Craig and I went to Jack’s school Field Day yesterday. It was a gorgeous spring day in the South – clear blue skies, temps in the low 80s. I strapped Craig into the ergo baby carrier, put a blanket over his exposed skin (but failed to put sunblock on my own . . . DUH), and we trooped all over the athletic fields of Jack’s little school, watching kids frolic and compete and have a blast.
I love Jack’s school. This Field Day was well-organized, fun, an important day of exercise and competition and enjoyment, despite the academic pressure to study for standardized tests. (DOWN WITH COMMON CORE! But that’s another post for another day.)
The kids all divided up by grade, and started the day with a fun run. Fifth grade boys ran first, then fifth grade girls, then fourth grade boys, and on and on down until kindergarten was last. The other children were permitted to mill about on the field and cheer each other on, but the kindergarten classes had to be contained on the bleachers. They had a DJ and huge speakers blasting fun and very loud music. Craig fussed a bit, but I held his ears and moved away from the noise, and he simmered down.
The children had clearly been coached on How to Be A Good Sport. They solemnly lectured me on the following important truths, truths that each child independently recited verbatim: “It doesn’t matter if you win or lose;” “The only important thing is to have fun;” “We cheer for every team.” It was super cute, and the coaching apparently worked, because nobody cried about losing and nobody crowed when they won. This is a big deal especially for our Jack, who has traditionally been THE WORST when we play family board games. He was great on this day . . . I think our brainwashing (and his teacher’s), plus the maturity of being Almost Six, have all worked in tandem to create a pretty good sport where once there was a little brat flipping over the gameboard in fury when he lost.
After the fun run, we had a snack in the shade of a dogwood tree (all set out and ready for us in a labeled area of the playing field, which is a pretty big organizational accomplishment when you have about 40 different classrooms that all need their ice chests dragged to various spots right on time). Then each grade level rotated through several different relay games set up in different areas of the fields. I.e. each class lines up at a starting line. When the starting gun goes off, the first kid throws on some pool floaties, runs across the field to run twice around a cone, then comes back and transfers the floaties to the next kid in line. That sort of thing.
One of the rotations was a free play in an area full of bouncy castles and inflatable slides. The kids took off their shoes and lined them up against the fence, then ran around the orange dirt in their socks, getting completely filthy and having a blast. Craig and I defected to the dugout during this one, getting some shade and a much-needed nap. I chatted to Jack’s classmate’s grandma, who had just married off her daughter and showed me dozens of pictures of the wedding and told me happily all about the glorious day.
I tried to do the perfect blend of supervising, and also hanging back and letting the kids just be themselves on a fun day. It was really a special thing to be a fly on the wall and watch Jack interact with his classmates. As has been true in every one of his classes so far, Jack is really popular and well-liked. Kids want to sit by him, kids hug him and joke with him, and he is really kind to them all. They have fun. This makes my heart sing, it really does. You can measure a person’s happiness by the quality of his friendships – and by that measure, Jack is a pretty happy boy. He’s good at making friends, good at being a friend, and I just love knowing that.
Another Mr. Popular on this particular day was Craig. The children ADORED him, all of them. They tickled his feet, rubbed his head, stroked his little legs (poking out of the baby carrier I wore him in for most of the day). Eventually, when my lower back was on fire from carrying him, I went to the car to get the car-seat and put him in that. I set him on the ground, and he was like an industrial strength magnet, pulling all of the children towards him. He’s a trooper and didn’t mind at all, he’s used to being manhandled by his brothers.
Anyway, we had a great time. I’ve enjoyed my little taste of being a stay at home mom. I’ve never had any qualms about working as a lawyer, and I still don’t. But this little three month lark has been fun. I imagine SAHMs would enjoy the odd day when they leave the kids with a babysitter, put on professional clothes, and go do something totally adult, like take a class, attend a meeting of a charitable organization they volunteer for, freelance . . . (Whether they get to do these things with any regularity is another question, but my point is I think they’d like to, at least once in a while. Or at least I would, in their shoes.) Similarly, I’ve enjoyed hanging up the suits for a bit and seeing what life is like when I can go to every elementary school function and support the teacher, when I get to hang with the boys as soon as they get home from school – when my whole, sole job is to take care of these chitlins and this house. It was a nice little window into that alternate life. I don’t pine for it, and I don’t feel guilty that my kids don’t have a stay-at-home parent . . . but I did enjoy playing at it for a little while.
And now, we are on the down slope to the end of the year. Jack’s about to be a first grader, Liam is entering preK 4. What a fun time of life for us, what a blast. Love my boys.