Phyllis Britt

Phyllis Britt

The school year is drawing to a close, and that means a flurry of activities – even for grandparents.

I hope everyone enjoyed their Memorial Day holiday – for the last several years, Memorial Day weekend has included three – count them, 3 – picnics for us. We start with a neighborhood picnic on the Saturday before Memorial Day, followed by a church picnic on Sunday, and then on Memorial Day itself the pool to which we belong has a picnic. The only problem there is coming up with a side dish for all three, but we always manage, somehow. I have a great pasta salad recipe, and this year I had to do a dessert for one picnic, for which I found a tasty almond sheet cake that’s really easy to make.

Grandson Thomas’ end-of-school program at Grace Child Development Center has already taken place. This year it was held in the Wesley Center instead of the church sanctuary. My only concern with the change in venue was that, in the sanctuary, all those cute but somewhat rambunctious preschoolers stood on the permanent – read that not moveable – steps to the altar; however, on the stage in the Wesley Center they were standing on the typical portable risers. In my years of teaching before moving into full-time journalism, I have seen far too many kids miscalculate their positioning and fall off the back of the top riser or into the kid in front of them. In fact, my friend Joanne, who taught music at Mead Hall for many, many years, would place the piano on the floor below and in front of the stage – and, unfortunately, during one of her last programs, a child fell completely off the stage and onto her. Not good.

But I need not have worried about Thomas or his classmates – they all sang, did all the movements that went with the songs and no one fell off – not even when they each climbed down the risers to receive a “diploma.”

We’re still attending swim meets – something we’ve done pretty much since our son Mac was 7 – so that’s 32 years with a brief hiatus until grandchildren joined swim team. The first swim meet was last Tuesday, May 27, at Hammond Hill pool. The good news, well, sort of good news, is that Cade’s age group this year is too small to field a relay team which means he was finished at event 42. (For the uninitiated, there are about 70 events in all, so to be able to leave slightly more than halfway through is a real serendipity.)

Then Cade’s entire grade participated in a “wax museum.” If anyone has had kids at Hammond Hill Elementary in the last 15 or 20 years, you know what I’m talking about. Granddaughter Ariah, now about to enter high school, performed as Shirley Temple while she was at Hammond Hill. Each kid had to research a famous character, make a poster with pertinent information, dress up as that character and present a prepared spiel on the famous figure. Cade chose Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It was kind of fun to assist in preparing Cade’s attire. Much of it was easy – white dress shirt, black pants, black suspenders, polka dot tie, glasses. We added grey hair, and I searched high and low for a cigarette holder, something of an FDR trademark. After looking several places I finally found a cigarette holder and fake cigarettes. Yes, I realize this is no longer politically correct. As a result we first checked with the teacher about the fake cigarette. She said someone might complain – and I could see that, since the ones I found look very real, right down to the glowing end, especially since all school district facilities are supposed to be tobacco free.

So Cade took the holder alone. And, as the piéce de resistance, we happened to have a wheelchair. He definitely looked the part, and he knew his talk very well. I was impressed.

The weekend took us to Greenville for Pearce and Clarke’s dance recital. This is Pearce’s second year in ballet, and she’s already beginning to look like a real dancer. Where my granddaughters dance, they divide the recital into four separate performances, each only about 45 minutes long. The bad news is Clarke and Pearce aren’t in the same class and therefore weren’t in the same recital. The good news is we watched Pearce, walked across to a nearby restaurant for a libation, then went back to watch Clarke. The other bad news was that Pearce danced first, so Clarke had time to think about all those people watching (and a few laughing at the really young dancers’ antics). She began to cry, not wanting to be in front of everyone. But we all persevered, and once she was with the other dancers in her class, she was fine. (However, I will admit that when the dance ended, Clarke was the first to bolt from the stage.)

This week is the last week of school, so we have Payton’s awards day and cookout and Cade’s awards day at Aiken Elementary School, as well as their school’s field day, plus Ariah’s last awards day at Paul Knox Middle School. We also have the next swim meet.

Little Maddie, 2, is our only grandchild who doesn’t have any end-of-year event this year.

But I’m pretty sure that will change next year. Then we’ll have seven kids to have activities we as grandparents should try to attend.