Valentine's Day came and went last week, which means that sugar-fueled Valentine's Day class parties have come and gone as well. After attending two of them last week, I got to thinking about these parties. I have been to something close to six million and four of them, so I feel like I am something of an expert. Are you? Take the quiz!
1. Classroom parties should consist of:
(a) a snack, an activity, and some mayhem
(b) goodie bags and organized activities
(c) at least one child under a desk chanting, "more sugar, more sugar, more sugar..."
Answer: (a) If we're being honest here, you could also have answered with option (c) and I would have counted you right. I've seen it happen at more than one party.
2. Snacks at a classroom party should include:
(a) anything with sugar in it
(b) salty snacks
(c) at least one plate of baby carrots
Answer: (a) There are some teachers (those who haven't entirely given up yet) who insist on making an attempt at including healthy fare at classroom parties. I admire those teachers, and I admire the students who actually take a carrot and put it on their plates, although I am convinced that most of them mistake the carrots for cheese puffs.
3. Classroom parties should be scheduled:
(a) on Friday—always on Friday
(b) on the holiday in question
(c) as late in the day as possible
Answer: (c) The day on which you celebrate is negotiable, but I have never seen a teacher be so reckless as to keep students after filling them with sugar. In fact, at parties I've attended, the teacher often starts throwing backpacks at kids whose parents are in attendence in an effort to get them out of the classroom.
4. Leftover snacks:
(a) get eaten by the teacher's children
(b) get eaten in an orgy of glee and relief in the teacher's lounge
(c) don't be ridiculous; there are no leftover snacks
Answer: I don't know. I've always wondered about this. I think sometimes they get saved for a future classroom snack time, but what does a teacher do with multiple one-pound bags of conversation hearts?
5. Classroom parties make teachers want to:
(a) hug all the kids they teach as they watch them joyously celebrate a holiday
(b) change professions; is it too late to be an accountant?
(c) call in for a substitute
Answer: Again, never having been noble enough to want to be a teacher, I don't know the answer to this one. I'll have you know though, every time I go into a classroom, for a party or otherwise, I am more and more impressed by the fortitude and dedication of those people who choose to teach children.
6. When there is still half an hour until dismissal and the party has dissolved into kids running laps around desks and asking for seconds on spoonfuls of frosting, they should be encouraged to:
(a) sit quietly and read at their desks
(b) go visit other classrooms to share their joy
(c) sit in a circle in the back of the room while the teacher makes every effort to unify them in an activity—any activity
Answer: (c) This often means the reading of a story, but at my youngest's party last week, it actually consisted of 15 children singing loud songs in French. It was an extremely appropriate end to the sugar-fueled mayhem.
7. If given an option to volunteer to bring an item to a class party, the smart parent should volunteer for:
(a) ice cream
(b) juice boxes
(c) anything non-perishable and light that can be sent in to the classroom ahead of time
Answer: (c) If you send in a baked good, you should make an effort to pretend that you are disappointed that MCPS policy states that all treats have to be store bought, even if the last time you used your oven was to burn Shrinky Dinks three years ago.
8. Classroom parties are:
(a) a wonderful celebration for kids who work so hard at school
(c) a learning opportunity
Answer: (d) All of the above. My youngest son spent the entire day before his Valentine's party talking about how he was going to get to eat ice cream at school. Ice cream! Best day ever! My autistic son spent his party working so very hard to pass out cards to his classmates, then retreated to the back of the room alone with a book. My oldest had spent a week leading up to his party organizing sales and manipulating numbers in his head for the Candy Gram sale in his math class. It turns out that class parties can be many different things.
Many thanks to our brave teachers who soldier through these parties multiple times a year. You are our national heroes. Enjoy your leftover conversation hearts.
Jean, a.k.a. Stimey, writes a personal blog at Stimeyland and runs an autism-events website for Montgomery County, Maryland, at AutMont. You can find her on Twitter as @Stimey and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/Stimeyland.