Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Please do NOT throw Hula Hoops at the Roof

Due to ongoing parental troop needs in my son's kindergarten class, and failure to meet recruiting goals, I was called up for duty at the final event of the year. This was something that had to be dreamed up by someone who spent too much time in a bubble bath. It was called (ominously) "Splash Day." Kindergarteners splash by nature. If more than one molecule containing oxygen and two hydrogens band together, you can count on kindergarteners excitedly gathering around the resulting puddle shouting, "Let's jump!" They can create puddles out of anything: tipped over juice boxes, random sponges, diverted water fountains. It doesn't matter. So you can imagine the anticipation Splash Day caused in this shoelace-untied crowd. We parental conscripts were ordered to the grassy area beyond the school. First thing we were told by some parent (who, incidentally, did not look anything like a horticulturist), is that the area "may" be infested by some sort of mystery plant that we would be advised to stay away from. I forget what it was allegedly called: Japanese Stinging Nettles? Blushing Poison Ivy Relative? Subtle Deadly Snake Grass? No one knew what it looked like or what exactly its effects were. I made a mental note to call 911 if any of the children started swelling. Meanwhile we worked on the "stations" at which the children would soon be playing Olympic-style water games. Yes! Water games. And no one had a bathing suit. Although everyone had towels. I was assigned a group of seven kindergarteners, one of whom was my son. Here are some of the games and problems we encountered as we tried to play them: 1) Soggy Tee Ball: I violated the spirit of the whole day by suggesting we keep the cloth balls dry. 2) Bubbles Galore: Using massive wands and buckets of soapy water, we covered the school grounds and parking lot in a resplendent sticky film. Not all the wands were exactly the same size or shape, so naturally they fought over the "best" ones. 3) Water Basketball: The children tossed a giant plastic kickball through two hula hoops into a wading pool. One of my kindergartners shortly kicked the ball onto the roof of the school. He later attempted to retrieve it by throwing hula hoops after it, until I intervened. 4) Sponge Relay: Teams had to race each other to see who could be the first to empty their jar of water by wringing a sponge into the opposite jar. Much sloshing and cheating ensued. 5) Frog Hop: Originally slated for the sidewalk, this event was mercifully relocated to grass when we calculated the odds of children slipping on the wet "lily pads" (placemats). 6) Magnetic Fishing: Complete with magnet-laden fish and poles. Four poles, seven kids. Egads! Those who were impatiently awaiting their turn I entertained with fish stories. Meanwhile two of my kindergarteners got their lines hopelessly tangled. I hoped parents and teachers were not noticing our trail of carange as we left each game worse off than we found it. 7) Ring Toss: My son was the only one who kept score. The rest tried to make the biggest splash in the wading pool. 8) Sand Box: At last! No water was involved. Just hand-to-hand combat over the "best shovel." 9) Cookie Creations: Frost your own cookies and add colored sugar sprinkles! The fire ants were thrilled, to say the least. I am sure if my son remembers anything of his kindergarten career, he will have fond memories of Splash Day. I will NOT have games involving water at any upcoming birthday parties. We never did figure out if the Evil Plants were present, but if a rash appears I will know what to blame.

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