Ahhhh, autumn. The time of year when we turn around to discover that the air has suddenly become light and crisp, filling our bellies with a craving for cider donuts and our heads with the idea that apple picking would be the perfect family activity to make part of your fall traditions. So before the leaves turn from blazing orange to boring brown, we pack up our progeny and head to the nearest farm full of trees heavy with fruit—and hopefully a perfectly-laid pumpkin patch for additional photo opps. Here’s how that’s going to go.
1. You’ll dress everyone in their finest semi-coordinated flannel and denim gear for peak photogenic purposes, insisting you’ll be in and out before the mercury reaches its forecasted high of ninety degrees.
2. Approximately six thousand other families who had the same idea as you will arrive at the parking lot at the exact same time as you on Saturday morning.
3. The adorable red wagon in the trunk will require much more wrestling and under-your-breath cursing to remove it from your car than it took to get it in there.
4. A child that is not yours will hear one of those words that apparently you didn’t say quite so under your breath and repeat it loud enough for everyone in the parking lot to hear. This will make your kids giggle so hard it’s impossible to laugh.
5. At the pick-it-yourself information stand, an employee with grey-streaked braided hair and wearing a hemp apron will enthusiastically demonstrate the proper way to gently tug-and-twist fruit ready for the taking while handing over apple baskets the kids will promptly place on their heads.
6. By the time you arrive in a row of trees everyone can kind of agree on, the kids will have translated the technique into more of a yank-and-hang method, resulting in various broken branches and whiplashed siblings.
7. The next twenty minutes of your life will be a montage of lifting kids to pluck apples from high branches, chasing kids who are running away from pectin-drunk bees, and preventing other kids from doing nose-dives into steaming heaps of half-masticated cores tossed aside by rogue deer, all while wiping flop-sweat from your brow as you try to capture the sweeter moments on camera without losing your shizzle over how really, really hot it is out.
8. Once the baskets lining your wagon are full, you’ll drag the loot past the pumpkin patch, hoping to nab a holiday-card-worthy image along the way.
9. After a few minutes of super cute frolicking, your kids will realize you really aren’t going to buy the thirty-pound gourds they fell in love with, so will freak the freak out.
10. You’ll notice that with the new solar flare filter and wide angle lens on your phone, the sight of your tantrumming kids running away from you actually looks like a sweet sibling adventure caught from behind when framed just right. Hello, holiday card photo!
11. Once you get that perfect shot, you’ll persuade the weeping children to come back to you with promises of letting them feed a carrot to the sad ponies that hang out by the fence near the parking lot.
12. To wear them out for the ride home, you let the kids climb on the mountain of hay bales before checking out, making them think you’re the bestest person ever to exist. Between the flannel, wild hair, and all the hay in their clothes, by the time you round them up again they look like scarecrows brought to life.
13. To weigh and pay for your apple haul, your family will need to walk through the farm store, which will be teeming with apple fritters, cider donuts, apple cakes, spiced cider and apple pies that you simply cannot pass up because you’re all starving and, really, you never do get out here so why not treat yourself?
14. You’ll pay $59.76 for about twenty bucks’ worth of apples.
15. You’ll never want to talk about how much you paid for the desserts.
16. At least one kid will be too scared of the sad ponies to feed them before you leave.
17. At least one kid will need to pee as soon as you’re backing out of the parking lot.
18. At least one kid will wait until you get to the highway before letting you know they left their shoes by the hay bales.
19. After looking up apple recipes online for hours once you’re back home, you’ll realize how much you don’t actually want to bake anything with all those apples, so decide to display them in decorative bowls and leave the kitchen.
20. Avoiding baking, you’ll instead post a carefully curated selection of apple picking pics on social media. They’ll garner so many likes and, “Your kids are so cute!” comments that it’ll erase any annoyance over how expensive and exhausting the day was, ensuring that you’ll do it all over again next year.