Monday, February 9, 2015

Do Kids Still Play "Upset The Fruit Basket"?

I received an extremely disturbing email from Adelaide's teacher last week.

It would appear that at the beginning of the school year- you know, back when I was fresh off summer vacation and believed I could learn to like doing things with large groups of children, aka completely insane- I signed up to help out with the Valentine's Day party in our daughter's class.

Once I got over the shocking message contained within that email, suppressed memories began misting back.  I'm pretty sure I had blocked almost all traces of that fateful Back-to-School-Night to preserve my sanity in the intervening months.  I now recall that by the time we got to Adelaide's classroom and had stocked her desk, met her teacher, etc, all the easy jobs like bringing drinks and napkins and themed-snacks had been fulfilled by parents who had already come and gone, leaving the stinker responsibilities like "games" for all the holiday parties.

Thankfully my friend Anne was also a latecomer that night, and is to be my partner in Valentine fun.  I sent her a rather desperate and not totally coherent (I PANICKED, OKAY?) email right after I read the teacher's message stating I had signed up to coordinate games for 25 third graders for one hour.  Honestly, even now a part of my brain is having trouble believing this, because this is just not like me.  I'm not sure how I ended up this way, but I (usually) have little problem saying, "No, thank you," to people, and am not someone who feels pressure to say "Yes" to everything under the sun.  This likely has less to do with strength of character than my hermit-like tendencies coupled with having strong female role models in my family who were not afraid to say what they thought.  AND YET.  Here I am, searching Pinterest for Valentine's Day party game ideas.

This is probably because I know that if she asked me to, I would organize games on a monthly basis for Adelaide's teacher.  The way I've been carrying on since receiving her email you'd think Adelaide's school was some kind of displaced Gulag camp amid the Iowa cornfields.  Of course it's a fine school, but that teacher is in there for hours upon hours with those little vectors (I just can't seem to shake my mom's pet name for children, no matter how I try), whereas I'm slated to be there for one measly little hour, after which I will stagger out the door and renew my prayers of thanksgiving for teachers, who will still be stuck in there.

Upon finding out he would be coming with me, Caedmon, however, reacted as if he had won the lottery.  He cannot believe his good fortune:  One whole hour?  With Adelaide?  At school?

Hmm.  I put that gif up there to illustrate Caedmon's state of extreme excitement and anticipation, but I feel like it represents how I feel about the party pretty accurately, too, though for admittedly different reasons.


  1. Ha! Yes, that owl gif is a great visual for that feeling. I just volunteered to drive for the Indoor Percussion group that my 15-yr-old is in. And by "drive" I mean drive them to another state and stay for the whole weekend. What was I thinking?!

    Here's a game one of my kids played at a school party in elementary school: Indoor Snowball Fight. Divide the kids into two groups. Delineate a real (tape, chalk) or imaginary ("the line from that window to that door") line down the middle of the space. (Yes, this was done in an ordinary classroom, but to be honest I don't recall if they moved the desks or not. Maybe they used the desk to make the line.) Give each side a ream of newsprint (or blank paper of any kind, but newsprint is probably cheapest). Tell them they have to crumple the paper into balls. The winner is whichever side has the fewest "snowballs" on their side when you blow the final whistle. Rethrowing snowballs that land in your area is allowed, but you can't cross the line. It was noisy but they had a complete blast. Cleanup could be accomplished by making another game out of throwing the balls into a box/trash bag.

    I guess if you want to make it safer, you would have a no-man's land in the middle, so that kids aren't smashing their heads into each other at the dividing line.

    Okay, never mind, maybe that game isn't such a good idea.

  2. This is why I am glad my volunteering days are mostly behind me. Nevermind that I am spending my day off tomorrow working at a rest stop in sub-freezing temperatures to hand out coffee and goodies to travelers. Even has-been volunteers feel guilty and sign up sometimes.


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