Tuesday, May 12, 2009

THE UNBEARABLE LIKENESS OF BEING A PARENT VOLUNTEER

It was not going to be a good day.

A field trip with 39 kindergarteners, a handful of parents, and 3 teachers to a Build-A-Bear Workshop manned by TWO, yes 2, underpaid and not even remotely interested employees.

And, worse, we had no idea what to even expect, having never been there before.  It was always one of those places, like candy stores in the mall, that I'd so successfully made sweeping efforts to avoid and steer the children away from over the years.  It always looked like what I imagined the entrance to hell to be.  And, as it turns out, I was right on the money.

My first sign that our "hosts" were utterly clueless was when the 20-something with her hair pinnned back too tightly announced to the parent volunteers (which, I get, are sometimes a pain in the ass, but, for the most part, should be treated like gold because, what the hell is wrong with you that you don't even realize how lucky you are to have extra hands here today that aren't even on your goddamned payroll?!?!) that we could just go off and enjoy ourselves at the mall for the next two hours because "we've got it all taken care of here."

Yeah.

Right, sweetie.

Notafuckingchance.

And while some (obviously more intelligent) parents readily took her up on her offer and fled, I plunged forward with a few other stupid overprotective nellies and realized two critical seconds later that I had not only forgotten my Aleve, I also forgot to have my chai.

So, I won't go into all the gory details...well, okay, some of them, I will.  But the gist of it was this.  They were sooooo not prepared for a field trip with 40 children.  I get that they "do" birthday parties often, but this...a party, it was NOT.  Their number one problem was that they didn't even bother to split the kids into groups to have multiple activities taking place at one time.

No, no, no.  Get this.  These geniuses instead asked 39 six-year-olds to...STAND. IN. LINE. AND. WAIT.

Yes, wait.

And wait.

And wait even longer still.

Yes, really, just like that, but 10 times more annoying.

And then after they waited for the ONE person to come down the line so they could give her the name of their bears-to-be, then they were told to...

DING! DING! DING!   Wait in line again so that they could pick a heart for their little limp furry thingies.

And if THAT wasn't just the most lord of the flies episode!!! Ten gruesome minutes of all 39 children descending upon the poor man with the basket of little red hearts, shoving and thrusting their grubby 6-year-old hands this way and that, poking and prodding, pulling and tugging, until they'd retract it, joyfully raising the crimson prize above their heads in triumphant victory before ramming it full force into the slit on the back of the wilted little carcass.  Saliva dripping down their savage chins.

And then, yes, predictably by this point, they were told to get into yet another line and wait.  Oh, no, hold on, this time it was actually two lines...that converged...like merging traffic onto the interstate.  Yeah, and about that safe and hand-gesture friendly, too.

And then came the time to finally get their bears stuffed.  

ONE. 

AT. 

A. 

TIME.

There were 39 children, for crissakes!!!  THIRTY-NINE!!!!!  Seriously, did no one, at some point during the booking process, during the scheduling process, during the morning prep process, think it, I dunno, might be a good idea to, I dunno, maybe run a second stuffing machine simultaneously?  Really???  It's not like they were getting paid by the hour.  What the hell were they thinking?

So, once the precious little pissy pants were all lined up (because it was soooo past snack time at this point and all their blood sugar levels were dropping dangerously low), the other Einstein (who I'll credit only for his enthusiasm) decides that it's just about the bestest idea in the whole wide world if EVERY single time someone comes up to the machine and impales their bear onto the stuffing mechanism ALL 39 CHILDREN SCREAM AT THE TOP OF THEIR LUNGS, 

STUFF MY BEAR! STUFF MY BEAR!  STUFF MY BEAR!

Yes.  Really.  

And as I'm frantically digging through my purse for just the right pen with which to gauge his eyes out, I realize that the freaking air conditioning isn't even turned on in this place.  Which, in some ways was a really good observation because I thought there for a second that I might be pre-menopausal, but as it turns out, I was just homicidal and totally fantasizing suddenly about how great Mr. Build-A-Bear Employee would look in that sparkly little Hanna Montana dress over there, with that red bow wrapped ever-so-tightly around his neck, and one of those cute little hearts shoved up his...

And then I must've blanked out -- because it was all over.  

I only found out later that I had apparently single-handedly led the children through several songs and a handful of circle games as they waited...

and waited...

and waited...

for their friends' bears to be brought to life with the incessant pounding of the stuffing machine and the neverending chanting of "STUFF MY BEAR! STUFF MY BEAR!" drumming in the background.

But, you know, I don't really remember any of that at all, and am fairly certain that I must've blocked all the rest of it out (as I'm frequently wont to do with traumatic experiences).  Meanwhile, Saia and Chago are beaming and just pleased as punch to have made themselves their very own teddy bears, and have only wonderful memories of the nightmare workshop.

And you know, I think I'm kinda okay with that.


2 comments:

Sonia said...

A field trip to the mall?! What the hell is that?! (I only wish I'd been there so I could teach them to scream "Pimp my bear! Pimp my bear!" and "Cram it! Cram it!" during the stuffing.)

SAIA AND CHAGO said...

Pimp my bear!!! Oh, that's perfect!!! You know, if they changed the name of that place, it would probably skyrocket like Bratz dolls.