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Yellow Ice and Hula Hoops: The School Holiday Program

Updated on August 31, 2017

Today was a special one for me. It was my 10th year in a row of dragging my sorry carcass from home and/or work (depending on the year), only to cram myself into a hot, sweaty, overcrowded auditorium to witness one or more of my children's precious holiday programs. Fah-la-la-la-la....

I know, we all do it. And you're always glad that you did go. But in my 10 years of enduring -er, experiencing- these things, really nothing has changed.

The Annual Expectation:


Vs. The Actual Experience:


Let's begin with the ultra-convenient scheduling. Having attended these events at several different grade schools over the years, I've encountered a few different approaches. There's the simple two showings, morning and afternoon, attend whichever you can. This one isn't too bad. The biggest downside is choosing the latter, only to be kicking yourself for not getting it over with earlier in the day. The upside is grabbing your kid and leaving afterward, saving you a trip back at the end of the day.

Another option I've seen is having grandparents and extended family attend one showing, then parents and immediate family at the other. This one is so stupid, I don't even need to elaborate. I will look you right in the eye and tell you that I'm these children's grandmother if that's the showing I need to attend. And I dare you to call me on it.

The third alternative I've experienced is assigning families a showing by segregating us alphabetically. My personal favorite attempt at this method was "A through Mc at 9am; Md through Z at 1pm". No joke. McDumb.

Regardless of when you attend, you're always forced to listen to the principal basically guilt-tripping you into staying for the entire program. To add insult to injury, they arrange the whole dang program in a manner that makes it impossible to attempt and show up just for your child's program. There's no way to guesstimate when to arrive based on grade level, nor can you attempt to appease your boss with an estimated time of return. This is because they'll start with third grade, toss in the fifth grade orchestra, then second grade, then maybe some awards. Next, maybe we'll see the fifth grade band, then the band with the orchestra, then fourth grade. Next we'll have kindergarten, followed by a heartfelt speech by that retiring teacher whose been with the school since the beginning of time (you know, around the time this whole program started). Finally, the first graders take the stage, followed by the fifth graders, who are just as thrilled to be up there as we are to still be here.

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..."Humans are weird."

But let's talk about the program itself. The children are definitely cute. Particularly the kindergartners (although there is something extra sweet about whichever class goes LAST). I don't know if anyone else has ever noticed this, but more years than not, either first grade or kindergarten busts-out that old classic, "Christmas Don't Be Late," made famous by Alvin and the Chipmunks. We've all heard it a million times. We all know what to expect. Yet still, every time that one cute kid steps forward to scream-sing that one line- "Me, I want a huuuuuuuula-hoop!!!" accompanied by wild (and perhaps slightly inappropriate?) pelvic thrusting -we all collectively coo and sigh, maybe even clap. Yeah, we're not setting these kids up for unrealistic future expectations at all, are we? Don't think I'm the devil! That kid is always adorable, and I also "Awwww," and "Oooo," at them. But it is kind of ridiculous. Humans are weird.

"...the more people that congregate in one place, the higher the likelihood of encountering morons and douche bags."

Once the fun is all over and done, you have to pay the karmic tax for your sweet, sweet freedom. Again, you have options. With any luck at all, you simply fight your way out of the auditorium as quickly as possible. Asses and elbows, folks, every man for themselves! Those of us who are less fortunate have one, maybe more children we have to (...get to?) take home. So, we fight our way against the grain, toward each of their collective classrooms. The goal is always to grab and go! But if you lock eyes with that teacher, uncomfortable, if not completely insincere conversation and praise is the mandatory social protocol.

Once you do make it out of the school itself, the real cluster-fudge begins. I don't know about your children's schools, but my kids' school tries to expand parking as much as possible. This is done by opening-up the blacktop for parking. I'm sure it is super-convenient for the first handful of people to actually arrive. But then, life happens. Well, people happen. It's simple math: The more people that congregate in one place, the higher the likelihood of encountering morons and douche bags. No matter how cute the kids, a certain percentage of them were definitely spawned by total mud whistles. And you find yourself surrounded by them, perhaps even becoming one of them. Everyone battles to get out of this feces-shower as quickly as possible, leading to chaos, disorder and delays.

Wait For It!


Remember that karmic tax I mentioned earlier? This year, I was pulling it off, man! I sat through the show, managed to hustle my way to the kids' classrooms in record time, completely flew under the radar of each of their teachers, and bolted outside. I got to the blacktop/makeshift parking lot and over half of the cars were already gone!! I zeroed-in on my vehicle, a child's hand in each of mine, and bee-lined, all the while completely ignoring the fact that there was ice everywhere, yet very little salt. Also ignoring the fun fact that I am a terminal klutz, as are my children.

About halfway to the van, I feel the 5 year old begin to slip and weigh me down, but I manage to keep him on his feet. A few feet later, I feel the 9 year old buckling and she grabs my arm with both hands until regaining her balance. Finally, I get them into their seats, shut the doors, make my way around to the driver's side (chuckling to myself in congratulations for being so awesome), and WHAM! I reached for the door handle, hit a patch of ice, and it was over. There I lay, flat on my back. Everything throbbing, ego bruised.

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I finally gathered myself to my feet. I could feel moisture seeping-through my white lab coat. "Ugh, please don't be dingy, PLEASE don't be dirty," I remember thinking. I pulled it off, turned it around and it wasn't dingy at all. It was freaking yellow!! Of all of the frozen puddles and sheets of ice coating this forsaken surface, I found the YELLOW one!! Because, of course I did. Why wouldn't I?

It all made up for such a fantastic experience, that even though I began writing this story the day following the program, I haven't been able to bring myself to finish it until now. FYI, it's mid-August. That means in approximately four months, I'll once again be cooing at a kid screaming about hula hoops, and keeping an eagle eye out for yellow ice.

© 2017 Katie Keesecker


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