Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Well, I did I have some really big plans tonight to finish off a post I'd been letting marinate in the "drafts" section of this website for the last week or three, but by the time I got home and took emotional stock, I decided to just peel the frosting off some Zingers and call it a day. The children had their weekly Recreation/Sunday school time at church, an event during which I teach one grade level of arts and crafts as well as serve as a "Table Parent" during the dinner hour. The idea behind Table Parenting is that you, the adult, sit with a group of children during the meal in order to facilitate mealtime harmony, make sure the kids aren't acting like heathens, and yes-- I suppose, build relationships with them. It's actually a lovely idea, but I do have just one quick question. Why do my students think that fashioning a paper-bag puppet that can poop a brown pipe cleaner has anything to do with fire safety? And since when do fourth-graders use the word "balls"?
Right before dessert, I stuck my head in the kitchen to see my grandmother scraping the last spaghetti from a giant crock-pot. I asked how things were going from her perspective.
"Well", she said, "they just took Charlotte away in the squad because she fainted. And, well, you saw Pastor Don limping, you know, so he just drove himself to the emergency room."
Wow. And I'd thought the ambulance out front, with its flashing lights and everything, was just a prop for Fire Prevention Week. I'd assumed that our guest speaker, a VIP Fire Chief, had been delivered in it. Like a limo.
But, as it just so happens, we're dropping like flies.
The three of us walked home, the children in plastic fire hats making one-note siren sounds that spanned the entire space of time between the church basement and our back door. I tucked them in and checked the batteries in our smoke detector, then wondered if it was wrong to have told the story of how I watched a whole block of buildings burn to nothing once when I was little. How the phone rang before dawn in my parents bedroom, and how we all ran uptown in our pajamas to see the flames destroy the grocery store where I used to get maple candies with my mom. I remember standing there feeling mostly like I may as well have had on my underwear, wondering about the boy in my class who lived in the apartments above the store. I remember going back to bed, then getting up again for school, walking past the still-smoking building on my way.
For the rest of the year, every time I stood near the little boy (who made it out okay), I smelled smoke.
It wasn't real, the smoke. It was just my memory.
Downstairs, I saw that my oldest had drawn an "escape plan" on our dry erase board with permanent Sharpie. Maybe that's what I'm trying to do with these borderline terrifying stories? Leave an indelible mark? It's just...is anyone else ever overwhelmed with all the large and small bits of wisdom with which we're supposed to be injecting our children? I mean, what if I miss something critical? I can't leave it up to the school, especially when they've got Firefighter Phil teaching the safety basics. He isn't even a real firefighter. He's a clown. A CLOWN. I don't want to alarm anyone, but, like a friend of mine said last week, he may as well have just been some guy on the playground with a trench-coat full of lollipops.
Speaking of clowns, however, in other news, I did find this:
Apparently, this is what the internet imagines when you combine the following keywords: art, education, executive, entertainment, non-profit, management, and public relations.
Fine, I guess. As long as there's a discount on Skee-Ball.
*Valentine Image courtesy of Reform School Rules