Field Day, like a big field trip, a class party, and the day when you collect everything in your desk and bring it home so it can be thrown away there as opposed to at school, is one of those end of the year markers I remember very clearly from when I was little. The day is spent outside, divided up into teams, partaking in a series of athletic events, mostly variations on relay races. It was always a lot of fun, one of those days that you looked forward to and which made going to school, at least for that day, like an entirely new and exciting prospect.
T2’s Field Day fell on the same day that T1 and his class went on their big, end of the year field trip. When I was in grade school, the big thing, the thing you looked forward to for seven years, was in 8th grade you went on a class trip to Washington, DC. We weren’t the only school who did this, I think the 8th grade DC trip was (and maybe still is) pretty standard. Since moving here I have wondered where kids in the area go on their 8th grade trip. I can’t imagine they go to DC, as it is half an hour away. We go to DC once every couple of weeks or so. The 8th graders in Northern Virginia have to go somewhere more exotic. Do they go to Florida? New York? Philadelphia? No one has been able to tell me. I can tell you where 7th graders go on their end of the year trip.
Yeah, so pretty exciting. They go to the National Mall, see the monuments, and check out a couple of museums.
C and I gave T1 the option of which one of us he wanted to go along as a chaperon. Much to the surprise of everyone, he picked C. Ordinarily, he doesn’t want C anywhere near his classmates. Not because she is embarrassing in the traditional way that all parents are embarrassing to all 13 year olds, but because she is hot and I guess his classmates notice. In any event, this time he decided he wanted his mom to go which made Field Day at the elementary school my responsibility.
I arrived at school at the appointed time and was directed to the cafeteria, where the other volunteers and I were treated to breakfast. I sat down at a table of moms. An older, but attractive, mom started hitting on me a little. I could tell she was sort of the alpha mom. The rest of them deferred to her.
“I love your shirt!” she exclaimed. “And the kids are going to love it too. That’s so clever! Did your child pick it out?”
I was wearing a green t-shirt with Spider-Man, Iron Man, Wolverine and the Hulk on it.
“Ahhh,” I said. “No. No, he didn’t. This was all me. I just dress like a toddler.”
She and the other mothers laughed, the looks on their faces telling me they were unsure if I was kidding.
“It’s sad but true,” I went on. “T2 is in second grade. He and I dress more or less alike, the only difference is, most days he looks better than I do.”
I was being completely serious. The moms seemed even more uncertain now. Thankfully, C chose that moment to send me a text message and cleared up any confusion. My phone rattled on the table.
“Is that…” a different mom asked, “is your text alert Perry the Platypus?”
Perry the Platypus is a character on the absolutely hilarious Disney cartoon Phineas and Ferb. Phineas and Ferb are two genius brothers who spend every day of their summer vacation inventing amazing stuff. Perry is their pet platypus who, unbeknownst to them, is also a James Bond type secret agent. The boys introduced me to it. It’s one of my favorite shows. Perry is a Platypus, so he doesn’t talk. The only sound he makes is a rattling growl which is actually a pretty accurate representation of what a platypus sounds like. I use it for text alerts.
“Yes,” I said, “yes it is.”
“Oh,” said alpha mom. She seemed vaguely disappointed by me but, to her credit, was legitimately trying to be gracious and nice. “Well…I think it is great. We all need to do what we can to try and stay young!”
“You are absolutely right!” I agreed. “And in that spirit, I’m going to go get myself a gigantic plate of donuts.”
Which I did. Four glazed donuts and I sat in front of the moms and ate them all. I love glazed donuts. I only got a little on my shorts and I feel certain the PTA was super impressed by my table manners.
The two PE teachers showed up and explained to us what was going to happen. There were about 12 stations, each station its own event, the kids rotated to a new event every 7 to 8 minutes. It was very well organized. I was paired up with another dad. Our event was the Horseshoe Relay.
I would explain how the game was played to each of the groups as they came up. Horseshoe relay is not particularly complicated and I like to think my line of banter was rather entertaining, but we were dealing with kindergarteners, first and second graders, so inevitably there would be a kid or two who would get totally confused. There was a lot of yelling and running and throwing of big, plastic horseshoes and everyone had, I think, a pretty good time at our station. Mostly I talked, because I am a talker, and the other dad directed traffic. It worked out.
About four groups in I lost track towards the end of the game.
“Okay,” I said, “which is our winning team?”
“They are all winners,” said one of the moms in charge of shepherding the group around for the morning.
“That’s true ma’am,” I said, “but one of these teams is more a winner than the others!”
The kids all laughed at this, which gives me hope for the future. Kids in this county aren’t allowed to play dodgeball but these particular kids cared about winning.
“If who wins doesn’t matter,” observed one six year old philosopher, a girl in a pink baseball hat and a determined scowl on her face, “why do we have teams?”
Also, the kids all brought bottles of water. This was a necessity because the temperature was in the 90s and we were in the middle of an open field. Neither myself or my partner for the day had thought to bring our own water, making the 1st graders who couldn’t figure out the pretty simple “thrown the horseshoe, go get the horseshoe” rule set for Horseshoe Relay still more clever than either of us. So another point for the future, insofar as I am concerned.
I can honestly say I in no way, shape or form influenced the outcome of the game when T2 played. I will say that his team won.