Saturday, September 6, 2008

It's All About the Kids, Part II

Sometime during our stay in Door County, we lost the Sangria Poltergeist--although we still have the fumes and fruit flies. Maybe my mechanic is not so crazy after all. I'm kind of going to miss the Korean alt hip-hop, though.

On Saturday we took the herd to a campground to swim and to somehow lose six golf balls in the water hazard on the miniature golf course. (The only reason the golf balls matter is that it was my driver's license that was being held hostage until the golf balls were found and returned.)

We set up camp in a picnic table clearing, and while the kids splashed and dunked and slid down pool slides, Mr. D'Onofrio cooked up a storm. Actually, it was more like an entire tornado system.

Earlier that day Mr. D had created a huge batch of homemade potato salad, complete with hard-boiled eggs. We were originally planning on having deviled eggs, but we waited too long to peel the dang things, and the peeled eggs were so pock-marked they looked like ovoid golf balls.

I do not know what Mr. D included in his mayonnaise mixture, but it was so delicious that if they had trading cards for picnic side dishes, the Mr. D Unbelievably Delicious Potato Salad card would be as coveted as the 1909 Honus Wagner.

He laid out a feast of burgers, hot dogs, sausages, and a huge pan of BBQ ribs. Then, after everyone had piled their paper plates to the tipping point, he said, "I guess I'll throw the steaks on now." Oh yes, he did. We all just looked at him like, "Dude, you're insane." Then we looked at each other and shrugged. "OK," we said; and we proceeded to eat ourselves into the greatest meat coma of all time.

After we all regained consciousness, we drove north for the Big Sister Bay Fireworks Extravaganza. We spread our blankets and folding chairs on the lawn overlooking the bay, and waited for dusk to turn into dark. Someone near us had what sounded like a transistor radio tuned to a station playing patriotic numbers.

As the fireworks began, I suddenly missed Mr. Peevie, so I borrowed a cell phone. It was hard to hear, what with the bombs bursting in air and the rockets' red glare and all. We passed the phone around for a few peeps to say hi; and when C. Peevie started talking, I almost cried. "I really, really miss you, Dad," he said. "I wish you were here." He might be almost as tall as me, way smarter, and with twice as much B.O.--but inside, he's still just a little boy who needs his daddy. Aw.

When I saw that A. Peevie had snuggled into the lap of C. Peevie's friend X-Man to watch the light show, I got all misty again. (Anytime somebody is kind and gentle with one of my kids, it just makes me all verklempt. I can't help myself. Sometimes I am just a big crybaby.)

Eventually we made it home to the shack. The adults were exhausted, but the teenagers found a second wind and decided to hang out by the bonfire until the wee hours of the morning. Several had brought guitars, both acoustic and electric. They played music and talked and made s'mores--it was like a scene out of a teenage-angst-but-with-a-happy-ending movie.

Most of these eighth graders have been together since kindergarten. A couple have even left our school for other education options--but they still choose to be a part of this unique and diverse collection of kids from all across the city: black, Asian, white, faithful, faith-free, long-hairs, crew cuts. They are actors, musicians, artists, athletes.

Mrs. D'Onofrio might be a tiny bit insane for putting together this "It's all about the kids" Door County farm weekend--but sometimes insanity is a good thing. What a great finale to what feels like not just the end of the summer, but the end of an era. Next summer, these kids will be getting ready to head off to high schools across the city. Some will keep in touch; some won't.

But I bet when they're 20, or 30, or--heaven help us--40, memories from this farm weekend will still crop up from their subconscious. They'll smile, and one or two of them may even press a button on whatever cell phones have evolved into, and reach out to one of their eighth-grade buddies, and say, "Hey, remember when we went up to Door County that one week with that crazy Mrs. D'Onofrio? Fun times. Wanna get together for lunch sometime?"

Thanks for that, Mr. and Mrs. D.

(The fireworks photo comes from PD The other photos courtesy of J.Ro.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

JRO: I loved that and will only reiterate that we missed each other on that delicious trip. Mr. D also made a spectacular potato salad with grilled chicken in it. I think I ate it three days in a row. I'd eat it now if it were in front of me.

p.s. I'm hoping that this trip is repeated next year