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.