lists" is available here http://bit.ly/1exfm34. Look for two more books in 2015: "Must. Push. Buttons (Bloomsbury Kids), and an as-of-yet untitled memoir I’ve appeared on Comedy Central’s “Live at Gotham” and “Nick Mom’s Night Out." I live in New Jersey with my wife and two sons and enjoy making them laugh more than anyone else.

16 comments On A Charming Family Day at The Apple Orchard

  • Okay, here I have to laugh DIRECTLY at you all for this kind of thing!! I’ve had so many serene days at apple orchards – my worst ones are from home!

  • Glad it’s not just us! We have five kids and the hysteria at times reaches near epidemic levels.

  • sounds…”fun”…

  • we had a similar experience at an apple orchard in September 2010 with my parents and our two boys, ages 1 and 3.5 at the time. It was a gorgeous day, and we, too, took wagons up into the GIANT orchard since my parents failed to tell us we could drive up there. we didn’t take the hayride because the 3yo was absolutely terrified of the big tractor. this tractor ruined our entire day–you could hear it from everywhere, and the poor kid was so terrified that it was going to come within view that he refused to get out of the wagon at all. on the way home, he muttered under his breath, for the entire 40 minute drive, “f*ckin’ tractor!” with all the inflection of a 45-year-old half-drunk, smoking, truck driving man. so casual. so properly used. i still don’t know whether to laugh, be proud, or shrink in horror at that.

  • Not sure why this post has no comments? I just infuriated my 8yo son by choking with laughter (tears- there are tears running down my face) while I’m supposed to be laying quietly beside him while he drifts off to sleep. Thank you!!!

    • having some problems with comments at the moment. Glad you liked the post!

    • “while I’m supposed to be laying quietly beside him while he drifts off to sleep.” Uh oh, so my baby daddy is right… If I indulge my 2-year old and sit by her crib every night until she falls asleep, I’ll have to keep doing it until she’s 10!!!

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