I’m amused yet embarrassed, tickled yet tortured all at the same time. My 6 ½ year old has become obsessed with the Macarena. He wants to listen to it on repeat, dance it, discuss it and hum it. And gladly-yet-sadly I must admit that I do own a CD with said-pop-culture-music-phenomenon. (Jock Jams Volume 2, fyi). And I’m also kind of a Macarena-ing Rock Star. Like, if it’s possible to be GOOD at the Macarena; I am. Yet, doing the Macarena once a day is more than enough for me, so if this thrice-to-twelve-times-per-day Macarena-ing continues, I may have to wear a pillow duct-taped over my head and around my ears for the next several weeks.
Friday, we walked to school with some of our neighbors. It was a beautiful day, and it’s an easy walk – maybe 15 minutes at the very most. You’d think we’d do this more often since it was such a delightful expedition, and we may continue to do it on Friday mornings (our school district has “Late Start” every Friday for teacher meetings. I LOVE Late Start days – the kiddos are so much happier with a bit more sleep, a little playtime and not having to mad-dash out the door). So, walking is great, but I’d hate to take the joy of riding the bus away from my pro-Macarena Matthew.
Experiencing the pre-school playground madness is an experience. But there is kind of some sort of structure and order to the chaos. It’s like the kids know their pecking order in Playground World and they stick to it. The 3-5th boys run races on the field, play basketball or just generally rip around the playground causing havoc. The 3-5th girls mingle and walk arm-in-arm in tightly-knit clique-y circles, giggling and whispering (probably making other girls feel horribly left-out and self-conscious). The K-2nd grade boys tend to stay on the playground running in mad circles around the climbing equipment, speeding down the slides and causing massive traffic-pile-ups at the bottom. They play pretend with the K-2nd grade girls sometimes or they just keep to themselves playing “Special Agents” or “Batman.” A smattering of kids of all ages wait patiently in line for a turn on the bars or a turn playing tether ball.
My friend Andrea, and I stood and watched the glee-filled mayhem around us taking note of all the different activities and the general vibe of oober-happy-kid-energy and joy. I tried (mostly in vain) to keep track of 3 ¾ (yes that’s THREE-AND-THREE-QUARTERS to ya, and don’t you forget it!) Zachary. He ran mostly with the 3-5th graders dividing his time evenly between the boys and girls.
I felt a tug on my sleeve. An adorable boy (the cute, athletic-type; the type that’s definitely got a future with “the ladies”) looked up at me, shielding his eyes from the sun. “You wanna race?”
I sized him up. Hmmm, maybe third grade – fourth at the most – yeah, I could take him. I handed Andrea my travel mug half-full coffee. “OK,” random-kid-who-asks-strangers-to-race, “You’re on.”
We picked a spot to start. “Where’s the finish?” I asked.
“Over there,” he gestured towards the field in a flailing, half-hearted, noncommittal way.
“Over where?” I asked. I mean, is this kid trying to dupe me? What if I think he means the trash can but then he keeps running down the field to the fence? Not fair.
“The trash can,” he says.
“OK,” I agree. We take our stance and both say, “On your mark, get set, go!”
As if in slow motion, I see my life as a chubby, not-at-all-athletic, band nerd, schoolgirl flash before me. I could, I think. I could take one for the girls – for the chubby, not popular, not always Gap-shopping girls. I could take this Cute Boy down. Pop his rapidly growing Cool Cute Boy ego – just a little bit. And once and for all, prove that chubby girls don’t always finish last.
And just when I was in the heat of my internal debate, some kid steps in front of me. I dodge around the kid – practically knocking down two bowling-pin-children in the process. And Cute Boy speeds on to victory. I burst into defeated tears. OK, just kidding about that. I give him a high-five, tell him good job, and without a word he runs off – probably to find another unsuspecting random adult to race.
This race thing could be good though. Maybe instead of training long runs for my half marathon (did an 8 miler yesterday!), I should focus more on my track workouts. Who knows?! Maybe I could start with kindergartners and work my way up to fifth graders. Or maybe I’ll just get back to watching and sipping my lukewarm coffee (all the while, silently cheering on all those little chubby girls).