Tonight was “Parents Night Out” at Elliot’s school, which meant you could pay a small fee ($10), drop your child off at 5:00, pick him/her up 9:00 and do whatever you wanted in between. Me, being a glutton for punishment, decided to volunteer to be one of the chaperones. Partly because they were only taking school-aged children, so Greg and I would have had Amy anyway, and partly because Elliot didn’t want to go. This is typical for him. Something new, something with lots of kids, not his scene. But I was pretty sure he’d have fun if he did go, so we decided to go together.
We fed the kids dinner (pasta, sauce and meatballs), everyone decorated a cookie, did a craft and then the plan was to watch a movie. Everything was going along fairly well until about 30 minutes into the movie. It was “Elf”, perhaps not the best choice to keep kids’ attention, although no movie is guaranteed to keep 100 kids quiet.
Thirty minutes in kids started to get restless. Very restless. And it wasn’t just some kids, I’d say it was about two thirds of the kids. They were running around the back of the gym, having pillow fights and generally being loud. The vice principal was there (thankfully), and she managed to keep things under control for a while, but it became apparent that things were going south.
The VP stopped the movie and gave the kids the option of sitting quietly and watching the movie or going into one of the classrooms to colour. An alarming number decided to go to the classroom. I stupidly followed them, and once in, could not leave. I couldn’t leave the other parents knowing we were on the brink of chaos. One child in particularly was acting up a lot, and one of the parents told me she was not supposed to be talking to him. Not sure what that was all about, but I became responsible for him. He was a handful. After a few minutes of telling him to not do whatever he was doing, I asked him if he wanted to play hangman. That led to about 50 games of hangman and tic tac toe with him and four other kids of varying ages. We all survived.
At 8:40 the movie ended and all the kids piled back into the gym. The VP took over again and ran a game of British Bulldog as the parents slowly started to arrive. I breathed a sigh of relief.
In hindsight it all worked out, but there were about 45 minutes there when I was quite uncomfortable. I’m not sure how the other parents felt — those more used to a lot of kids in one place may have been more relaxed. Me, I got home and had a drink. But I didn’t break my November drinking rules – there were other “19 pluses” in the house.
And Elliot did have a good time, until the game of British Bulldog. I think he was done by then, and that many kids running around and shouting was too much. I am glad we went, despite the chaos, as I think it’s good for him to push his boundaries a bit.
And I know I missed yesterday. I’ll make up for it another day.