violet was kind of somber while i requested they allow their photograph to be taken in the courtyard on the way to school. i imagine she suspected something was afoot, with those pails in tow and all.
after dropping oliver at his classroom, i walked violet to her room. "heeey, beth," said miss charlotte. "april's out with a sick daughter today. do you have any plans?"
actually, for once, work was trying really hard to interfere with the holiday goings on of my children. the night before, i had gone way out on a limb and attended a screening of life happens at the angelika (hey, it was free) and came back out of the theater to a text saying we had a project coming in to start dialing at ten the next morning. i begged the client's IT guy to send me the info so i could get started and that's when i learned there were two projects going up. i got everything in place by midnight and crossed my fingers they weren't going to throw a wrench at me in the morning.
i had to maneuver an 8:30 drop off, violet's hunt from 8:45-9:30, oliver's hunt from 10:30-11:00, and a noon pick up. hey, no sweat.
i told charlotte i could hang out until the end of their hunt.
holy shit. working with children is a lot of, uh, work. tara immediately became my best friend as i sat down on the blue rug. and then i was kind of frighteningly surrounded by these looming, grinning faces. it was like someone had switched to the fish eye lens on my life and i suddenly felt the need to retreat to higher ground as they all moved in with tiny questions and large heads.
violet worked the pink tower for me. riley pulled out the brown stairs. i concentrated really hard on saying only montessori-friendly things and occasionally found myself wondering if i should backtrack on what was coming out of my mouth.
then, we all lined up with our baskets and started the arduous journey through the school and out to the playground, where it turned out the hunt had already started, which i found a bit mysterious. fortunately, toddlers are slow and there were still plenty of eggs to be found.
violet lit up and i gently guided her from one ovo-treasure to the next. finding 12 eggs and takes really no time at all. then they converted over to playing on the playground like any other day. though it turned out caroline was well aware this was no ordinary day and she began wailing in protest of the schedule upset.
one of violet's teachers took her bucket from her to place on the picnic table. i had thought it was to make sure everyone had the appropriate number of finds, but i think it was really just so they could play unencumbered. regardless, this just totally broke violet's easter-loving heart. her mouth threw itself open and a wail started from way deep down and leaked slowly up to the top.
whichever teacher quickly realized the error and handed back her bucket, but that was that. mood destroyed. we spent the rest of our time circling the wood chip area, as she did not want to be anywhere near this year's easter bunny. she refused the little slide. she refused the swings.
charlotte tiptoed into the cafeteria and came back with two half cups of coffee. a little liquid energy to say thank you.
it was something else, getting all the toddler classes to line up with the appropriate groups. charlotte sings this little song called PUT YOUR BACKS AGAINST THE WALL, which also happens to be the lyrics, and they just line up like little pavlovian robots. there were several BACKS AGAINST THE WALL stops heading back to the room to get all the stragglers caught up and then we were back in.
it was time to race home and check in on work. fortunately, things were fine. annoyingly, there was no need for me to drive home, but it saved me from having to actually speak to anyone through a phone.
i returned to school and waited outside oliver's door until they all poured out and lined up, many with easter baskets on their heads. an old favorite, to be sure. i remember nearly getting those fluorescent plastic pails with metal handle nearly stuck forever on my head. and i still couldn't resist doing it again. no wonder i have issues with claustrophobia.
this walk was much more relaxed, as they were saving their energy for the explosion of primary-aged children competitively gathering eggs. after they sounded the starting bell, i couldn't keep up with oliver, as i refused to run criss-crossedly all over the playground. two minutes later, the eggs were about gone and i convinced oliver to sit with the easter bunny. then, he managed to spill a dime from one of his eggs in a gully of clover and boy did he spend a lot of time looking for it. hayes' father was standing uphill from him and we remarked how we needed to add this to our list of time-killing activities for children. he considered tossing a dime down there for him, but ended up letting him pick a replacement from a handful of change from his pocket. a quarter! it was quite sporting of him.
oliver moved over to the sidewalk with aubrey and they continued hunkering down over their baskets. i crouched down and got real close to his face and told him three times how i was leaving and would be back at noon to pick him up, none of which made it through his ears and to his brain, because he looked rather frazzled and eye-wipey when i arrived at noon to pick him up.
i left there and went back to toddler mayhem in full swing for the final hour. it was fun and super awesome getting to see violet in her environment, but holy shit. i think you have to be a special kind of crazy to take on that kind of a job. you know how when you're a stay-at-home parent and there are large swaths of the day which feel like this high-intensity slide into whatever stopping point, whether it be getting the kids off to school or getting them in bed? well that's what this was like. high-intensity rotating kids through the potty and cranking up the activity songs and helping whomever was in tears and wiping noses and walking in circles on the blue rug. just NON-STOP with sixteen of them. all of a sudden, three teachers did not seem like nearly enough.
so, MUCH INCREASED LEVELS OF APPRECIATION FOR TEACHERS.
it was a beautiful day, so we made the mistake of thinking all the children should take a stroll through the garden. two insisted on throwing handfuls of pebbles over and over. some were way ahead, some were way behind. we sat down to read a story and two of them, the youngest included, only wanted to climb up on the big boulder over and over while ethan removed his shoes. charlotte decided indoors would be a good idea. after a bit more of that, it was an even more difficult walk taking the full day kids to after school care. boy was that line stretched out.
charlotte thanked me with a hug and i retreated with my two children to the safety of home and a pile of egg innards just the right size and consistency for choking small children.