I feel like I just narrowly escaped from Crazy Town. I get this feeling sometimes when I have to sit too long in the waiting room of a pediatric neurology office or something similar. I do not usually get this feeling at a school awards ceremony. But today…today was special. All the crazies were out. And the principal did not have her manual on running things like a well oiled machine.
My child was called up to the podium within 5 minutes of the program starting. This is both good and bad. I was instantly rewarded for being there. But the bad of it was that I was trapped in a horrifying swirl of poor behavior and odd decisions for the next 45 minutes. And I no longer really needed to be there.
People watching has always been something I loved. I still love it, but I do like to pick a comfier seat when I am going to do a lot of it. But today I sat where I sat and I saw what I saw and now I’m going to continue my path toward drivel…
A large family came in and sat down to my left. They were pleasant enough, but there were a lot of them. With 1000 kids. Or 3. Either way, they were running amuck. Their daughter, the one who’d be receiving an award, was sitting directly in front of me, which meant that I was unfortunately part of their CONSTANT interaction with her. Had they been separated from her for weeks? Had she never received an award? I kind of doubt that was the case. Were they filming a documentary about Awards in the Western Hemisphere? I just don’t know. But it was nuts. And there was a 1-year-old who wanted to be with his sister during all of this. Pass the baby over the chairs. Baby walking back around. Baby getting up, baby sitting back down. Baby being passed over the chairs again.
Immediately to my right were The Wavers. Lots and lots of crazy waving at a set of twins that were in the same class winning identical awards. I’m just kidding. I have no idea what kinds of awards they won. I was in a coma by the time they got called up.
Even more interesting than what was going on in the chair-seated audience was what was going on among the standing-room-only set. These people were to my left. An interesting point–which seems obvious, but apparently isn’t–that should be made to this category of people is this: Even though you aren’t seated, we can still see you. And hear you. And oddly enough, the same rules of etiquette for a formal awards ceremony actually do apply to you.
Remember the dude I so awkwardly introduced myself to on the Boggy Bottom campout? James? Well, he was there, among the Standers. And unbeknownst to me, he also has a 1-yr-old. Jimmy was up front getting an award. Jimmy’s little brother was over-the-top proud of him. He was waving his arms and squawking wildly. And before I could even shake my head in disdain, that kid was running down the side aisle and jumping up on his brother. Typically we just stick with applause for these things, little Jimmy Junior. But maybe flesh piling is okay, too. I can’t believe I ever made my own children sit in the chairs quietly…
Also among the Standers was my son’s teacher. She had been sitting with her class until Telson started getting a little out of control. I’ve heard about Telson. That’s like Nelson, with a T. Why don’t we do that with more names? If Nelson is good, why not Telson? Or Flelson? Or Yelson? Really. Why waste a perfectly good combination of vowels and consonants? Like Mark. That’s a good strong name. Why not Gark? Or Jark? Tark. I’m just saying. Anyway, back to Telson. He was sitting criss-cross applesauce (I cannot believe I just allowed myself to type that) at the teacher’s feet. Not 2 minutes into that “time-out”, a very scary dude walked up. One can only assume that was Telson’s dad. He wanted to know why Telson was over there in a time-out. The teacher began to explain and he began to argue with her, as quietly as he could. I couldn’t hear actual words, because of the documentary on How to Have Babies and Take Pictures at Awards Ceremonies that was going on right next to me. But I could see expressions. The teacher was holding her own, which was impressive, because I gotta tell you: This dude was big and intimidating. The crowd couldn’t have saved her, if it were to come to that. But it wasn’t the teacher who was in danger. It became immediately clear that the person who should be, and was, trembling was Telson. He got very still, almost like he was suddenly over-medicated. His eyes were big and round and frightened. The whole scene, which had seemed amusing at first, was beginning to make me feel sad.
When would the celebration of young lives and intellect end?
It did. In the chaos of people filing out, I saw Louisa standing alone outside the cafeteria looking as if she was on the verge of tears. She had lost my son’s class. I can see how that happened. It was a zoo in there. I took her hand, led her around to the first grade wing, and then I high-tailed it to the parking lot faster than I have ever high-tailed it before. I took a deep breath, blew it out much more loudly than was necessary, and walked to my car thinking of good replacements for the name Luke.
Huke. Gruke. Snuke. As I did this I realized all the rhymes with difficulties of this name. With Nuke, Fluke, and Puke in there, it would never have passed the Snapp Names Screening.
But unless we find a little tiny baby in a basket on our doorstep with a note addressed directly to us by name — spelled correctly and on linen stationary (this was all I could get Todd to agree to), there won’t be any more to name. And if the Awards Ceremonies are all going to be like that one, maybe I’m okay with this.