kidding around

On a scale of one to ten that measures how much sense things make to me, kids fall right around the Electoral College system, our country’s imperial units, and how mankind discovered milking cows.

Yes, it’s time for the kindergartener story, as promised. (I mentioned kindergarteners trying to stick their fingers up my butt in an earlier post. There won’t be much elaboration on that, mostly because that sort of thing speaks for itself.)

Our dance team hosts mini clinics twice a year as fundraisers. We each get assigned some “buddies,” ranging from kindergarteners to eighth graders, to entertain for one day. There are some large group activities, like learning routines and showcasing dances at an impromptu talent show, so that you aren’t responsible for coming up with other ways of occupying their time, provided you have kids who actually listen to you.

My very first mini clinic, none of my kids showed up, so I hung around a friend’s group of eighth graders, who were well-behaved and unproblematic. This time, though, I was assigned five kindergarteners, none of whom wanted to dance when the routine was being taught up front.

My attempts to negotiate with five-year-olds

Me: *tries to herd them like sheep* What’re you going to show your parents when they come to watch?

Girl #1: Let’s play DUCK DUCK GOOSE!

Me: Do you not want to dance?

Girl #2: No.

Me: But this is a dance camp.

Girl #2:

Girl #2: … Really?

Come lunchtime and probably an hour of fielding off questions of “when can we eat,” the meals were delivered. Trudging through a sea of jittery, waist-high children, I embarked on a neverending quest to retrieve our fifth member. This was mission impossible, because the missing fifth girl was a different one every five seconds.

Somehow, we eventually settled down in a circle against the hallway corner. I handed out Chik-Fil-A bags and water to each girl before sinking, boneless, to the floor.

“Can you open this?” Girl #4 asked, holding out her bottle.

I twisted it open and returned the cap. “Yeah, remember to put the cap on when you’re finished! It’ll spill if you won’t.”

“Okay.” She dug into the chicken as I began opening the water bottles for the other girls.

Thirty seconds later, Girl #4, reached over for a napkin and knocked over the water. Shooting out my arm for damage control, I quickly righted the bottle, but there was already a considerable pool forming in the center of our circle. I snatched as much as I could out of the way.

“This is why you have to put the cap back on when you’re finished drinking,” I admonished, getting up for some paper towels. “Whoever spilt it has to help clean it up!”

All the girls pitched in, with way more paper towels than necessary, to dry the floor. I got up again to dispose of the dripping trash and returned right as another water bottle tipped over. I sighed. “What do you do after you finish drinking?”

Girl #3 looked up at me sheepishly as I righted the bottle. “Put the cap back on,” I answered myself. “If you need help with that, just tell me! I can do it for you so we don’t have another spill, okay?”

At this point, the water had spread to neighboring buddy groups, who were looking upon the scene with much amusement.

“My chicken’s soggy,” Girl #1 laughed. “Ew.”

Girl #3 wrinkled her nose.

“This is what happens when you don’t screw the cap back on,” I reminded them helpfully.

As they finished up the remainder of lunch, I went to ask for more paper towels, and the moms volunteering at the event had a good laugh at my expense. A teammate handed me the roll again, and I set off to deal with the second spill.

“Everyone’s bottles are closed, right?” I asked, examining each one. They nodded. “That’s what I like to hear,” I said, reaching into my lunch for the chocolate cookie.

Girl #3 eagerly reached into her own lunch, and I snapped my head up at the sudden movement. Ascertaining that she wasn’t in contact with any water, I smiled. “Yeah, everyone gets a cookie. Cool, huh?”

Girl #3 set her cookie down and grinned. “I’m going to save mine for later.”

“I’m going to eat mine now,” Girl #5 exclaimed, digging into her bag. One moment we were all eyeing our cookies in reverence and the next, everything was underwater.

Well, everything important, anyway. Girl #5 had, apparently, somehow managed to knock over someone else’s water bottle. For a long, long moment, we all just stared dumbly at the water as it spread, engulfing napkins and crayons and pants, indiscriminately.

I snapped to my senses. “What do we do after we finish drinking??” I wailed, on the verge of breaking down into nervous laughter.

No one answered.

“What do we do after we finish drinking?” I repeated, flailing my arms.

“Put the cap back on!” One of my teammates called back, ten feet away from the scene.

I sighed.

“My cookie’s wet,” Girl #1 piped up.

“You can have mine,” I told her, defeated. She took it gingerly.

“It doesn’t have as many chocolate chips in it.”

I was momentarily speechless. “Kid, it also doesn’t have as much water in it,” I said. “When you get as old as I am, you learn to take what you can get.”


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