This morning I walked the kids to school and then dropped by the office to fill out a volunteer form so I could accompany Eli’s kindergarten class to the grocery store for a field trip. The office secretary was giving out late slips and it was lovely to hear her greet each late child by name. There is a sadness inherent in chronic tardiness, isn’t there? Then I get over that sadness. It’s elementary school, not a Canadian dysfunctional novel. All is probably well.
One girl came in and the secretary said she looked tired.
“Oh yes,” the girl said. “I was up until ONE AM.”
“My,” said the secretary.
“I have so many things on the weekends,” said the girl. “Dance, soccer, Bulgarian school…”
Her eyes were wide. She didn’t look tired to me. I wasn’t buying it. Some kids like having lots of activities. Some kids can’t tell time. Some kids just like people to feel sorry for them.
The walk to the grocery store was illuminating. The little girl walking in front of me told me all about her visiting grandparents, her younger sibling, and that she was sick actually. Right then. Today.
“I am so sick,” she said.
“Oh that’s too bad,” I said. To be polite, I asked, “Do you have a cough, or a stuffy nose?”
“I’m just sick sick sick,” she went on. “But still I have to come to school. And now [sibling A] and [sibling B] will get sick.”
“The more kids you have in your house, the sicker everyone will be,” I agreed.
We left it at that.
The grocery store field trip was a nutrition teaching expedition. Nutritionists took the children in two groups through the store and explained the Canada Food Guide and its rainbow of suggested food servings.
Mostly the kids were fascinated by the demonstration glass of milk. They all tapped it and marvelled that you could turn it over and nothing happened. It didn’t spill. MAGIC.
In the cereal aisle the children sat on the floor and learned how much fibre is needed in a serving of cereal to make it healthy (5g or more) and how much sugar (7g or less). A man who was going to shop down that aisle stopped short and asked me what was going on. He had a baguette tucked under his arm.
“They’re a kindergarten class,” I said, “learning about how to eat good food.”
“In the CEREAL aisle?” he scoffed.
“Um, yeah, they’re talking about breakfast,” I said.
“Sure, I get it,” he said and walked away.
You get it? What? Big Froot Loop rides again? Innocent children being brainwashed into thinking breakfast cereal might be an option as a food item? Way to stick it to The Man, baguette-eater.
Some days uptown New Westminster just has a lot more going on. Today was one of those days. Each corner of 6th & 6th had a strange looking person standing on it, someone grey-faced or slouching, someone with a hand shoved at a strange angle inside a jacket pocket. Someone with slightly outside-the-lines lipstick. A woman with a toddler-aged grandchild in a stroller was cooing, “Some-one is all poooopy..” while she waited for the light to change. A man with an artificial-looking beard asked me for change.
In the Most Depressing Mall in the Universe, where I went to buy lip balm at the drug store, a man followed me down the hall from the bathroom, his feet sounding alarmingly quick behind me. He wanted to ask how tall I was.
“Five foot ten,” I said. “Goodbye.”
Later, the kids had a friend over and they watched a video on youtube. Then another, and another. It was “American Girl,” at some point, a new pop song. I watched them closely as they watched, and I heard the following conversation:
(after a closeup of the three women in the video from behind)
“The camera just totally zoomed in on their BUTTS! Why did it DO that?”
“I don’t know.”
“Hey, that’s a nice car.”
“I like that guy’s tattoo. That’s really cool.”
“I think it’s a Mustang…”
“EW IT’S HER BUTT AGAIN..”
“Hey she’s stealing his car!”
“She’s totally stealing it!”
“I don’t want to watch this anymore.”
I heard this song by J. Roddy Walston and the Business in the car this evening and had to wait until it was done to turn off the engine. This love is subject to revision.