Friday, March 16, 2007


I wish I'd taken my camera... but I didn't, so you'll just have to bear with a narrative.

Z-boy's school had its Spring Festival yesterday. He'd started bringing home sign-up sheets and pleas for the buying of tickets a month ago. His teacher emailed me a request to fill out the sign-up sheet. So I volunteered a couple of set-up hours and bought two sheets of tickets for my son.

Now, I have to say this about this school. Many of the children who come are from lower income families, and very YOUNG families. I had my son when I was 37. Quite a few of these moms had their children before age 20, when they were barely not children themselves. And some had their kids when they were still kids themselves. As such, most are not inclined to volunteer, donate money or even show up for most things.

But the Spring Festival? Well, that was a different experience altogether. I was amazed at the number of people who showed up to set up, to man booths, and stayed to clean up afterwards. The problem was organization. The head of maintenance had a map of how the festival should be set up - but it bore no resemblance to the space we were supposed to be setting up. There were supposed to be tables and chairs, but no provision for a) finding them or b) transporting them to the playground. People were walking around scratching their heads and asking what they needed to do and no one was telling them.

This is where being an adult and the big sister of a crowd of boys came in handy. I took the map away from the maintenance guy. We figured out where "Kid Zone" was supposed to be and what was supposed to be in there. I made them work on that first. We found a storage room that had most of the bits we needed and proceeded to haul them out. I went to the coach and got rings and beanbags and hula hoops. I grabbed two rather large men and told them to find the supports for the football toss and to nail the thing back together. Much of this stuff was falling apart, so I ran home, got my drill, hammer, nails, screws and screwdrivers, then came back and fixed stuff. I told the big guys where to put things; the ladies where to put signs and miracle of miracles, by 11AM when the festival started, we were READY!

Ever seen one of those big-screen musicals where people flood out of doorways to fill the streets with singing and dancing? That's what it looked like when the kids were let out. Whoops and hollers and waving of tickets. For a hyper-excited mob of under-10s, they were surprisingly well behaved. No pushing or shoving. No yelling (at least not the bad kind). Lots of laughing, talking and dirty butts. We had some of those big blowup things - slide, moon walk, obstacle course - and the kids would just plunk right down in the dirt to remove their shoes. You had to watch where you were going because tripping on discarded shoes was a major hazard.

The surprise hit of the festival was the jail. You could pay a ticket and have someone thrown in jail, and then they had to be bailed out by someone else paying a ticket to get them out. Z-boy begged and pleaded to be thrown in jail. Finally, someone did pay to put him behind bars. He walked around in there, shook the bars, jumped up and down and was bored within 5 minutes. Someone finally bailed him out. He came over to me and said, "Mom? I don't ever want to go to jail again. It's BORING!" That's my boy. I have to wonder about some of these other kids though. They thought being put in jail was the highlight of their day. Makes me worry a little about their futures...

The noise was phenomenal. One teacher was walking around with earplugs. Coach, who was pretty much away from the crowd doing basketball shots on the court was really funny. He's a very fair guy - blonde hair and blue eyes. Ever seen one of those cartoons where something explodes in your face and your hair is straight back and your eyebrows are standing up and the character looks surprised even though he's holding a box that SAYS "Acme Dyn-o-mite Company"? That was the expression on Coach's face. Overwhelmed by the sheer noise of it all. I could relate - it exhausted me. I was in bed and snoring by 8:30 last night.

The festival ended at 2pm sharp. The bell rang, shoes were collected and everybody went back to class. It was like magic. And the cleanup crew had their work cut out for them.

I'm kind of sad that we won't be at this school next year. Because I love a challenge, and I would LOVE to whip that Festival into shape. None of this day-of wondering where to find stuff, how to fix stuff and where it all goes. I'll just have to get my hands dirty at the next school. Show 'em how it's done.

Big sister? Five brothers? Yup. I know how to run a carnival.

No comments: