Like so many others, our state is experiencing a financial meltdown. Now the government, local labor unions, and the Board of Education are involved in a power struggle, understandable from several points of view (i.e., perspective, which as an artist I completely get) but the outcome is really, really sad. Our public schools have closed for one day a week. This would be tragic anywhere, but here in Hawaii, we already have one of the shortest school years and woefully inadequate educational systems in the nation. We cannot afford to rob children of classtime. I'd get on a soapbox but I don't have one -- or a solution, either.
So I got involved, on a whim, really. I volunteered to "help" with this program that offers art education on "Furlough Fridays." I'm not a teacher, I don't have children of my own, or much experience with the little critters. I just thought that I could pitch in somehow -- office work, I thought, or preparing lunch. I didn't think I'd be thrown into the front lines! Now it's my job to keep the 7 to 9 year olds together, and move them through four class periods per day, one day a week. It's been trippy! I don't want to get into stories, because there are so many (kids are so cute!! Whodda thunk?) and I'm afraid once I start relating the stories I couldn't stop, but I will share one pet peeve. Why the HECK do they show up each morning carrying snacks and trinkets that I ultimately have to be responsible for?
Last Friday I came home, emptied my purse, and found these: a plastic, robotic sort of toy that three little boys were fighting over. Once I confiscated him, "Tron" immediately got lost in the depths of my purse. The sand filled crocheted ball is meant to be bounced off of feet in a show of agility, but instead it was getting thrown, hard, at other kids. The bag of smoked almonds has been in and out of my purse several times now. A teacher takes it away during a drawing class, I carry it back to the breakroom and return it to its owner's lunchbox, until it shows up once more in the next class and the cycle starts over. I try to return all of these 'purse treasures' at the end of the day, but since the parents show up whenever they feel like it to take their kids home I often miss the opportunity. So I have to keep these objects safe, until next Friday, when no doubt I'll inadvertently bring another haul home with me.