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Monday, May 03, 2010  

Schooled Carnival

With M. Edium officially starting kindergarten in the fall, we've got his possible schools narrowed down to two. One is a highly ranked school in a highly ranked district and is six blocks away. The other is more highly ranked in a more highly ranked district, but is six miles away. So it's a tossup, and if we go with one, we can't switch back to the other, or even back to the other districts when he gets older. So the choice affects which middle school he goes to, and which high school, and which college, and which officer training school, and his ability to get into NASA and become a Space Shuttle pilot like he wants to when he grows up. Already we're in danger of ruining his life. The fact that the Shuttle only has a few missions left before it's permanently retired only adds to the pressure.

In an attempt to rise to this pressure, Trash agreed to work at the annual school carnival at one of these schools last week. She thought it best to show an interest and support the school community just in case that's where he ends up, especially in light of the increasingly desperate and personalized requests for help that were turning up in her inbox. Messages that began with "Dear Occupant, please consider volunteering a couple of hours of your time" evolved over a matter of days into, "Dear Trash Q. Alexander: Decades ago, when your mother was struggling to raise you and your two younger siblings as a single mom, they didn't need you as much as we need you now. We look forward to seeing you in room 201 at 7:00 PM sharp, and maybe you could wear that tan sweater and put on a little makeup. It won't kill you."

She was up for it, but any hope she had that she might use this as an opportunity to network with some faculty and other moms proved a vain one, as she was posted at the "Duck Pond" event. What this was is a game where a dozen or so rubber ducks floated in an inch of water in a long, low plastic storage bin of the type you fill with tax documents (or a human being, if you're on Law & Order: Sex Police) and then stuff under your bed. Some of the ducks had a red circle inked in the bottom in marker. If you picked up one of the red-circle ducks, you got a prize. If you picked up an unmarked duck, you got to try again until you got one, and then you got a prize.

As you might imagine, this was a popular attraction at the carnival among the younger set, even those who, unlike M. Edium, did not also get a kiss from the pretty carny at every visit. M. Edium and I circulated the carnival as much as I could convince him to, but he kept gravitating back to the Duck Pond. And his mom.

But that was partly because she couldn't come to him. She was stuck in that room for an hour and a half, a preschooler-sized chair holding up about three-fourths of her adult-sized keister, and never got more than a thirty-second break between players, not even counting M. Edium. I tried to get her some food from the cafeteria, but wasn't allowed to carry anything out (although I did sneak past the "no food or drink past this point" enforcer with a bag of chips), which meant I got to sit down and watch M. Edium take his time putting away a Slider and a Dilly Bar for about a half hour.

Trash's shift ended and her game closed down at 8:30 p.m,, but M. Edium closed down closer to 8:15. At that point, he stubbornly stationed himself at his mom's side to supply "tips" to other players and be near her. I probably could have pried him away, but it would have required physical force and a bit of screaming, and M. Edium wouldn't have been quiet either. We just didn't want it that bad, and I had a bunch of tickets left that I needed to go try and burn in the cafeteria. I stuffed down a pair of hot dogs as fast as I could. I didn't have water to wash it down, but the mustard was runny enough to be the next best thing.

At 8:30, I helped Trash carry her Rubbermaid duck pond over to the classroom sink to dump it down the drain. But M. Edium wanted a drink from it. There are times when Trash and I have to look at each other before we give M. Edium permission to do something. This time, we were in perfect sync as we thought of all the thousands of tiny fingers that had been thrust into that water in the last ninety minutes, and we said, as one, "No!"

Clearly I hadn't realized how thirsty he'd gotten, so we immediately decided to find him a refreshment that would be a little less germ-ridden. Like a nice, fresh urinal cake to suck on.

posted by M. Giant 9:31 AM 2 comments


Sorry to be nerdy and slightly obsessive, and I hope you won't mind this comment, but I was wondering if you'd thought of looking up the individual science teachers M. Medium might have in each district, and using them as some sort of metric for comparison. Obviously there's bound to be turnover, but far more than "highly rated district" or "highly rated school" sometimes it's that one amazing teacher you had in junior high that turned classroom chairs on their backs to simulate rockets launching and brought rocks in to class so you could actually see and feel them instead of just reading about them that has the real impact on a kid. By "a kid" I specifically mean me, but I can't be the only one who made it as a scientist despite coming from a semi-crummy school due to a couple of amazing teachers.

By Anonymous MAL, at May 3, 2010 at 10:17 AM  

Great idea, MAL. We'll do that! (or Trash will)

By Blogger M. Giant, at May 3, 2010 at 10:48 AM  

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