Thursday, July 7, 2011

Let's Read! Let's Move! Let's Not Be Jerks in Front of Top Administration Officials!

Not every day starts with the opportunity to admonish your children that "YOU WILL DO EVERYTHING THE SECRETARY OF EDUCATION ASKS YOU TO OR YOU WILL BE IN HUGE TROUBLE."

I should back up.

A while ago, a friend of mine from Jack's hockey team and one of the people behind the Parents' Coalition of Montgomery County invited the families from the hockey team to attend this year's kickoff of the Department of Education's "Let's Read! Let's Move!" campaign.

Never one to pass up the opportunity to cause a scene in front of People of Import, I jumped on the invitation. I roped Sandie of Urban Mama into going with me and she somehow agreed to drive, which if you have followed my exploits of driving into DC, you know is a good thing.

Or so you would think.

After one full lap around Dupont Circle, we decided to take a different route. See? It's not just me.

Somehow we arrived on time at which time Quinn promptly forgot all my threats of violence if he didn't behave himself and steadfastly refused to participate in the fun little games that they had to keep the kids busy before Secretary of Education Arne Duncan showed up.

At some point, I was looking around the room in an effort to ignore Quinn sulking on a beanbag and I saw a very tall man in the back of the room. I did a little double take because HOLY GOD THAT IS KAREEM ABDUL JABBAR STANDING RIGHT THERE OMG! OMG! OMG!

Bad. Ass.

Meanwhile, Sam was being a rock star. He was doing everything the people in charge were telling him to do and helping the other kids and being generally awesome. Naturally, I wanted to take a photo to commemorate the occasion, so I asked one of the staff if I could take photos. She went to check and came back to tell me that I could, so I took this most excellent photo of my kids

It looks a little like Quinn is trying to punch Sam.

Immediately after I took the photo, a lady came over to tell me that I couldn't take photos. This, naturally made me very sad because this was maybe the best photo opportunity I'd had since I wasn't allowed to take photos at Nintendo headquarters.

They started the program by asking the kids questions, during which Sam almost broke a shoulder raising his hand in a nonverbal shriek of "Pick me, teacher! I am ever so smart!" He did get to answer the question about what coin is made up of ten cents.*

* a dime

Quinn had somehow managed to coerce a staffer into dragging a beanbag into the audience so he could sprawl across it at least in the vicinity of the other kids. I did, however, see her have to shush him more than once.

After the quiz session, Arne Duncan showed up with Attorney General Eric Holder, the aforementioned Kareem, and Miss America. Naturally, all of the children were most excited about Miss America because she was wearing a tiara and is generally way more glamorous than Eric Holder.

Holder read part of "Oh The Places You'll Go" and Kareem read part of a book called "Goal." Awesome. After, Arne Duncan asked the kids if they had any questions and they said things like, "I like your book," and "I like some vegetables," and one kid who asked, "Where's Miss America?"

Arne Duncan finally had to take the bull by the horns and tell these kids who exactly was sitting in front of them in the form of the GIANT man folded into a small chair. They all talked a little bit, including Miss America, who said some nice things about reading and putting good things in your body if you wanted to be like her.

Quinn came up to me and said, "You know what's a bad thing to put in your body? Boogers."

Q-ball notwithstanding, we had a great afternoon. I don't really blame Quinn though. He has always had sensory issues, so I wonder if places like this are overwhelming for him. There were more fun physical activities and they gave each of the kids a book and a snack bag and then we headed out.

Because we were not allowed to take photos inside, Sandie and I stopped to take a photo outside the building. It may look like any other office window, but I assure you that this is the Department of Education.

Poster child Sam didn't want to stop reading to smile or walk.

I took several photos and in every one, Sandie's kids are smiling and photogenic and my kids are...not. I loves me some Team Stimey Junior though.

Thanks to the Parents Coalition of Montgomery County for the invitation and thanks to Sandie for being such a wonderful chauffeur. We had a day that I will remember for a long time.


Also check out "Accepting autism in my own child," which is posted over at my Autism Unexpected column.

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