Sunday, February 19, 2006

100 Days

You know those people who dress all in white and stand outside the drugstore taking donations for some mysterious, unnamed charity? And how when you walk past them without putting money in their buckets, they always say "Bless you?"

I don't think "bless" is the word they're really thinking.

Just sayin'.

***

G's school had a 100th Day of School celebration on Wednesday. I don't remember this from my own time in elementary school, but it seems to be an established "holiday" now: they celebrated last year too, and I've seen 100th Day pencils and buttons at educational supply stores.

The first-grade teachers had asked for parent volunteers for this event a couple of weeks ago, and P and I were both signed up to help, so off we went. They had set up nine or ten long tables in the school multipurpose room where the kids could do 100-themed activities: stringing 100 pieces of cereal to make a necklace, counting out 100 each of various food items for a snack bag, putting together a puzzle of the 100s chart, and so forth.

P ended up manning the "make a 100 Day hat" table, and I got one where the kids were supposed to lick a lollipop 100 times. Watching the variety of ways they approached this task was like conducting an experiment in social science. Some kids took it very seriously and counted out 100 careful licks, then announced "I'm done, now what?" Some kids just stood there and licked the lollipop down to the stick without bothering to count. Some kids were willing to count, but couldn't make it to 100 without prompting from me. Some kids took a couple of token licks and then spun the lollipop around in their mouths, watching me to see if I was going to challenge them for breaking the rules. (These were generally the same ones who tried to come back for seconds or stuff their pockets with extra lollipops for later.) One dark-haired boy kept hanging around my table long after he'd finished his lollipop; I shooed him away to do other activities several times, but every time I turned around he was there at my elbow again. ("He liked the pretty lady," said P. "ACK," said I.)

The number-one question at my table, after "Do I really have to lick it 100 times?", was "Can I keep it after I get to 100 licks?" To which I replied, eyeing the wet, sticky candy, "Once it has your spit on it, it's yours." It was an hour of total chaos, but everyone had fun, including me. I really enjoy volunteering at the school -- if I didn't have to work, I'd be there every day.

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