Saturday, August 7, 2010

Simon Says

Appeared in the Charleston Gazette, July 15, 2007

When our granddaughter, Danielle, was in the second grade, her Physical Education teacher asked her students to invite a parent or grandparent to come and participate in a PE class with them.  Since her mother couldn’t get away from work, Danielle pestered me until I agreed to go.

I was reluctant because this event was scheduled for 8:30 a.m.—and I don’t do mornings!  I often stay up until the wee hours and then sleep until the “crack of noon.”  So, 8:30 a.m. is the middle of the night for me. However, this was my precious granddaughter, and I would grin and bear it, just this once, for her.

To make matters worse, when I got up on the appointed morning, it was pouring rain and foggy.  I dislike rain almost as much as I dislike mornings.  Together, they are intolerable.

I barely made it to the school on time, but there was no place to park.  After driving around the block a couple of times, I finally found a space, but it was close to a fire hydrant.  Since I was running late, I maneuvered my car into it anyway… mumbling to myself that I’d probably have a parking ticket when I got back.

I got inside just in time to find Danielle and her classmates heading for the gym.  I was invited to join them, along with other parents and grandparents.  We sat down and waited while each student proudly introduced his or her guest.

Then the teacher told us to stand up and form a large circle.  First, we did some stretching exercises, which were easy even for us older folks.  Then she said, “Now we’re going to play a game.  How about Simon Says?”  The kids squealed with delight.

The teacher started:  “Simon says, ‘Clap your hands’.”  Every hand clapped.

Then:  “Simon says, ‘Stomp your feet’.”  All feet stomped.

“Simon says, ‘Stick out your tongue’.” Right on cue, every tongue was out.

“Touch the top of your head.”

Suddenly, everyone was staring at me and more than a dozen small index fingers pointed in my direction.  I felt my face redden as the sound of raucous laughter filled the room!   I had been the only one tricked.

The teacher clapped her hands loudly to calm the children and said, kindly, “Now, children, don’t laugh at her.  She’s new.”

“Let’s continue”, she said, and thankfully, the room became quiet again.

 “I can do this.” I thought, determined to pay closer attention.

“Simon says, ‘stand on your right foot’.”  Good!

“Simon says, ‘stand on your left foot’.”   Check!

“Simon says, ‘touch your nose’.”   Done!

By this time, Danielle was watching me closely and I smiled letting her know that I had things under control.

Still smiling and feeling very confident, I heard….

“Turn around”…and was more than halfway through a 360-degree turn before it occurred to me that Simon didn’t say…and I was the only one turning.

The laughter was even louder than before, and the fingers pointed more accusingly.  Danielle put her hands on her tiny hips, glared at me impatiently and shouted, “Maw-Maw!”  I wanted to crawl under the bleachers and hide.

The teacher halted the confusion by saying, “Alright, children, line up and we’ll get a drink of water.”  The class was over.  I said “good-bye” to Danielle and started toward the door, hoping to slip out unnoticed, but the other parents and grandparents rushed toward me—smiles flashing—offering comments like, “Don’t worry about it.” And, “We all make mistakes.” (Although I could swear some were smirking).

I finally walked through the big front doors into bright sunshine, which lifted my spirits…as it had the fog.  Reaching my car, I was happy to find that there was no parking ticket.  I slid in under the steering wheel, started the car, and burst into laughter.  In spite of everything, I had enjoyed myself.

I sincerely hope that Danielle forgave me for embarrassing her.  She must have—because   she never mentioned it again—but on the other hand, she never invited me to another school activity either.

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