Children of the corn
“And Heavenly Father, thank you that we got out of the corn maze…”
Amen, I said only to myself, because my middle son wasn’t done with the dinner prayer.
“Yeah, and that we got our coins!” my youngest chimed in.
“It’s not your turn!” my oldest scolded.
“Boys!” I gave them both the eye.
We’d spent a rough couple of hours in a corn maze today.
My oldest was in a hurry and the rest of us had to keep admonishing him to slow down. He and his Cub Scout den mates had only just that morning gotten “lost” in the woods because they’d gone too far ahead of the den leader and parents. I wondered, what’s the rush? – There were plenty of fun things to do inside the corn maze, like basketball, mini golf, giant puzzles, and quizzes. And besides, the quicker we got out, the higher the cost per minute. I’d had to whip out the plastic to pony up the entrance fee, and no, we were absolutely not buying any souvenirs.
Their arguments over whose turn it was to lead the way and who was being pokey where interspersed with, “You’re kidding me!” when we reached another dead end or “We’re never gonna get out of here” or “My legs are so tired they won’t move anymore!” or “All I wanna do is get that gold coin…”
Anytime someone leaves the maze, they can bang a gong at the exit. The sound of that gong did not go unnoticed by my kids, who initially were inspired (“They did it, so can we!”), then antagonized (“How come those people figured it out and we can’t?”), and then suspicious (“They must’ve cheated!”).
God help me, I’d said to myself numerous times. There were even a few times when I imagined myself charging through corn stalks like a madwoman, farfaraway from my kids. However, the fine for damaging the maze was stiff, as I repeatedly reminded my youngest, who was trudging along with his hand out tugging on stalks as we passed.
Frequently the kids just plowed ahead. They were looking for “the scorpion bridge,” one of many bridges in the maze that you could either go under or over, punching a circle or making an imprint on the field guide each time. My middle son was convinced it led to the way out.
I cringed as we bypassed paths with no consideration. “Boys, this is an option…” but once we passed it by, we may never figure out how to get back to it. I am sure we walked in circles countless times because we ended up at the same familiar landmarks repeatedly, as noted in our guide. We were fairly certain that route waschanged dynamically by moving sawhorses from time to time to mix things up. One of my older two was fairly certain that the guides were watching us and moving the sawhorses just to throw us off.
“No, honey, I am sure it’s nothing personal,” I assured him.
When the complaining got to be too much, and my oldest had asked me what time it was for the umpteenth time (we had to make it back to town for his basketball jamboree), I asked them, “Should we give up and ask the guides how to get out?”
My youngest was on board, “Yes! I just want the gold coin…”
“But honey, everyone gets the gold coin eventually. Is it going to mean as much if we don’t solve the maze by ourselves?”
My older two could see my point, but my youngest confirmed, he just wanted the coin. I refused to carry him because I was already schlepping almost everything in my backpack, except for one of my older boys’ sweatshirts which I insisted he tie around his waist.
We carried on. I bristled every time I heard the “You’re kidding me!,” “We’re never gonna get out of here,” and “My legs…” chorus.
Finally I’d had it and just in time spotted a potential way out, “Look! Emergency exit! Is this an emergency?”
My youngest looked at me imploringly.
My middle son didn’t want to give up. “Let’s just ask for a clue to the scorpion bridge…”
Relieved, I agreed, “Good plan!” And my youngest appeared shored up with new hope.
We got our clue and it included going through a “do not enter” path. Would we be okay with that, the guide wanted to know. “If you say it’s okay, then it’s okay, right boys?”
They agreed that we could ‘break the rule’ if we had permission.
So, in a matter of moments, we were leaving the maze, banging the gong, and collecting our gold coins. We went our separate ways in the courtyard. My youngest went into the bouncy house, my older two went into the gift shop to look, because I reminded them that I was absolutely not buying any souvenirs, and I walked at my own pace and alone through a stone labyrinth.
On the way home in the car, we debriefed.
“That was hard and sometimes frustrating, wasn’t it, boys?”
“Yeah…” my middle son answered. My oldest already had his nose in his book.
“Well, kind of like life, you don’t always know what’s coming around the next corner.”
“It’s okay to ask for help when you’re stuck, you know.”