Today was "Family Literacy Day" at the girls' school. They basically throw the doors of the school and the classrooms open to the parents from 9-10:30 and invite you in to play literacy games, read, and enjoy your kids.
Part of the day's festivities included "Dress Like a Book Character". Now, I've been at this parenting thing for awhile now and I've done a few of these before. When the note comes home giving notice of this day I feel the pit begin to fester in my stomach. I've got three girls who don't want to just settle in the dressing up department. There is some work and creativity involved here. SO, when we finally come up with the ideas and know how to execute them, the pit dissipates and I'm a happy camper.
This year, things came together quite easily. I was successful at convincing Sasha that "Fancy Nancy" would be the perfect choice for her. After all, she really does love the book - but even better, Ellie's already been Fancy Nancy, so we've got the whole costume figured out.
Hannah wanted to be Fern from Charlotte's Web. That was easy too. Some pig-tails, jeans, a plaid shirt and a red bandanna and the generous gift of her sister's beloved stuffed pig. *More on that later.
We finally nailed down Ellie's choice at 5:30 last night. I had the brilliant (I never claimed to be humble) idea that Ellie would make a great "Miss Frizzle" from The Magic School Bus series. We had a purple dress, she has long hair we could put up in a bun, and she already had a green reptile that could stand in as "Liz", The Frizz's side-kick. I assured Ellie we could make some embellishments for her dress from felt and fabric paint I already had on hand.
Shockingly we were all dressed, fed, and adorned this morning and made it to school on time. We even had time to snap this picture:
Once at school, I wandered around to each of their
classrooms and participated and observed all of their fun.
Ellie was teaching the finer points of Bananagrams in her grade 2/3 classroom...
Here, Sasha was pretty excited to be hanging out in the grade four portable playing
a game with her Reading Buddy and another kindergarten friend and her buddy.
The grade five's were playing a group game in the Library. I popped in to check out what they were doing and got convinced to stay and play as part of Hannah's team. I'm happy to report that I led the team to a resounding victory. Hannah actually hugged me in front of her classmates.
Now, about the Pig. Perhaps you'll remember me writing about Ellie receiving "Wilbo" (a pig she fell madly in love with at a toy store in Banff) for Christmas this year. Wilbo is near and dear to Ellie. That's why I was completely shocked when Ellie agreed to let Hannah take him to school today as part of her costume.
I made sure Ellie was comfortable with her decision and the two of us prepped Hannah with expectations of how good old Wilbo would be treated. Ellie's number one rule was that NO ONE was allowed to hold Wilbo with the exception of Hannah's friend Wesley. Hannah agreed. Ellie went one step further and made Hannah promise that if anything happened to Wilbo she would have to buy her a new one. Hannah agreed to this as well, after all, what's going to happen to a stuffed pig at school?
All seemed well as we marched up the school steps. I went with Sasha to begin my morning in Kindergarten, and Ellie went to her class and then to the grade five portable to take part in what Hannah's class was doing.
I was happily reading "Fancy Nancy" to Sasha and her two friends when a tearful Ellie came wallowing into the classroom at 9:05 holding Wilbo. Have you ever seen tears get stuck on Ellie's big brown cheeks? It's a sight. She tearfully thrust Wilbo towards me exposing a large patch of green paint on Wilbo's foot, and a little bit more on his side and face. Seriously, I thought, how does THIS happen by 9:05 in the morning?
Off Ellie and I went to the bathroom to do the best we could with scrubbing out the green paint. The story came out with the tears as I rinsed and scrubbed. It seems that one of Hannah's classmates was dressed as a character from a book that was covered in WET green paint. Hannah didn't agree to let this classmate hold Wilbo, but the student touched him anyway and the paint came off her hand. Ellie said, "I knew I shouldn't have let Wilbo come to school with Hannah!" Lesson learned? Perhaps.
After rinsing and scrubbing and wringing out her beloved pig, I wiped some tears and returned Ellie to her classroom and safely stuck Wilbo in her cubby where he would stay for the remainder of the day. Not two minutes after returning to Kindergarten did Hannah's tearful face appear at the same door Ellie's had been only a short time before. The story came out and more tears fell. I wiped them, explained how Ellie was feeling and why Wilbo was going to stay put for the rest of the day. A few Kleenex later and Hannah was good to go.
As I left the school later this morning I was thinking about what this whole scenario might have looked like if I hadn't been there. Who would have scrubbed Wilbo knowing how significant he is to Ellie? Who would have dried the tears and put a reassuring arm around their shoulders? Who would have acted as mediator between two sisters and known the intricacies of their relationship and their hearts?
I'm glad it was me.