Summer stint as Mr. Mom

Adam Griffiths

The plan was to sleep. Work. Sleep around. Get over the lull spring semester inspired.

Oh, how wrong I was.

The last four weeks of my life have been littered with guitar lessons, ballet lessons, football practices, ice cream runs and all the other trappings of the clich‚ experience of growing up.

Three weeks ago, my mom politely excused herself from a field trip she signed up to chaperone and switched me in for a fun-filled day with my little sister Kendall’s second-grade class at Hueston Woods State Park.

At 9:30 a.m., there I was, standing among a dozen moms and dads watching the morning rituals of twenty-some 7- and 8-year-olds: writing letters to the classroom “Star of the Week,” placing paper bag lunches in plastic laundry baskets (segregated by sex), lining up to head out to the bus.

I drove separately and got lost on the way, but I still arrived before the buses – the six buses. First, Park Ranger Rich introduced us to Larry the Eagle, who fell out of his nest and never wanted to live apart from humans again. Per the story, one day Larry started laying eggs. Her name is now Larri, “with an ‘i.'” To a 7-year-old, that’s a pretty radical life change. We also met Ralph the Turkey Vulture, who was greeted with a sea of gasps and dropped jaws. “Whoa! That’s a turkey vulture! Wow!” Apparently, turkey vultures are common knowledge among youngsters these days.

Suddenly, I realized this wasn’t the elementary school I remember. Then again, I was the odd kid in turtlenecks and khakis who followed my teacher around like a baby duck and always got stuck in the car of wannabe popular kids.

Lunch was next. I sat with Kendall and her friends Elizabeth, Shelby and Katie. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for all, served fresh out of plastic baggies with Capri Suns, bags of chips and cookies provided by Blake – it was his birthday.

Lunch was like “Sex and The City,” rated “E” for everyone. Elizabeth snapped photos, which she quipped she would send to everyone via e-mail. They discussed their dates of birth, and each bizarrely knew if she was late or early.

Elizabeth compared me to Peter Parker from Spider-Man. (She started to “tear up” at the third installment.) Each girl shared her parents’ professions. And all the while, I sipped my generic store brand grape juice box, taking notes, trying to take the entire scene seriously.

After lunch, we walked over to a groupe of fenced-in deer. The students were instructed to draw what they saw, and I was suddenly simultaneously in the presence of future art majors and, equally, the future art poseurs.

We visited the nature center as our day wound down, but the exhibits were less than thrilling. As we waited to board the buses, everyone sat down by the lake and wrote poems reflecting on his or her day.

Katie came up with a ditty titled, “By the Lake,” which read: “By the lake the water sways / by the lake the goose lays.” Shelby’s “Beautiful” was only one word long: “Erie.” But Kendall’s unabashed style was my favorite in “The Pond:” “The pond is a place filled with life. / Fish live here. / Ducks live here. / Tons of animals live here.”

Classic poetry. Good conversation. A day well spent.

Summer? I’ll sleep when I’m dead.

Adam Griffiths is a sophomore magazine journalism major and a columnist for the Summer Kent Stater who’s glad he’s not a parent yet. Contact him at [email protected].