Saturday, February 2, 2013

Day 230 and 231 - kid's stuff

Guess who went to the beach today?

I haven't been getting enough exercise lately because I've had so many little extra things going on: palliative care dinner, Ellie's school, Ellie's field trip, Ellie's hair shop appointments, my haircut etc. Wait, Ellie's hair shop appointments? Yes, Ellie now is a redhead:
First she got a bright pink streak in the underside which she enjoyed, but it was too subtle so she went back a week later and now no one can accuse her of being subtle. She normally wears it off her face and looks very pretty. She had it done Thursday after school so yesterday was the first day her pals saw it. The reviews were positive from her peers too.

I went in Friday morning to help teach "literary circles" to Ellie's class. The kids are divided up into groups of six and had read about a third of a pre-determined book. Everyone has a job: newspaper reporter, artists eye, interviewer, etc. and they presented to me and each other. My job was to keep the conversation on track and to let them know if things weren't making sense to me. The newspaper reporter went first and gave an account of the plot as though it was a newspaper article. The interviewer went next and asked everyone questions like "On page 94, some one is sent to the principal's office for calling the math teacher a weirdo. What do you think would happen if you called Mrs. Loh a weirdo?" or "What would you have done in Harris' situation on page 104?" The kids had lots of interesting things to say. One group read a book that was about a city person going to live on a farm for the summer. As we discussed the book, it became clear that we had a child who lived on a farm and the rest of the group lived in town. The kid from the farming family had different ideas than the rest of us about some of the stuff in the book. We all thought the part where he made a diorama and dressed the figurines in mouse pelts was disgusting, but the girl whose family had a farm didn't really think it was. I tried to relate the themes in the book to how the real life situation of us in this group right now, but it didn't fly. The good news is that Ellie tells me her friends who had me thought that I was "nice" and did a good job. Phew! I'm glad to hear I didn't embarrass her.

Then I went home and napped to prepare for the evening. At 4:15, Ellie and I and 98 or so other people climbed on a bus and went to Boston to see "Sister Act" and have dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe. There were about 70 kids and about 30 adults in two buses. The ride was unbelievably loud and from time to time, the kids would break out into song. It turns out that Hard Rock Cafe is also unbelievably loud and from time to time, the kids would break out into song, but not as much. I was surprised that when Justin Beiber (who is reviled in my family) came on, a lot of kids sang along--maybe half boys. Hunh. They had a very limited menu that we could choose from (it was a whole packaged field trip deal), but perfectly adequate for a field trip meal and they served us so fast, it was amazing. We were out in time, back on the buses and driving through congested theater district Boston. I felt badly for the cars around us because when the light changed, for the whole cycle all that happened was that our bus and the other bus went through. Block after block. Then we got there, went in, got into seats which were in the second balcony and waited for the show. I had gotten separated from Ellie and her pals so ended up sitting isolated with some people I didn't know at all. There was a lot of complaining from people who felt like they were going to pitch forward and fall all the way down, but of course, nothing like was going to happen. The show was OK. There seems to be a fashion now in singing to hold long notes out just a speck flat and then slide into the actual pitch right at the end of the five seconds you are holding it out. The female and male leads as well as the "bad guy" all did this and it got tiresome. The kids liked it although none of them really seemed to love it which surprised me. None of the songs were reconstructed in the bus on the way home either.

I don't know where our buses parked during the show, but it must have been very far away because the theater closed and the literally had us leave. There we were, all 100 of us waiting on the sidewalk for the buses, some of the kids without coats because when you are 13 or 14, if you don't want to wear a coat, you don't even if it is 25 degrees out. After we'd been standing around for about twenty minutes, a homeless man came up and told us he had just been diagnosed with HIV and had a bed at a drug rehab in Springfield, but didn't have bus money to get there. Could we give him money for the bus? It felt horrible because by ignoring him, one is not teaching the kids anything about compassion or generosity, but by engaging him, one is not teaching the kids anything about keeping oneself safe. On the other hand, just giving him money is not a good solution either especially if you imagine having provided him with the twenty bucks that he bought his fatal dose of heroin with. So, the whole problem of homelessness writ small and bitesized for us relatively rich and sheltered suburban folks and my response was found wanting, as was all of ours.

Eventually the buses came and I was so tired I fell asleep on the way home even though they were unbelievably loud and the kids would break into song from time to time.

Today except for the beach was beautifully dull. For tomorrow, I will hope for myself similar beautiful dullness. For you, I will hope for the level of interest you would like.


  1. Mary have you tried D squared in Exeter for a latte or coffee? A fellow by the name Dan Demers (hence, D squared - former math teacher). Best latte on the seacoast. Coffee always freshly roasted within past two weeks. Blows Starbucks, Me and Ollie's and everyone else out of the water. Quaint atmosphere as well. I know you frequent a lot of Exeter establishments so here is another for you. Enjoy!

  2. Yes, I actually go there quite a lot, especially with my friend Patrick who is a regular there. I enjoy their mochas, light on the syrup because they are not at all too sweet, just sweet enough. I agree about the atmosphere too; it's nice to just sit and read one's mail there.