Tuesday, September 2, 2008

It's All About the Children, Part the First

That's what my insane friend Mrs. D'Onofrio says: "It's all about the children."

The hell you say.

I might be willing to spend my entire Labor Day weekend at a "shack" in Door County with 400 eighth-graders and their assorted siblings and pets--but I refuse to get on board with this "it's all about the children" insanity.

But I'm ahead of myself. Mr. and Mrs. D'Onofrio invited the whole eighth grade class to hang out at their Door County farm property for an end-of-summer-eat-play-chill-fest. From Monday to Labor Day Monday, people came and went. Mostly, they came. Twenty-two children, ten adults, two dogs, three goats, and a pot-bellied pig swarmed over the property, in and out of the two small farmhouses, up the hayloft, and across the soybean fields.

By the time I arrived with the two younger Peevies on Friday evening in my sangria-infused van, I was ready to sit back, put my feet up, and partake of an adult beverage. Seven or eight sweaty teenagers were playing basketball against the side of the barn, dribbling and passing on the packed dirt "court." C. Peevie, the clear leader in the Sweatiest Boy of All Time contest, held up the game to come over and say hi.

I hugged him gingerly, trying to avoid a massive sweat transfer. "C. Peevie!" I said, happily, "I missed you!"

"Hi, mom," he said. "Missed you, too." He had been at the farm since Wednesday afternoon, and I suspected that I was looking at two or more days of accumulated sweat and grime. I saw it as a positive thing: three girls had bravely joined the class outing--but what 13-year-old girl would want to get within a yard of a boy that smelled that bad? Apparently an eighth-grade boy's aversion to showering was the equivalent of an adolescent prophylactic.

Mr. D'Onofrio whipped up a dozen frozen pizzas for the younger set while the grown-ups patiently sipped margaritas. Then he set to work putting a more mature feast out, including steak, Boursin-and-spinach-stuffed chicken breasts, rice pilaf, fresh green beans, and gravy. If this is what Mrs. D. means by "it's all about the children," then I'm totally on board.

Between the six bedrooms and the four tents in the yard, everyone found a place to sleep. Mr. and Mrs. D. selflessly gave up their air-conditioned Chinese bedroom (adorably decorated with Chinese checkerboards and Chinese-themed art and bedspread) to me because I was cranky, seasonally allergic, sweaty, and menopausal. I believe that Mr. D'Onofrio actually slept in his car.

I'm pretty sure they were all a little afraid of me.

During the night, the tent that housed the three younger boys mysteriously collapsed. I believe it had something to do with the teenagers jumping up and down on it. So the pre-teens abandoned their collapsing abode and dragged their sleeping bags upstairs to the stuffy corner bedroom where Mrs. D. had finally collapsed at about 2 a.m.

Then, because "it's all about the children," she cheerfully got up with A. Peevie at 5 a.m. to take him downstairs to the bathroom. (He was too afraid to go down the dark stairs by himself.) Meanwhile, I slept blissfully, the white noise of the AC drowning out the sounds of things going tinkle in the night.

I awoke refreshed and cool as a cucumber, thanks to Mr. and Mrs. D's insane level of hospitality. When I left the Chinese Room, delicious smells of pancakes and sausage wafted toward me. Mr. D. was hard at work preparing breakfast for the tribe, which had grown since I went to sleep the night before.

Tune in tomorrow for It's All About the Children, Part the Second.


Anonymous said...

JRO: So sorry to have missed you, my darling! I loved last week with dear Mr. & Mrs. D. They were unbelievable.... I guess Mr. D didn't go to work afterall??? Anyway, when will you be commenting about the GOP VP choice? I can't wait.

p.s. Up at the shack, my 13 year old actually volunteered to shower on Friday morning. I was overjoyed.

E. Peevie said...

J-Ro--Me too. Mr. D left for work after whipping up a picnic feast for us at the pool on Saturday afternoon.

J-Cub is a very mature 13YO. I'm hoping a little of that maturity rubs off on C. Peevie.