My absolute favorite event at my kids’ schools is the annual Book Fair. It’s so popular at DS’s school, that I had to wait a few years before the position of co-chair opened up (and even now I’m considered the “3rd co-chair”). Anyway, the point is that I love it and everything about it. As the merchandising point person, I spend the year before the fair scoping out children’s books online and in bookstores to get a sense of what’s good and what’s probably going to be popular. Then I search online for summer reading lists to find out what all the area schools are reading. I also ask my kids and their friends about their favorite books and I keep mental notes. I’m just plain passionate about (okay, maybe obsessed with) books (particularly children’s books).
Fast forward to the Friday before the fair. A team of volunteers arrives to set up this enormous fair. Mike, the guy who delivers the 20 bookcases and gazillion boxes of books tells us it’s one of the biggest fairs he and his team have ever handled. “Wow, uh, gee, thanks…” we respond as we look at the daunting task before us. After a few handshakes and a “Thanks so much, Mike!” we decide, okay, we can do this, because, after all my co-chairs and I are all really passionate about books. Right. Okay. Here we go…
After several hours, the decorating team has transformed the enormous space we call the “large Pod” into a winter wonderland, complete with blue table cloths, snowflakes, illuminated snowmen, winter backdrops, lighted trees and more — most importantly, cases and case of books. It looks really good. We’re genuinely eager to get books in the hands of so many kids. One of my too-good-to-be-true co-chairs and I stay until the janitors kick us out (almost 11 pm) getting the books in the right places and getting everything where it needs to be.
We’re exhausted but excited.
The big day arrives — Monday, opening day. We arrive at 6:30 am to finish up some final details and prepare for our 8:00 am open. The new high tech scanners have a few glitches, but we’re generally off to a good start. Business is fairly steady. No serious problems. On Tuesday it’s more of the same, we arrive early (for our parent coffee at 7), leave late (and tired), but we’re really looking forward to Wednesday. Wednesday is always our big day. It’s when the kids really have had a chance to see the books, talk to their parents about their wish lists, then come in and buy. We start early (8:00 am) and stay open all day through to the big event — the Family Night. Our principal and several teachers scoop ice cream sundaes, complete with just about any topping you can think of (except nuts, of course, to respect the allergy restrictions), we have fun activities for the kids, storytime with a favorite teacher and all those books. It’s usually a big social event and tons of fun for everyone.
This year? Fun for everyone except me…unfortunately. At 5:10 am Wednesday morning I start throwing up…repeatedly. I kept hoping I was dreaming. It was the day I was really looking forward to. And now this?! “What the…?! NO!!!! This is not happening!!!” I called my co-chairs and told them I couldn’t make it. To say I was disappointed would be a huge understatement. This was sort of the climactic moment that all the preceding months of hard work led up to. And I was stuck in bed, unable to give suggestions to those buyers who look overwhelmed and confused about what to buy. Unable to direct people to the book they’ve been searching for but just can’t find in the midst of all the stacks. Well, maybe this was a great way for me to practice letting go and to realize that the world continues to revolve (quite well, thank you) without us control-freakish moms.
When the kids came home from school that day, they immediately knew I wouldn’t be moving from the sofa. I watched from a distance as they managed to get dinner on the table and do their homework without any complaining. I’m not saying that they whipped up some fabulous meal from a cookbook, but hey, they called and ordered pizza, paid the delivery guy (and remembered to tip him!), set and cleared the table, unloaded and loaded the dishwasher and finished their homework (without the usual sibling squabbles, too). Then, they brought me crackers, ginger-ale, and vitamin water, covered me with a blanket and pretty much made sure I had everything I needed. It was touching.
If it’s true that everything happens for a reason, then maybe this whole ordeal was a good lesson for me. When I kept asking myself, “Why is this happening today, of all days?” maybe the answer should have been, “So that you can realize that you can chill a little. You’re a big help, sure, but you’re not indispensable. And that’s okay. Really. Chill.” Right. Or maybe I just caught some 24 hour stomach flu from the hundreds of kids I was surrounded by for the past three days.
Whatever it was, I was glad to see my kids being so caring, considerate and responsible. They really stepped up when I needed them. I recently read a review of a book* about a woman who doesn’t want kids and who thinks no one should have kids (!?). I know it’s rather extreme, isn’t it? After these past few days, when I think of that woman, I just smile and think, “Darlin’ if you only knew…”
I wonder what happens when she throws up…
UPDATE: For a great post by IzzyMom related to the book referenced above (*by Corinne Maier entitled, “No Kid: 40 Reasons for Not Having Children”), click here.