Just last week, Larry and I went to G's first grade class for "beach day." It's a day when the kids wear shorts and t-shirts and sunglasses and flip flops to school and shiver in the inadequately heated rooms while pretending it's summer. We were instructed to send a beach towel to school that day along with beach-y snacks and such to complete the illusion, as it were. The only thing missing was actual heat.
There was also a party at which the kids ate the aforementioned snacks and made crafts. They made little crabs out of egg cartons and beach scenes on paper and the like. Larry and I were one of a half dozen parents who showed up to chaperone. Larry was the only dad, of course. We ran the "games" section of the party, which was this sad little bingo game with a nautical theme. There were these oversized bingo cards with pictures instead of letters. The pictures were of things like bivalves and the Indian Ocean and scuba gear and coral reefs. At first Larry took the educational part of this very seriously. He would draw a card and call out the name of the picture, say "stingrays" and then read all the information on the back of the card about where they live and what they eat and all that, when the kids just want the next card. They want to win. Also they pretend to know what you're talking about when they don't. First graders are over everything. Over it. And when you try to tell them something, they say, "yeah, we know," even when they clearly, clearly don't.
So, eventually, the game picked up pace. And the kids were really into it. Seven-year-olds are pretty competitive, it turns out. And they pout when someone else is winning. So, Larry got to the card for the Titanic, and he'd learned his lesson. He didn't read out any of the information. But one of the girls playing said, "We know all about that. We read a book." I said, oh that's great and all. She said, "The boat hit an iceberg and it sank and everybody got on lifeboats." I said, well, that's pretty close. And one of the other girls who was playing said, "Well, not everybody. Just the women and children." And the rest of the kids playing all started nodding. "Yeah, women and children." These kids. They know it all.
And for some strange reason, Larry said, "Yeah, except for that Billy Zane." He was saying it mostly to me, trying to get me to crack up. "Sneakin' on that life boat," said Larry, shaking his head in disappointment. I was holding it together, but then one of the boys shook his head sadly and said, "Yeah, that Billy Zane. Sneaking on the wife boats." And then they all started saying it. And they were serious.
As we were leaving, G's teacher thanked us. She told us that the bingo game looked very intense. Larry said to her. "Um, if you're ever talking about the Titanic and the name Billy Zane comes up, just play along, okay?"
She just stared at him. I don't think we'll be invited back next year.