Friday, April 9, 2010

just ironic

During the month of March ISB hosted their annual visiting authors. This year they were poets. I was purposefully absent from the surrounding events, being afraid they would bring back awkward memories from our first year in Beijing...

I felt like a good mom when Grandma and I took Mary and Olivia,my then pre-schoolers, by taxi, over to the big kids'school just to take a picture of Sam with visiting celebrity Andy Griffiths. He's the Australian author of juvenille novels, The Day my Butt Went Psycho, Butt Wars-the Final Conflict, as well as his popular series of "Just" books, including Just Disgusting, Just Joking, Just Annoying.

When we walked into the room, the lecture was already in progress. Mary and Olivia settled down next to me.The librarian smiled. She'd said I could come.

We were quickly engaged, as Griffiths explained how he chose a butt as his protagonist. The children participated excitedly as he led them through his creative processes, and even allowed them to help him develop a new story line...the more absurd the better. It was a great discussion. I was impressed. When the lecture ended I took the picture of Sam and Andy Griffiths and ran home with the girls and Grandma.

All is well until Ben catches wind of the picture. He wants me to go back the next day to his lecture period with Andy Griffiths. Big problem, it's in the morning. No ayi (babysitter) for Caitlin and Grant. Second problem, could I possibly be wearing out my welcome with that librarian? Ben starts to cry.

"Okay," I say. "I'll see what I can manage."

The next day I walk in with Mary, Olivia, Caitlin, Grant, and Grandma. The lecture is already in progress. The librarian is wearing a big lobster hat, but she is not smiling. She's giving me a kind of a mix between an eyeroll and a smirk. Mary and Olivia aren't really settling down. The fourth graders are engaged in the same lively discussion as the fifth graders were the day before. Caitlin's little noises couldn't possibly be heard over their excited voices, but the librarian is distracted. I can feel her watching me but pretend not to notice.

I smile at Ben. He is happy we are there. I laugh at Griffiths' jar of homemade vomit. The librarian can't laugh at the vomit. Caitlin darts over to a window. I chase after her. Mary follows me. The librarian follows me. I sweep Caitlin up with one hand and grab Mary by the coat with the other. I'm trying to act graceful. Mary pulls away as I let go of the coat and she flies in to the wall. It is getting harder to look graceful, but I try to keep good posture and remind myself how much I enjoy public attention. The lobster is bobbing at me.

"I'm sorry this lecture is only for kids," the librarian says firmly.

"We are on our way out," I respond.

My face is as red as her lobster. I drag everyone out. Fortunately, I leave our 600 dollar camera on the floor so I have an excuse to go back. When the lecture ends I grab the camera and Ben's picture with Andy Griffiths.

That's all I needed.

I spend the day managing my embarrassment, until the morning's irony dawns on me. I may have been the first misbehaving parent to be kicked out of a lecture on runaway butts. Maybe I should feel proud.