Friday the kids had an amazing event at the school -- Field Day. When I was growing up my schools didn't engage in this activity so I had no preconceived notions. I imagined there would be potato sack races, some assorted relays, and a good amount of goofing off. A request was made by the PE teacher for volunteers, so I threw my name into the proverbial hat. I was told to check in at 8:30 on the day of the event.
When I arrived at the school I was amazed. The entire perimeter of the school (and this is a school that houses 700 kids!) was set-up with booths. There were Field Day 2008 tattoo stations, Popsicle rest areas, bubbles, music, and an abundance of water games, relay races, and obstacle courses. There was also a huge sidewalk chalk mural waiting to be filled in by the kids. I especially liked the sidewalk mural. As each child passed through this station they decorated and personalized a square within a larger grid of squares. The finished product was great.
Each individual area was clearly outlined, stocked with supplies, and ready for a parent volunteer to jump in and take it over. I have to admit that I got a little tingle of excitement -- military-caliber organization with a side of fun and games makes me one happy mommy! I enjoy volunteering at the school and do quite a bit of it, but this looked as though it was going to be even better than normal. I walked happily to the check-in area and received my assignment: The Sneaker Hunt.
In order to understand the procession of the rest of the day let me start by explaining how Field Day works as well as the rules of the Sneaker Hunt. Field Day lasts from 9:00-12:30. Children participate with the kids from their individual classrooms. An air horn sounds at 10 minute intervals, and the groups move concentrically through the stations. So far so good. Clearly defined parameters, timed events, articulated objectives; I was getting getting happier by the minute.
The premise of the Sneaker Hunt is simple. You divide the class into two teams. Everyone removes their shoes and throws the shoes into a pile. The shoes are randomly divided into two buckets that are placed 15 yards away. The kids run one at a time to the buckets, find one of their shoes, put it on, and then run back and tag the next person. The process repeats itself so that each person has their original two shoes back on their feet, and whichever team finishes first wins.
As I begin tweaking my station for maximum efficiency (yes, I know I have a problem) I quickly become aware that I am smack dab in the middle of the field with no shade - anywhere. To add insult to injury it was supposed to push 90 degrees, and I didn't wear sunscreen. Undaunted, I watched as my first group of kids approached. The relay went well, and the kids thought it was great fun. As the day slowly progressed I started doing a little shtick about smelly feet and stinky shoes, and the kids seemed to think I was pretty funny. Apparently, these are some highly intelligent kids.
About an hour or so into the event (I also forgot my watch) I commented to the mommy working the station next to me that I was looking forward to being relieved by the next shift. She looked at me strangely, and told me that there was no next shift. It seems I didn't realize that the volunteers were committing to the entire four hour window. So I hunkered down to fulfill my obligation. I also added a bottle of cold water to the list of the many items I didn't bring with me.
A little more than half way through the day my shtick about the smelly feet became a reality. Hot day + hot kids + running around = smelly feet. One child shared proudly that his feet smelled "extra stinky" because he doesn't like to wear socks with this his shoes, and he wasn't kidding. His mother must be thrilled. At this point I started making the kids put their own shoes in the buckets. Nowhere in the rules did it say that the mommy volunteer has to touch the smelly shoes.
Fortunately, the modification to the plan worked. The stench of ripe feet only assaulted me occasionally now. I shuffled a few more groups through and began to notice that my shoulders were tender. Stupid sunscreen. Oh well, at least I was in the final stretch.
Then came the kindergartners. The kindergartners were hot and tired, but completely excited to be there. I spend at least two hours a week in each of the kindergarten classes (because that is where Abby and Emily are!) so the kids and I were even more excited because we knew each other well. The children laughed extra loud at my well honed smelly feet routine. We were all excited to be together, and and we began the relay with enthusiasm. It pretty much went straight downhill from there. Let me just bullet point some of the problems:
- Mommies with good intentions tied their kids' shoes extra tight, with monster knots. And with good reason; you don't want little Johnnie tripping over his shoe laces and face planting in the middle of Field Day. Half the kiddos couldn't get their shoes off of their feet!
- Kindergartners (even mine) have the smelliest feet of all.
- Kindergartners can't tie their shoes quickly, and sometimes they can't tie their shoes at all.
- Kindergartners are very particular. They do not like grass inside their shoes. They do not like their shoes tied with specific knots. They become immobile when they feel their standards have been compromised.
- Kindergartners are not attentive to details. Some of the little angels had put shoes on that did not belong to them.
So the horn sounded, and the next group - also kindergartners - starts to file in. So here is the problem. I have my original group with their shoes half off because we didn't finish the relay. I am trying to sort out which shoes belong to which kids, make sure shoes are on the correct feet, tie shoes, pull the tongue up from the bottom of shoes so that kids can actually fit their feet back in, and just generally trying to get everyone moving to the next station. In the midst of this the next group of kindergartners comes in and takes their shoes off (without being asked) and tosses them into the mix. It's part of the game, right?! Oh, and apparently, lots of us mommies shop at the same store, too, because lots of kids have the same shoes! Now there is even more confusion as to which shoe belongs to which kid. Large numbers of adults were summoned, and the crisis was averted, but sheesh. I got completely worked over by a bunch of kindergartners.
By the end of the day I was hungry, thirsty, sunburned and tired. I would do it again in a heartbeat!! The kids had soooo much fun, and I had more fun than they did.