Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Adventures of Bongo

The Room 101 Pre-K class held a turkey decorating contest yesterday. A turkey cutout was packed into each child’s knapsack, along with instructions, among those included the line, “Please try not to assist your child in decorating their turkeys.” We pulled out all kinds of arts and crafts stuff, but left all decisions up to Sam as to what and how the decorating should be done. The end result was a turkey that looked like it had survived and explosion at Michael’s. Leah tied a ribbon bow around its neck, and I warned her not to help him any more. Stick to the rules.

This afternoon, when I picked Sam up, I spent a few minutes reviewing the other turkeys hung on the wall. One child had drawn, to perfect scale and pattern, the turkey’s feathers, and colored them all in seasonally appropriate crayon shades. Another little tyke had somehow skillfully managed to glue real feathers in perfect configuration, giving his turkey an eerie lifelike quality. Get those kids to art school, I say!

Not really. No, what I was thinking to myself was put perfectly into words by my wonderful wife when she said, “If I were their teacher, I would have given the parent another turkey and said, ‘Thank you Mrs. So-and-So, your turkey is beautiful. Now take this one home and let Jared decorate it himself.’”

So there I am, standing there, having a flashback to 8th grade, when my science fair project, a working model of a seismograph complete with my scientifically accurate field tests took second place to an absolute moron of a girl had “built” a solarium, complete with tongue and groove wood sides, and a hinged glass lid, when a woman walks up and stands next to me, also examining the turkeys. She turns and says, “Wow, I’m glad I’m not the only one who helped my kid decorate his turkey.”

I did not acknowledge her presence with a response. Laser beams shot out of my eyes. I stalked away, full of loathing. Leah told me later that was Jared’s Mom.

Each day there is a “special person” in Sam’s class. They get to do all sorts of cool things, like bring in a snack for everyone, bring in a special object, and have first choice for all the daily activities. They also get to bring home a stuffed monkey whose name is Bongo, and a journal book. Enclosed in this book are letters from the children and their parents, thanking the teachers and telling them what each child did with Bongo.

Bongo is a very cute monkey. We had fun with him. Later, reading through the various entries, I came across Jared’s. His mother had written a short novel, describing in Disney-fied detail the simply wonderful time she and Jared had with Bongo. The only things she left out were Jared’s bowel movements.

Screw her. Here’s my entry:

Dear Kindly Keeper & Caretaker Mrs. O’Rourke,

I was lucky enough to be in the care of Sam Stoddard today, as he was the special person. And what a special day it turned out to be. Sam shared a donut with me during my transport to his home. Upon my arrival at the Stoddard household, I was greeted enthusiastically by Sam’s twin brothers, who apparently took an immediate liking to me. Though the limb pulling and stretching I received did loosen some rarely used muscles, I must say that I would not choose such a vigorous exercise regimen on a regular basis. I much prefer swinging on vines and picking bananas.

Sam and his family left me to relax and acclimate to my new, but all too temporary surroundings while they strolled over to the Delaware Park Casino playground. The weather was in doubt, and Sam did not wish me to be exposed to the elements. He knew full well that a monkey of my constitution does not fare well when saturated.

I enjoyed a mug of hot chocolate with Sam and his brothers upon their return. Until today, I was unaware of the intoxicating nature of this drink. Please convey to my future caretakers my strong desire to include this lovely drink in all my meal plans.

After a scrumptious dinner of fish sticks, which I politely refused based on my belief that animals should never be someone else’s meal (just ask me about jaguars), we settled on the living room couch for a viewing of The Backyardigans. What an entertaining movie! Although, truthfully, I was somewhat disappointed in the lack of primate representation.

During the movie, Sam’s dog Rocky was kind enough to introduce himself. Again, I am not accustomed to such enthusiastic greetings, and it took me quite a while to clean the dog slobber off. Just kidding. Had you going there, didn’t I?

The movie concluded, and I participated in a wonderful session of block construction with Sam and his brothers. Sam’s brothers built their own swords. I briefly feared for my well-being, but luckily my fears turned out to be misplaced. The contest was not whose sword could inflict more damage, but who could build the larger sword and run it up and down the hallway. Imagine my relief!

Sam then showed me the finer points of train construction. He is an excellent teacher. You might want to consult him on the odd occasion when you have a question.

Bedtime arrived all too quickly, and after some brief calisthenics consisting mostly of jumping on the bed, we read a few stories and it was off to sleep, accompanied by the dulcet tones of Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas. I sincerely enjoyed my time with Sam, and look forward with happiness to the time when we next will meet.

Yours Truly,

B. Monkey

It took up three pages. And I wrote it in purple ink.