Ancient History

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When I went on the Day out in Denver field trip with Aidan, I rode a school bus for the first time in nearly 20 years. I had a great time on the bus. Potholes still shot me out of my seat, which is just as exhilerating at 30-something as it is at 10.

Yesterday, I got to ride a school bus again. It lost it charm. Its Ferris Buellerian tendencies were more apparent than on my previous ride. I think it was because I was with 60 first-graders. We went to the pumpkin patch, a far-away pumpkin patch. A far, far, far away pumpkin patch with a bus driver who believed in closed windows.

I shared a seat with Ryley and a good buddy of his who was assigned to be in our group. I sat on the end of the seat, nearest the aisle. Across from our seat sat two little boys. One was very talkative. He pointed out the businesses as we rumbled by, the other cars, asked if we were getting closer, and talked of his previous pumpkin patch experiences. Almost in the same breath as “there’s the post office!” was “my mom and dad aren’t together anymore…”

“Oh…,” I said. He surprised me. I wanted to say something very reassuring, like “maybe they will get back together,” but that would be very foolish, cruel, and it is none of my business.

He continued, “My mom lives with her mom and dad at their house and me and my dad live with his girlfriend at her house.”

I told him that must not be easy and he said no.

The boy next to him, who had been very quiet, listening to our conversation, suddenly said “Well, my mom watches Alias all the time!”

I wanted to hug them. They both looked mournful, until someone started the knock-knock jokes. Those ended when it was apparent they weren’t very funny. One of the other children in my group told a joke and I’ve been chuckling ever since. The simplest jokes are the best:

Why did the roll of toilet paper roll down the hill?

To get to the bottom.

We arrived at the pumpkin patch, where we were escorted to a barn with a sign letting us know we were now students at Corn College. We learned nearly everything we use in our daily lives was once grown on a farm. Then we were taken, via tractor-pulled wagon, out to the pumpkin patch. We could each pick a pumpkin, as long as it was no larger than our heads. The kids debated the merits of nearly every pumpkin in sight—too big, too little, too smushy, too crooked, too muddy, too orange. Each child eventually found their ideal pumpkin, each child was sincere in the search for just the right one. so sincere

We tromped up and down the rows. I found my pumpkin and freed it from the shriveled vine. Every time I visit a pumpkin patch, I think of Linus and his futile wait for the Great Pumpkin. Linus sat in the most sincere pumpkin patch he could find, knowing the Great Pumpkin sought sincerity in his landing-patch. But the Great Pumpkin never picked his patch.

The kids struggled to carry their pumpkins, especially when they found the stems to be thorny. I offered to help, but none of them wanted me to carry their pumpkins. We climbed back in the wagon. The boy with the separated parents and the boy with the Alias watching mom cradled the pumpkins in their laps for the bumpy dirt road ride back to the barn. They took good care of their new treasures.

There were all so sincere, wide-eyed, earnest.

Too bad Linus isn’t around. I would give him a hot tip on where the Great Pumpkin is going to land this year.

8 comments to Sincerity

  • The choices people make once they become parents astound me. Not that I know all of what is going on but it seems that people give up too easily on relationships and TV and other desires take precedence over children. Sigh…At least there are knock-knock jokes and pumpkin patches to add a little joy.

  • Mom-of-mopsy

    Your children are so fortunate and blessed to have two great, loving, and involved parents, and a host of other family that loves and cares about them.

  • Such joy and such heartache wrapped up in one little person. I can’t imagine how difficult that must be for a child, yet my own hubby lived through it when he was just a little guy. Makes me appreciate my parents and their 50+ years together that much more!

  • What an emotional bus ride that must have been. I’m sure you were a ray of sunshine in those little boys’ day, a listening ear and a smile.

    That joke cracked me up, I can’t wait to tell it to my kids tomorrow. Especially my own little first grader, she will giggle and giggle when she finally “gets” it.

  • That poor boy. It’s so sad when they need and want to talk about something so important and the only way they know how to, is by just bringing it into normal conversation

  • I enjoyed reading this because of your writing and because I like kid stories. (It’s that teacher thing.)

    Ditto what everybody else said.

    I’ll have to add that joke to my one joke repertoire.

    BTW…We just watched the Great Pumpkin last night…complete with hot chocolate and marshmallows, 2 neighbors, and matching cups & saucers. Boo was laughing hysterically at Snoopy as the Red Baron. Goofy girl.

  • That toilet paper roll joke is a funny one. My husband and I are chuckling over it.

    At least Alias will be cancelled before Sydney can tell on me. And then she’ll say, “My mom doesn’t watch tv, all she does is blog!”

  • Yes, that’s a day at school. I love meeting parents like you. I love pumpkins too. One of my favorite creations.

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