Monday, May 18, 2009

Weekend Catchup: Elitch's and Suburban Life

Oh hi!

Did you have a nice weekend?

Mine was not the hell I was expecting, you'll be glad (I'm sure) to know... Elitch's ended up being fairly fun, although a tad disorganized.

You know how I hate that.

Going to Elitch's was all part of the Trills and Thrills Festival, in which my daughter's school's 7th/8th grade orchestra (which she is personally in) and 8th grade band participated. They ROCKED THE HOUSE I have to tell you... they got a "superior" rating and a lovely plaque! They didn't even get any criticism from the judges! It was week 3 of the festival, and the judge on stage said "We've seen a lot of orchestras this month and you guys are absolutely one of the best."

The festival was held at an inner-city high school in Denver, and it really brought home how very suburban it is where we live. I went to an inner-city high school in Chicago, and so I know the smells of bleach and the look of industrial walls and old crumbly bathrooms. They feel like home to me, but they are absolutely foreign to the children where I live; I had to explain to more than one kid who asked me if it was a prison or military school that *most* schools are not new - they just got lucky. A couple of them were also really shocked to see an advertisement for a Teen Parenting class (I heard them discussing whether or not it was experimental, as in a Home Ec cart-the-bag-of-flour-around assignment, vs. being for actual teens who are raising kids); it's just not something that had occurred to many of them I guess, although I know that teen parents crop up in the 'burbs too... maybe they're just more sheltered from it. It really speaks to the social divisions between a big city and towns that are so removed from said metropolis.

It got me thinking about how very at home I felt though though, and I suddenly realized that these were the Naperville kids. When I was in high school, occassionally we'd host some sort of something that invited school groups from all over the state to show up, and to us it was always so exotic to see groups from Naperville or Glen Ellyn or wherever showing up... they went to these big clean schools, we knew from our own travels, and lived in towns without apartment buildings. It made me realize that we were absolutely as exotic to them as they were to us.

Just a thought that rolled through my head - no great revelation, just that suddenly I'm one of the Naperville parents.

So once that was done we loaded up the busses again and headed off to Elitch's, Land Of Overpriced Funnel Cake (8 bucks, I'm not kidding). I sort of liked the idea of having the kids be handed a ticket and told "be here at 3:45 or we're leaving you here" because nothing spurs responsibility like the threat of your parents having to drive an hour to come and get you because you were slacking.

However, they're still just kids. 12 and 13 and 14 year olds are not known for their high responsibility factor. Granted, there's only one way in or out of Elitch's (short of launching yourself from the Tower of Doom with a parachute), and the chances of someone snatching a kid by force are minimal since you can't even just walk out a door to leave, you have to go through a gate where someone is watching you leave and stamps your hand and stuff, but still.

As I mentioned last week, I went with to facilitate kids bringing lunch instead of their parents having to take second mortgages on their houses so their kids could get hot dogs. This went fairly well, although surprisingly only 10 kids brought their lunches out of 80 that went. I'm convinced this was because their teacher didn't actually send out a memo to the parents offering the option, after the initial email stating you had to bring money since you can't bring food into Elitch's. She left it to the kids to bring lunch from home IF THEY WANTED, and frankly not many kids will say "no no Mom & Dad, don't give me 40 bucks to blow on crappy food and candy, I'll just bring this here soggy bologna instead". Kuddos to the kids who were frugal, but you know if she had sent an email out there would have been easily twice as many once parents knew this was an option!

Things went fairly well, the kids all showed up save 2 (I kept a list so I'd know if I had everyone). The 2 that didn't were eventually located, none the worse for wear, but I was nervous all the same. As it turned out, one left early with his parents - so why bring a lunch I ask you - and one was late and didn't remember to call me and just ended up eating with her friends who had money. I felt better after I knew what happened to them!

In trying to actually get to the lunches, I had to rely on the boldness of children to try the cargo doors on the bus since (despite me telling them we were coming at noon for lunch) the bus drivers were nowhere to be found. They had cleverly left he bins UNLOCKED which would be fine except that hello I would like my coolers to not be stolen thanks! Not to mention the 2 large-dollar pieces of orchestra equipment that were *also* in the bin. Do you know how much a cello costs? A lot, that's how much.

Everyone else seemed unconcerned, so although I had every intention of sitting there babysitting the buses, I finally decided they're insured and if they're going to be dumb and leave these things unlocked that's not my fault. You know how I said I have to solve everything? This was one of those times, and I really struggled with feeling responsible, but I finally decided I was *not* going to sit in a parking lot for 3 hours on a glorious day.

I got 3 square inches of sunburn but that's not bad considering I couldn't actually access my sunblock, which was locked in the bus. Sunblock and backpacks = very important, but $3,000 basses, not so much. Now I know!

We really did have fun at the park, although I still think they're horribly overpriced and felt a little bad that I couldn't get all the fun stuff for the kid that she would have liked like funnel cake and a stupid hat, but she was unfazed by this. She did manage to get a $5 prize at one of the sucker-booths, one of the easy ones where they "guess your weight/age/birth month" and always lose, and you get a prize. You feel like you pulled one over on them, they get your 5 dollars, and your kid gets a pillow that looks like a demented pink Dia de los Muertos skull. Everybody wins!

Now you know. Make a note of it!

We were pretty tired so Saturday night we both knocked out early, and spent Sunday nursing our tiny sunburns and making cupcakes for dessert at the neighbors... the kid will be babysitting 2 days a week during July for the neighbor's 9 year old son, so we wanted to touch base and she loves to cook, so voila. Dinner!

Last but not least, I saw this in Walgreens, and although I personally LOVE me some Twilight, this went a bit too far even for my tchotchke-lovin' ass.

Click to see it larger... just so you can see the messages on the conversation hearts. Really, you need to.

Have a great week!

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