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The stay-at-home dad: Kettle Corn season and exercise motivation

by TYLER WILSON/Coeur Voice contributor
| October 10, 2020 1:00 AM

Kettle Corn helps in all sorts of parenting-related predicaments.

My kids love the stuff. I love the stuff. It adds a salty-sweet dynamic to all events - baseball games, street fairs, carnivals, etc. And I’m not talking about the microwave bag imitation; I’m talking about the good stuff cooked in an actual kettle. Additional flavors (caramel, pumpkin spice) are acceptable on a case-by-case basis.

I credit kettle corn with averting numerous public blow-ups, especially when my four kids were a bit younger and in need of more prefrontal cortex development. Kettle corn pierces through all lapses of age-related logical reasoning.

It especially works for transitions. I recommend it as an incentive to leave kid-centric places you no longer want to be.

I’ll share our family’s most frequent example: As Silverwood season pass holders, my wife and I prefer to enjoy the theme park in short bursts throughout the summer. My tolerance for taking four children on kiddie rides (and being around other people in general) lasts approximately three hours. Add in drive time, day-trip packing, snack-making and sunscreen application, and a trip to Silverwood still fills most of the day for our family.

My kids don’t ever want to leave Silverwood. It’s undeniably fun, right? But it’s exhausting, especially when you as the parent have to cram your fat butt into a tiny seat and pray the safety bar locks in place. If it doesn’t, you have to be removed from the ride by an awkward teenage employee. It’s embarrassing, although I will credit the “Butterflyer Incident of 2017” as motivation for a subsequent 25-pound weight loss regimen.

Anyway, the kids always want “one more ride,” and the easiest of excuses to leave won’t work once your oldest kid reaches kindergarten.

Me: “Oh, we can’t do another ride because the park is closing.”

Kid: “Then why isn’t everyone else leaving?”

Me: “We need to leave before it starts raining.”

Kid: “There aren’t any clouds in the sky.”

Luckily, there’s a spot just outside of the kid section at Silverwood that offers some pretty delicious kettle corn. Reasonably priced too! When we say it’s time to leave, we tell them they can have kettle corn as they walk to the car and ride home.

Works every time. You want some tried-and-true parenting advice? Bribe your kids with sugar.

Okay brief aside before we move on with the column: If anyone with influence at Silverwood reads this, let me offer one teeny-tiny suggestion: Get some better ties for your bags of kettle corn. That little piece of tape can’t be easily re-tied, and sometimes our kids trick us into riding the carousel near the exit after we’ve purchased the treat. We need to reseal!

Anyway, kettle corn is basically the only weapon we have when my wife and I want to leave a fun place, especially this time of year. Greenbluff, corn mazes… the list goes on. When we’ve had enough, we buy kettle corn. It’s especially effective when there’s a nip in the air and the kettle corn comes out hot.

Kettle corn can also be a motivator for exercise and exertion too, which is why I think it should be considered a health food. Case in point, a couple years ago, I decided to take four kids (including a 1-year-old) on an epic run through the Liberty Lake community garage sales. It’s a lot of walking, and because the temperature popped above 70 degrees, the kids got “hot” within five minutes and required frequent stops for water. Apparently “drinking-while-walking” is an advanced skill set.

Anyway, I wasn’t yet finished shopping for 50-cent DVDs and old Ninja Turtles toys, and I needed to get my daily exercise in if I wanted to fit onto the Tiny Toot Coaster at Silverwood later in the summer. My kids wanted to turn back to the car, which wasn’t even a quarter-a-mile away at the time.

Then I told them about the kettle corn available at the city park, which was probably two miles away. I’ve never seen my kids with such a hop in their steps. Not only did they make it to the park without incident, they wanted to play on the playground despite being “too hot to move” 30 minutes prior.

I even used the kettle corn as an incentive for the long walk back to the car. About halfway through the bag, I resealed it (with an excellent twisty tie that I totally recommend for all other purveyors of bagged treats) and saved the rest as a reward for making it all the way.

So there: Kettle corn can help keep you and your family in shape. Our dentist, however, doesn’t recommend it.

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Tyler Wilson is a freelance writer and stay-at-home dad to four kids, ages 3-9. He is tired. He can be reached at twilson@cdapress.com.