The dangers of taking the country kid to town
Columnist Jessie Veeder fell in love with what the city has to offer after a recent trip to Fargo
WATFORD CITY, N.D. — We spent last weekend in the big town. I decided to make a singing trip a family trip all the way across the state, which happened to be right on the heels of one major winter storm and at the helm of another because it’s March and that’s what March does up north. And the cows aren’t having calves yet, so we took the chance to get away.
Also, lately the girls have been asking when we can go to the beach, and the closest we can get right now is meeting friends at a hotel pool in Fargo where there was 47 feet of snow piling up outside and more promised for Sunday.
And they were thrilled about it. Truly. Isn’t that the best thing about kids? It takes such simple efforts to make them happy. A promise of ice cream. Pizza for supper. A quarter in the gumball machine. Going up and down the escalator 55 times.
Seriously. I think the level of excitement about the escalator is the reddest of flags when identifying a rural/country kid in the big town. We also rode the store’s Ferris Wheel, but the escalator won in popularity. Rosie rode it so many times that her big sister Edie started to be seriously concerned about the rules. Could she get kicked out for shenanigans like this? Are you allowed to go up and then immediately down? Is there a limit on escalator rides? Does she know she’s starting to get embarrassing?
So went all of Edie’s 7-year-old concerns about her little sister’s lack of decorum in public. It’s like the big sister took a trip to civilization and realized that, perhaps, her little sister wasn’t equipped for these types of outings considering she wasn’t yet civilized herself.
So we took them to the roller-skating rink. Because etiquette goes out the window when you’re fighting for your life with eight tiny wheels strapped to your feet. And in case you’re wondering, country kids don’t know how to roller-skate due to the lack of available paved surfaces.
My kids took to the wood floor with all the confidence and grace of baby zoo giraffes on a frozen lake while their professional Rollerblading town friend and my husband spent the majority of the two-hour rink time holding hands and elbows and dragging our daughters back up on their wobbly, wheeled feet.
Which reminded me of the only time I ever roller-skated in my life down at my cousins’ ranch on the South Dakota border. Between the four of us, we had one pair of real, leather roller-skates with the orange wheels. They were at least four sizes too big, but it didn’t matter. We would take turns, two at a time, gliding around in circles on one skate on the small slab of concrete outside of their garage, skinning our bare knees there as we developed confidence entirely too quickly for the make-shift sport.
Needless to say, I didn’t step foot in a roller-skate that day. At this age, I have to seriously consider the repercussions of breaking a hip.
But my girls? After two Slurpies, three pieces of pizza, and five games of skee ball on the way out the door, they deemed themselves experts and have decided they’d like to live in Fargo now. Where they have roller rinks.
Oh, yeah, Edie decided she’d really just like to live in Target, and now I’m wondering how I’ve failed as a ranch mom, because surely now they’re going to leave me for the big cities with roller rinks and escalators, and I’m going to have to follow them and live in an RV in the local KOA to have a proper relationship with my grandkids.
My activity of choice for the weekend was less physical and more theater.
Edie’s been reading "The Pigeon Series" books by Mo Willems, and my cousin (the one with the roller-skates) just happened to be directing the play “Don’t Let the Pigeon Ride the Bus” that weekend. So we went, and it was adorable, and now Edie wants to live in Target and be an actress, and Rosie is so brave she goes down hotel pool waterslides backwards and headfirst even though Edie tells her it’s explicitly, most likely against the rules, and so now they’re both surely going to leave me for the warmer weather and waterslides in LA.
But first we had to get back to the ranch, which was completely impossible on Sunday because when you live in North Dakota, you shouldn’t go anywhere but Jamaica in March. And so we were forced to spend one more evening in the oasis of the hotel pool. As I drove us white-knuckled back west for five hours on icy and drifty roads, I wondered if maybe my girls were on to something. I mean, escalators are pretty fun.
But then, so are baby calves.
See you at the beach.
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Greetings from the ranch in western North Dakota and thank you so much for reading. If you're interested in more stories and reflections on rural living, its characters, heartbreaks, triumphs, absurdity and what it means to live, love and parent in the middle of nowhere, check out more of my Coming Home columns below. As always, I love to hear from you! Get in touch at email@example.com.