Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Corn Maze Chronicles

The sky was grey and dull but despite the rain, it was warm for late October.  A few times I had considered cancelling the outdoor activity I had planned but kept telling myself a self-respecting west coast mom would never do such a thing.  Plus, I had already promised four children, in addition to my own, an afternoon of corn maze fun.  I figured we would be fine for an hour or so plus we were armed with rubber boats and rain coats.  Not my first time trampling through a corn maze on the west coast of BC.  I was experienced.
As I drove out of the school parking lot, the energy inside the vehicle was picking up.  Liv and Emma were sitting in the back.  Middle row had Ben, Carter and Addison, and co-piloting beside me was Emilie.  Six kids between the ages of 5 - 12.  The noise was so loud, I didn't hear myself tell myself I was turning the wrong way.   Now I had to listen to the chatter a few minutes longer, heading to the corn maze the long way.

Corn maze nightmares
All seven passengers in the car had been to a corn maze before.  That sparked a lively discussion on being up to your eyeballs in mud, becoming disorientated in the maze and corn maze nightmares. 

“I used to be scared of being eaten by those corn maze monsters”, says Emilie (12).  I tried to think back to old horror movies where man eating corn maze machines were prevalent but came up empty handed.  Frank, from the Disney movie Cars, maybe?
The vehicle, for the first time, was now silent and all ears were listening to Emilie and me.  “There are no corn maze monsters” I said, knowing the audience included two young girls, sisters, who were probably going to be very concerned and scared by this story.  I was not about to have crying and terrified kids on my watch.  Must diffuse the situation immediately. 
“Not real monsters, just the machines that cut the corn.  They look like giant green monsters with sharp pointy teeth coming at you.  I would never want to be trapped in a corn maze while they were harvesting the corn.” Replies Emilie, nonchalantly.  Her comment is not helping and I quickly replied, “Not to worry, this corn maze is for people to enjoy and they will not be cutting the corn for months.  Oh look, we are here!” I exclaim, hoping to bring the loud chatter back. 
Welcome to the Corn Maze

I had a diverse group of kids with me.  Two energetic 10 yr old boys, a caring and attentive 12 year old girl, a five year old girl who was clinging to the 12 year old and two 8 year old girls who could give the boys a run for their money or hang out with me.  As soon as we hit the corn maze entrance, it was like a flock of birds taking flight in every direction. 
“WAIT, Wait!” I shouted.  Like homing pigeons, they came back.  I explained that we could not all go off running in different directions.  How was I going to keep track of the younger ones, knowing if they were all of a sudden alone in the corn maze, there would be tears?  Immediately, all six children agreed to play Mantracker, a tag/hide and go seek type of game.  In a quick chaotic moment, Ben and Carter were a team, Emilie and Addison were a team, Liv and Emma were a team and I was going solo.
The rules of the game are: Teams run through the corn maze trying to find other teams.  Once two teams find each other, they continue on together searching for the next team and so on. Then, without any warning, teams dispersed in completely different groupings than what was discussed and there I was, left all alone in the middle of the corn maze.  Pretty sure there were tears.
The first victim

I made it very clear that we were not to run in the slippery gooey mud and we had to be respectful of other people in the maze.  Of course there were no other people at the maze, with the rain and all, but that was not the point.  I quickly began to power walk and even at that I was slipping all over the path.
No sooner did I wonder when the first mud victim would appear, Team Ben, Carter and Emma come flying around the corner, Emma in tears.  “She fell in the mud.” says Ben, passing her to off me.  He and Carter disappear around another corner.  10 minutes into the maze and here I am standing beside poor Emma, sobbing softly, a few tears rolling down her cheek, and covered in mud from her waist down.  Her arms were muddy, her hands were muddy and even her hair was muddy.  I console her, tell her it is ok, it is just mud and ask her how it happened. 
I am hoping I can distract her enough so she will start having fun again.  I ask her if wiping her hands and bum off would help, the muddiest parts to her.  She nods.  I look around and all I see is mud, corn stalks, and mud.  Now what? “Remember when your mom and dad raced in Tough Mudder?” I ask.  Emma nods.  “Well, they looked just like you do right now.”  This brings a smile to her face and I know that she will be fine but I have to get her cleaned off a bit.  Normally I would have her wipe her hands off on my pants but for some reason, I decided to wear my new jeans today.  And here I thought I was an experienced corn maze goer. 
I decide to try and come up with another way  to clean her hands off before resorting to that.  Then I notice a few grassy spots between the mud path and corn field.  “How about we wipe your hands off on the grass, it is sort of like a cloth.” I tell her.  Thank goodness she agrees.  Perfect.  Now I get her to squat down and rub her butt on the grass so we can get at least one layer of mud off her.  Surprisingly, she agrees and both of us are smiling and laughing.  Quickly we become Team Emma and Jill.  Then we hear muddy footsteps coming and the two off us start running, me holding her hand to avoid another spill, giggling to find a spot to hide and regroup.  Game on.   
The man eating corn maze monster
Catching our breath and back near the corn maze entrance, Emma and I take a moment to regroup and focus.  The other teams are in there somewhere, hunting for us, but I am pretty confident that they will not head towards the entrance.  We listen quietly and can make out some voices and laughter coming from the other end of the maze.  “Well, that was pretty fun.”  I say to Emma.  She is right back into the swing of things and being covered in mud is a distance memory.  “I wonder how long it will take for them to find us.”  We listen again and this time a different sound can be heard.  Emma and I look at each other and she no longer has a smile on her face, more of a concerned look.  It sounds like a motor or a quad.  I recognize it but can’t quite figure out what it is.  One thing is for sure, it is getting louder. 

Suddenly the sky goes black.  There is background music, the kind you hear in horror films right before the scary villain jumps out.  The rumbling gets louder still but now it sounds like it is coming from our left, then right.  Emma and I are running through the corn field, fearing for our lives.  What is it we ask each other?  Too scared to stop, we keep running.  It could only be one thing.  The man eating corn maze monster has come alive and is heading straight for us! RUN!
photo courtesy of  www.deere.com
The sky returns to its dull grey hue.  Still standing in the same spot, I realize that the sound is the corn maze tractor coming around the outside of the maze.  A familiar sound because it was the same tractor and hay ride we took to the pumpkin patch before heading into the corn maze.  How I managed to think for a moment that the corn fields were being harvested is ridiculous.  Yet somehow, the story Emilie told earlier became so vivid.  A horror scene comes to life, or so I imagined.  I laugh to myself and then look down and see Emma’s white face.  She was thinking the exact same thing as me.  “Did you think that was the man eating corn maze monster too?” I asked her.  “Yes.” She replies.  Then we both laugh as the tractor continues to putt past us, around the corner and back up the hill towards the parking lot. 

Not sure I could accurately account for what actually happened during our time in the maze.  A quick synopsis: Team Emma and me were super sneaky and were never found.  Team Ben and Carter were running around, split up which was not part of the rules, and using the tower as a lookout to find Team Emilie, Liv and Addison and then make a run towards them.  Then, Addison got scared when the girls were hiding in the corn, thinking they were lost, so I took Addison on my team for a while.  Liv had a turn up on the tower and guided Emilie towards Ben and Carter, who were still running around crazy.  Often the two boys would be running towards me so I had both Emma and Addison jump into the corn stalks to avoid being seen.  They rocked it.  There was laughter, comradery, and pure enjoyment.  Not sure I will ever visit a corn maze on a clear, warm beautiful day again.  This muddy Mantracker game in a corn maze is pretty fun.

Post Corn Maze
At the end of our corn maze craziness, we all walked out with big smiles on our faces, completely soaked from the rain and mud up one side and down the other.  I had shut mom mode off a while ago, having fun and all, but suddenly it was turned back on.  And the first task ahead of me was how to get all six children into the vehicle with the least amount of mud spread throughout.  No towels.  No blankets.  Nothing.  And here I thought I was an experienced corn maze goer. 
Note: No KEEN's were harmed or covered in mud for this story. 

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