Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Festival of Tears

My kids go to the local elementary school, and they love it!

It's a great school. They look forward to going every day. (They're even sad on weekends when they can't go to school.) They learn all kinds of things at school, such as reading, writing, math, science, friendships, and, apparently, that life is full of bitter disappointment. Let me explain.

This week is Dr. Seuss week at the elementary school. It's a fun week when they celebrate reading with all kinds of fun activities. (Today is "Green Eggs and Ham Day," Tomorrow is "Who Hair Day," and so forth.) And the whole thing started off with a Dr. Seuss-themed "Family Literacy Night" on Monday evening. There were games, activities, prizes, and tears. (Lots and lots of tears.)

I took my two oldest kids, The Girl (2nd grade), and The Boy (kindergarten), to the reading festival. We went from room to room and had a lot of fun. They played Dr. Seuss bingo. (The Girl got a bingo and won a Good Dinosaur poster!) They made some crafts, with some help from me. (And with me getting some help from one of the teachers, because I'm not very crafty.) They got prizes at the One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish fish pond. They played "pin the hat on the cat." They had a great time!

Yes, it was all fun and games (literally) until the tears started.

The big finale of the festival was the prize giveaway. They had a couple of tables full of some pretty good kid prizes (stuffed animals, Frozen art sets, sidewalk chalk, etc.) Every kid was given a raffle ticket. Then the teacher in charge would read off a number, and if the kid had that number they would win a prize. They had a lot of prizes, probably between 50 and 100. Unfortunately, there are a lot more than 100 kids that attend the school.

The Girl with her ticket. (Before the despair.)
It started out well. The teacher would read a number and the kids would excitedly look at their ticket to see if it matched. They were giddy in anticipation. But, after the first twenty or so numbers were read, the giddiness started to wane. The teacher spent about 15 minutes reading off numbers. About 10 minutes into it, the Girl's best friend was one of the first to start crying. (Second grade bff's are pretty fun to watch. Even though they had just seen each other at school earlier in the day, when they saw each other at the festival they had to hug several times as if they had been apart for years.)

Before long, both of my kids had joined in and it was officially a festival of tears. When the teacher announced the final number, the small gymnasium was full of weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth.
No mention of the tears.
As we walked to the car I worried that I might need a canoe to navigate my way through the river of tears that was flowing through the school hallways. Kids of all genders, ages, and sizes were leaving the festival in tears. (I was a bit relieved that it wasn't just my kids.)

I tried to console them. The, "Hey, life is full of disappointment. You're going to have to get used to it. Every year when the Vikings lose in the playoffs I have to deal with disappointment," speech I gave them fell on deaf ears. (No one pities a poor Minnesota Vikings fan.)

I reminded them of the fun they had had earlier in the evening, and they eventually calmed down.

So, I'm grateful for the school. It's a place of learning, a place of fun, and a place of despair. (Who knows, maybe after a couple more festivals the kids will be ready to watch a Vikings playoff game with me.)

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