I don't remember Fall Festivals or Family Fun Nights at school when I was growing up. Did they not exist? Or were there just too many of us kids for my parents to even try taking us?
A couple of weeks ago, I got to experience Fall Festival at Kylee's school. The chaotic hubub of children was nearly more than I could take and I counted myself lucky to get out of there without passing out or killing someone. I am NOT good in crowds or in places with lots of noise.
So it was with some amount of dismay that I faced taking not only my son to Family Fun Night but his friend Jessie as well. As Cub Scouts, they were supposed to help clean up afterwards but of course they wanted to be there for the festivities as well.
Unlike Kylee's thing, this one was free. We prepaid for a box meal ($5.00 each), but everything else was free. There was the bouncy thing and face painting and sno-cones and a pumpkin contest and a book fair. The bouncy thing was the big hit. The boys stood in line for ages and finally got in, bounced as much as they could for three minutes, then came out soaking wet and smelling a bit like wet dog. Sno-cones were next on their agenda, then it was back to the bouncy thing.
While they were standing in line again, I sat on a bench to the side and watched a helicopter above with a search light flying in a fairly tight pattern high above the school. From the angle of the search light, I surmised that it was following a car that eventually wound up in the mall parking lot about a block and a half away. Eventually, the thing got close enough to be heard above the noise of the screaming kids, at which point ZBoy jumped out of line and came to get me and go inside so we could "be safe". He was worried that there was a bad man coming to the school and he wanted to be inside in case that happened. He was so panicked at the idea that I agreed to go inside with him and Jessie.
As I listened to their pleas, I felt something land on my shoulder. Some very large bug had alit there and as I turned to check it out, the guy sitting next to me brushed it off my shoulder. I asked him what it was and he said it looked like a praying mantis. Gee - I'd have liked to get a look at that.
I herded the boys into the cafeteria where a clogging demonstration was taking place and as I watched, I felt something crawling in my hair. Then on my face. My vision was totally obscured by bug abdomen! I gently brushed it off and it landed on my shoulder, where I could finally get a look at it. Yes! A very charming praying mantis sat on my shoulder and looked at me - then suddenly disappeared. Another man, thinking himself chivalrous, knocked it off my shoulder. It promptly flew onto another woman's leg. I went after it, trying to catch it before it got hurt, but she noticed it and started this weird domino effect of women screaming and stomping and waving their arms around. Girls... In the pandemonium, I lost track of the poor little critter. I can only hope he escaped with his life.
The boys went and checked on the helicopter, which had left the area, so we went back outside again to get in line at the bouncy thing again. Ages later, they tumbled out again and decided to get their faces painted.
This was old hat for Jessie, who requested a snake on his cheek, but Z had never had his face painted before. He couldn't make up his mind and the college girls manning the booth were getting a little peeved. Z finally decided on a dragon and the girls looked at each other blankly. They'd been doing kitty cats and tigers and butterflies all night, but a dragon request was a first for them. One girl finally volunteered to try. It turned out pretty well, though to me it kind of looked like a squirrel with bad breath. ZBoy was very proud of it though:
I realize that these kind of events are part of parenthood these days, but I truly hope there's not another one for a long, long time. They always make me wonder what I've gotten myself into.