The Day That Ben Franklin and Jimmy Doolittle Met Neil Armstrong and Christopher Columbus For Lunch In The Cafeteria

I’m just going to be bold and go ahead and say it.

May is the month of this school year that wants me to die.  My calendar looks like a page out of Taylor Swift’s day planner.  I seem to be every bit as busy as she is, but, sadly, Taylor and I part ways when her calendar reads HAIR AND MAKE UP every morning at the stroke of 9:00.  My calendar is all about JUST USE THE FIRST RUBBER BAND YOU FIND AND MAKE SOME SORT OF A MESSY BUN WITH YOUR HALF-DRIED HAIR BECAUSE LOW!  YOU HAVE A LOT TO DO TODAY, AND THE HAIR IS GOING TO HAVE TO TAKE A BACKSEAT TO PACKING ANOTHER HAM SANDWICH IN A LUNCHBOX AND WONDERING IF YOUR BOY WILL ACTUALLY EAT A BANANA THAT IS SOMEWHAT BROWN ON THE OUTSIDE.

Because also?  Why do we go to school beyond Memorial Day?  Why won’t this school year just end already?  I’ll tell you why.  The district planners got together and created a conspiracy to drive mothers crazy, because everyone knows that any time spent in school past the three-day Memorial Day weekend is time wasted and tax dollars that could be put to better use.


Oh, May, oh, glorious May!  I feel like I’m pushing my bike up the hill, and I need to sit down on someone’s decorative rock wall to catch my breath with everything that you’ve squeezed into my daily agendas.

And I’m still expected to produce more than Cheerios for dinner, too.

As luck would have it, the boy’s 5th grade class decided to put on a Living Museum.  Or maybe it was decided FOR THEM by their teachers, who are trying to dream up enough things to do to fill the time, since school doesn’t end before Memorial Day, like it should.  Each student had to come up with an American figure from the depths of the history books, and then they had to write a detailed paragraph that was packed with information about the person they were studying, so that they could recite this information, over and over, to people who “visited” the Living Museum.

And then each kid had to come up with a costume, and that is what made me sit down on the floor and put my head between my knees to catch my breath, because I don’t think it’s any hidden surprise around here that I most definitely DO NOT (heavy emphasis on the “do not”) have a basket of fabric scraps and old lace pieces and bits of twine and stray earrings and loose feathers that I can dip into whenever we  have a costume emergency.

I would just like to go on record and state that creating costumes out of thin air scares me more than making a deboned duck for dinner.

Because poultry bones and I have deep-seated issues that raise the hair on the back of my neck and makes me want to throw up in my mouth a little.  Plus, Julia Child’s recipe for the deboned duck has something close to 800 pages of instructions, which involve removing the duck’s skeleton, browning the duck, trussing the duck, and stuffing the duck, and let’s not even mention the crazy dough you have to create.  I’m sweating already, just thinking about it.

And yes.  THAT is exactly how I feel every October, when Halloween rolls around, and I am expected, as the mother of the house, to get my son outfitted properly so that he can make the rounds from one house to another collecting chocolate bars for our family.  Throw in a costume in the middle of May (THE MIDDLE!  OF MAY!  When we mothers shouldn’t have to be talking about costumes!), and Mama can bring herself to the brink of a meltdown that no bottle of wine is going to take care of.

I am the very reason that online costume shops exist.

The boy picked Benjamin Franklin as his character for the Living Museum, and instead of getting myself all worked up and asking, “What on earth did Ben even look like, anyway,” I simply logged on to GETYOURCOSTUMEHEREMAMA-dot-com and typed in the key words BENJAMIN FRANKLIN.

People!  Such costumes exist!  Thank heavens that he didn’t choose someone obscure like James Polk, because then what would we have done?  It’s not like you can get a gray wig and cravat at the drop of a hat.

So, for a wad of American dollars that was something less than the entire family eating at Jimmy John’s, we had a Ben Franklin suit expedited straight to our home, and GETYOURCOSTUMEHEREMAMA-dot-com sent me an email that said, “Thank you for your continued business that has catapulted you into the Gold Member Standing, and we’ll see you again in October, Mama.”

(This is where Kellen’s mama shakes her head and says, “Honestly.  Outfitting a child in scrap fabric and turning him into King Louis or Mowgli is not even a difficult task at all!”  Kellen’s mama’s spiritual gift is CREATING COSTUMES FROM THIN AIR ON THE FLY.  I didn’t get that gene.  Nor did I get the gene that can handle raw poultry.)

When the box arrived three days later on our doorstep, Benny Franklin was reborn.

I’m not even going to lie.  That wig and bald forehead made Hubs and I double over with laughter until I thought my side might explode.  Whatever we paid for that costume was well worth the thirty minutes we spent howling like hyenas watching old Little Rascals film clips.

And who knew that Ben had a gray mullet?  Apparently he was all about the party in the back.

Each of the kids was given a circular sticker, which they put on their hands to serve as an ON BUTTON.  They each maintained a frozen pose, like they were wax figures in a museum, until someone pushed the sticker buttons.  Then they came to life and recited their memorized paragraphs with detailed information about their historical person from America’s history books.

Because I had to teach PE on Wednesday afternoon when the real performance happened, the boy’s teacher let me sneak in to see their dress rehearsal on Tuesday, and I was plum tickled with all the costumes.

This is where I wax sentimental, because this group of kids has all been together since kindergarten, through the thick and thin of things, and now!  We are a week away from FINISHING ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, people.


Bringing to an end.

What we started in kindergarten is coming to a close.  I can’t even talk about it without a full Ugly Cry Breakdown happening.  These kids are all amazing, and I could not have asked for a better group of friends for the boy to grow up with.  Jesus was very generous to our family with these children who have surrounded the boy at his school.

Kellen was Jimmy Doolittle in the Living Museum.  Honestly, I had no idea WHO Jimmy Doolittle was, because I must have been talking during my sophomore American History class when he was introduced.  I pushed Kellen’s button, and I learned all about who this mysterious character was and his suicide bomber mission during World War II.

And no.  I don’t think you can type in the key words JIMMY DOOLITTLE at the online costume shop and expect to find an Army jacket in response.  But that’s okay, because don’t forget what Kellen’s mama’s spiritual gift is.  I’m sure she just happened to have that coat hanging in her closet, because she said to herself, “One day, I may need this sucker for a costume in the middle of crazy May.”

Carter was Crazy Horse, and I am proud to say that I embellished his face with a white lightning bolt, which is the full extent of what I can do in the line of costume design.  If you need a bolt of lightning, I can do that, but don’t expect anything more.

My spiritual gift is typing nonsense, not costumes.

Eli came as Christopher Columbus to the Living Museum.

If I was anything of an accomplished photographer, I would have known what settings to use on my camera when Christopher Columbus was STANDING RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME, straight out of the pages of America’s history, with a big window smack behind him.  Being unskilled in the area of great photography, I just ended up with grainy snapshots.

This next picture kills me, because WHAT are Jimmy Doolittle and Ben Franklin talking about, as they wave their hands frantically, and is Chris Columbus suffering from some form of stroke in the background, or has he been hit with a poisonous dart from some jungle warrior?

Enzo was Neil Armstrong, and I had to ask him if he suffered from the air sickness, as well as HOW ON EARTH DID YOU USE THE BATHROOM IN AREAS OF ZERO GRAVITY?

Bek was disguised as Orville Wright.

Marissa made me PLUM HOOT WITH THE GIGGLES, as she showed up as General Custer.  The mustache made out of a carpet remnant had me at HELLO.  I wanted to put a blue ribbon on her and nominate her for an Academy Award for Best Costume in a Living Museum Presentation.

Thing 2 came to the performance, too, but he wasn’t all that interested in honing his history knowledge for future appearances on Jeopardy.  Thing 2 was exhausted from all the I DON’T LOVE TO NAP DURING THE DAYTIME HOURS ANY LONGER, so he caught a little snooze and stayed quiet.

Mikayla came as Hilary Clinton.

Patrick was Robert Kennedy.

Ciara was Sally Ride, and she gave a fine performance in her space suit.  Sally and Neil Armstrong lamented the fact that GOOD GRIEF and HOLY SMOKES!  THESE ASTRONAUT SUITS ARE HOT ON EARTH, and WHY DOESN’T OUR SCHOOL HAVE AIR CONDITIONING and WHO DECIDED THAT SCHOOL HAD TO CONTINUE BEYOND MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND?

Quinn stole borrowed a wheelchair from the local hospital and came as Franklin Roosevelt.  He was plum thrilled with his character choice, because the entire Living Museum presentation was over an hour long, and YES!  When you’re in a wheelchair, you get to sit through the entire thing!

Gracie was dressed as Mary Anning.

Isabella was Susan B. Anthony.

Ellie came as Annie Oakley, and I didn’t doubt that she could have shot an apple off the top of my head with one bullet.  Ellie is a cowgirl in real life, and I honestly think that I have  missed my calling, because I now wish that I was a real cowgirl who could have been a Rodeo Princess.  My friend Mika keeps insisting that it’s never too late to follow  one’s dreams, so I may learn to ride a horse properly this summer and start competing with the teenage girls for the chance to ride around the arena during the bronc riding with a giant American flag.

Nichole and Mikayla had some enormous grins during break time, when all the wax museum figures were told, “Get a drink.  Get some fresh air outside.  Loosen your ties.  Try to find some comfort for five minutes, before the second half of the dress rehearsal starts.”

Yes.  They are twins.  I want to give them T-shirts which read COPY and PASTE.  I love them both dearly.

And that, people, was a wrap with the 5th graders’ Living Museum performance.

It’s not every day that you can see Ben Franklin, Sally Ride, Christopher Columbus and Crazy Horse all in the same room.  The kids did an amazing job, and I want to gather them all close, like a mama hen with her chicks and whisper, “Please don’t grow up!  Please don’t end this thing called elementary school!”

But really?  That would just be ONE MORE THING that I had to do in May, and I’m trying to cut back and find ways to cross things OFF OF my to-do lists.  But for these kids, I would make an exception.

Dear 5th Graders,

Oh, how I love y’all.  I love y’all with an enormous passion that started clear back in kindergarten, when you could barely spell your first names without writing one of the letters backwards.  Please stay little for a while longer.  Please show me your missing front teeth one more time.  Please get excited about pajama day at school one more time, when y’all brought your teddy bears in for the day.  Don’t go to junior high school yet!  Mama isn’t ready for it yet, and I’m guessing neither are your real mothers!



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *