Friday, February 12, 2016

Snips and Snails and Endless Supplies of Destructive Energy

Right this second, Caedmon and I are both completely spent.  We have thirty minutes until we have to leave to pick the bigguns up from the bus stop.  I am typing.  He is curled up in the fetal position next to me.  This is what helping out at school parties does to us.

When I got an email from Atticus's teacher begging for more parent helpers for the Valentine's Day party, I was like, "Sure, yeah!  I can do that!  No problem!  Oh, what's that?  It's an hour and a half of Valentine fun with 25 of my favorite first graders?  Brilliant!"

That is how Cade and I found ourselves hauling a snack into a classroom, then obediently accepting a handful of chopsticks, marshmallows, and paper plates for our superfuntime Valentine game station.  There were stations all around the room, each manned by parents who were wearing their best forced smiles (except for that dad who had the grimmest, sourest expression that has possibly ever graced that classroom.  I admired his facial honesty and wondered what kind of bet he had lost with his wife.), and the teacher grouped the children into packs of five, rotating them through the stations.

Our first two groups both consisted entirely of boys who took the "pick the marshmallows on the center plate up with chopsticks and deposit them on your own plate, most mallows at the end wins" game to a place I didn't really know it could go.  There was stabbing of food and hands.  Marshmallows flew.  Chairs toppled.  I have two boys of my own so I knew what to do:  Disqualify every last boy and eat the prize strawberry Starburst in front of them.

Round two went more smoothly.

Honestly, though, at one point I found myself thinking, You know, IT'S FUNNY, I checked the school lunch menu last night and I'm quite sure I didn't see amphetamines on there, yet there is no other possible explanation for this.  It was madness.  I couldn't understand why there wasn't thick plexiglass between me and the animals and why I hadn't been charged admission to watch this display.

Then came one group of girls after another.  Beautiful, beautiful girls.

They were so calm.  So civilized.  Yes, many of them were competitive, but I didn't have to snatch Caedmon back from the table repeatedly due to fear of chopstick puncture wounds like I did with The Others.  They followed directions.  One of them told me I was pretty, another said, "You are SO NICE."  It all I could do not to pet them and maybe cry a little over the fact that they had to share a classroom with such beasts.  The shy "You're pretty" one had curly red hair and freckles and all that remains to be done is get her parents' contact information so I can arrange a marriage between her and our son.  Ginger grandbabies suit me just fine.

Atticus was one of three boys whose necks I did not find myself mentally measuring for estimated circumference- for shock collars, understand- and while I like to think our son would have been a good role model for the Testosterone Gang, more likely it was because he was the only boy in my final group that was otherwise populated by girls, and because hello, Mom's right there.

I've read before about the wisdom of classes divided by gender, and while I won't weigh in much on the topic, given that, you know, I'm not an educator, I do think that if I were ever sent to the fourth circle of hell and had to teach a classroom full of boys, I would demand Satan outfit my classroom with a fleet of treadmills, no desks necessary, thanks.  The treadmills- or stationary bikes, I'm not picky- would be arranged in a semicircle facing in, where I would teach as the boys remained in constant motion.  Kid with the most miles and completed math facts at the end of the day wins, as do their parents, who no longer have a kid bouncing off the walls the second they walk in the door after school.  You're welcome, society.

"Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, for when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him," says James 1:12.  It would seem that feral boy-related trials get a mustache rather than a crown, perhaps because it's not from God but rather one of his little angels whose mother I prayed for immediately after he left my station .  Also pictured:  Exhausted Caedmon who is SO DONE immediately following the party.


  1. love this....treadmills are best idea ever!

  2. Every time I served as a parent at a school party, I ended up at home in the fetal position, whimpering. I don't want to engage in gender prejudice, but I found that boys take 3 seconds to do a craft (moving quickly on the the stabbing-each-other stage), while girls take 10 minutes, and there is no way to control a group containing both gender.

    Indeed, blessed is the parent who survives an elementary school party.

  3. As the mom of all boys, I applaud your choosing of your older son's future wife AND your idea of getting those boys out from being seated at desks and actually doing something with their energy. (And actually, most of my boys are pretty mellow.)

  4. Of all the things I do not miss about having kids in primary grades? This is in the top three. No, top two. I remember one especially grueling kindergarten Christmas party when the other room mother had decided making gingerbread houses was a dandy activity for five-year-olds. She was insane, is what she was. Anyway, at the end of that sugar-crazed bedlam I was pulling frosting out of my hair and said to the teacher "Aren't you glad Christmas only comes once a year?" To which she smiled and said,"Oh, but look what fun they're having." Mrs. Pontious, you are a SAINT.

  5. I feel your pain.. I am to the point where i dread classroom parties and i don't make a big deal out of them like other teachers. I don't invite parents to come in and "help" but some do show up anyway. My class has kids that freak out over changes in routine, new people, etc. so i try to keep it low key as much as possible. But my best efforts are often thwarted by over excited children and their well meaning parents. And lots of sugar. I never volunteered for classroom parties when my kids were in school. I know too much. You have to pay me to do holiday parties. Even the its not enough. I'm very proud of you for doing it.


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