Thursday, September 29, 2011

"Fun" Run

Ella is my quirky kid.

Let me give you a moment to act surprised.

It's not that she's weird.  Ella just has her little peculiarities, and she makes sure that everybody knows them.  She knows what she likes... and more importantly, she knows what she doesn't like. 

She doesn't like ice cream because it's too cold.  Same with popsicles.  She won't drink juice, flavored milk, lemonade, soda, smoothies, slushies, or anything other than skim milk and water.  Period.  Lunchmeat is off-limits, as is spaghetti.  Goldfish crackers are the devil.  She won't eat potatoes beyond the "French fried" variety.  And if there is rice on her plate, she will cry.

Her quirks aren't just limited to food, though.  Ella is an exceptional athlete and loves to play sports.  Once upon a time she especially liked soccer, so I signed her up for a season.  But Ella didn't play much, because at the beginning of the first game the team had to run through a pitifully skimpy wall of streamers.  And then people clapped.

Ella doesn't like it when people clap - and the streamers totally freaked her out.  Her soccer career pretty much ended before the game began.

All this to say that, last week, when Ella came home all excited about her school's annual fundraiser, I was a bit surprised.  The school's Boosterthon program is one of those lap-running deals.  You know, where the parents pledge money to the school for making a pack of kids run around the field for an hour and you don't even get a roll of wrapping paper out it?  But Ella was super-excited and ready to get started.

"All you have to do is get online and type in your pledges - and we get prizes!  I want the scooter."

I looked through her Boosterthon information.  To get the scooter, Ella needed to get someone to pledge $50 per lap run.  According to the brochure, the average kid runs 25-35 laps.

I told Ella to ask Santa for a scooter and pledged to give her and each twin a flat donation of $5.00.  (I also signed the grandparents up for $5.00 a piece, but they don't know that yet.)

Since today was the actual Boosterthon Fun Run, Ella and her sisters woke up extra early this morning to make sure they were dressed and ready for the day's events.  After convincing Evie that jeans were not the best choice, fixing 3 heads of hair, eating breakfast, missing the school bus, and forgetting lunch bags, we were on our way to school.

"You're coming to the Fun Run, right Mommy?  Parents are supposed to come."

Out of a sense of mommy-guilt and against what I now know was my better judgement, I promised the girls I'd be there.  I even arrived early to make sure I didn't miss anything, and was sitting in the front row for the "opening ceremony." 

Luckily, there were no streamers.  There was, however, a full-sized tunnel.

As the kids ran through the inflatable tube, class by class, onto the field, I overheard the parent next to me comment, "What's going on in there?"

I moved in for a closer look at the crying child curled up in the fetal position.  Streams of kids were running past her out the other end of the tunnel.

"Oh gee, I don't know.  Um, maybe I should go check."

The minute Ella saw me, she plastered her sobbing body to my legs and begged me to take her home.  "PEOPLE ARE LOOKING AT ME!!!!!!!   I DON'T WANT PEOPLE LOOKING AT ME!!!!!!!!!!"

It took awhile to convince her that people would probably stop looking at her if she just quit screaming and joined the ginormous mass of children on the field.  When she was finally calmed down, I decided it would be better to stand by the Kindergarten track and out of Ella's line of sight.  I didn't want to risk upsetting her again. 

Emily and Evie were delighted to see me and waved excitedly until a buzzer sounded the start of the race... at which point they were trampled by the mass of children behind them.

By Lap 3, they were sticky and sweaty and done with waving.  They pushed their way through the sea of kids, like salmon swimming upstream, and flopped down next to me.  Emily was whining, "I want to stay here with you, Mommy," while Evie gave voice - albeit screechier - to the question I was thinking: "Why are we doing this?!?"

One miserable hour later, I asked the twins' teacher to peel the girls off me, blew a surreptitious kiss in Ella's direction, and headed towards the car with a screaming 3-year old boy in my arms.  He was upset because he didn't get to run through a tunnel. 

The woman who'd been sitting near me earlier try to stop us and ask my name, but I pretended not to hear her.  I didn't want her telling her friends about "that crazy mom with the out-of-control kids."  Or at least, I didn't want her giving them my name.  I value my anonymity, especially where my kids are involved.

I guess Ella's not the only one with quirks.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Wheels on the Bus

School is in session now and three of my four children are attending the local elementary school. Every day. For 8 hours a day.

Uh, yeah. Can I get a "Wa Hoo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"?

So you'd think with the sudden abundance of free time, I'd be blogging daily. After all, I have a 3-page list of stories to share with you 11 followers, and I hate the thought of my faithful few checking this site every day for something new, only to find the same, stale, August edition.

Unfortunately, despite the glorious freedom of the 5-day school week, it takes me about 7 of my 8 daily hours to recover from the trauma of the bus stop. I spend the final hour alternating between washing the breakfast dishes and curling up in the corner whispering, "They're coming... they're coming... they're coming..."

Maybe we didn't get the whole bus thing started off on the right foot. If you read this post, you know that my kids are notorious for making bad first impressions. The countywide "Bus Round-Up" - a practice ride for the kindergartners and their parents - was no exception. For starters, I made the mistake of giving the girls' driver, Ms. Janice, a jar of attempted homemade preserves.... and our names.

"Hi! This is Emily, this is Evie, and I'm their mom."

We were about half-way through the ride when Evie told me that her tummy hurt. I tried to ignore her greenish complexion and told her she'd feel better in a few minutes.

Which she did, right after she stepped off the bus and puked on the sidewalk.

"Oh, is Emily alright? Or is that Evie?" Ms. Janice asked.

I muttered a response, wiped down my child as best I could, and bee-lined for the door as Ms. Janice surveyed the mess we'd left behind. It must have triggered something in her mind, because she suddenly hollered, "Oh by the way, thanks for the jam!"


Not that I needed that delightful first impression to make my children memorable. During these first several weeks of school, Emily and Evie have alternated with what I've come to think of as "terror tantrums." There is no rhyme or reason to a terror tantrum. Maybe Emily accidentally packed her pink pony instead of her purple one. Maybe Evie ran out of time to finish her third round of breakfast . Whatever the cause, the result is always the same: me chasing a shrieking child down the street, dragging her back to the bus, and allowing Ms. Janice to peel her off of me while the flailing child cries hysterically, "I DON'T WANT TO RIDE ON THE BUS!!!"

At this point, I have to mention that we have several lovely Indian women in our neighborhood, and that while the other parents simply watch their child load and then walk away, these particular mothers wait until the bus actually pulls out to leave. Which means that they have witnessed every one of the terror tantrums - usually with their jaws hanging somewhere down around their knees.

I'm dying to know the parenting secrets of India...

Not that my children are the only ones giving the family a bad rap. I'm more than capable of accomplishing that on my own. Just yesterday, I was late getting to the bus stop and Ms. Janice was forced to relinquish care of my children to one of several kind neighbors. My neighbor was a little surprised, my children were more than traumatized, and I was totally embarrassed.

So today, when I nearly missed the bus again, I was forced to kick off my shoes and sprint down the street screaming, "I'm here! I'm here! Don't leave yet, I'm here!!!"

You know that song about the wheels on the bus going 'round and 'round? There should probably be a verse in there somewhere about the crazy lady chasing it down the street.