Like most elementary schools, ours has a team of Safety Patrols chosen from the upcoming 5th grade class. These student Officers of the Law wear the bright orange Belt of Authority (reflective, yet jazzy!) and are responsible for monitoring and protecting their classmates at the bus-stops, on the bus, and on school grounds. Derek had brought up the subject a number of times ("Mom, do you think I would be a good patrol?" Very subtle!) so I knew how much he wanted to be chosen. At our school, there's no actual "application process"--it's all done by teacher recommendation--so as the end of the academic year approached both of us were waiting with bated breath for some word from the Patrol Supervisor (aka: the PE Teacher). Finally last Friday Derek burst in the door at 4:00 waving the Pledge that he has to memorize, grinning from ear to ear, and announcing that he was officially a member of the Patrol Team. Of course Mom was so proud...kids are chosen for their reliability, maturity, academic achievement, blah, blah, blah. This is the first time he's been selected for anything in his short life, and it seems like a pretty cool job to have at his school, so overall it was a Big Deal. It also means my oldest son is truly growing up...but then that misty rose-colored image was smashed by the following conversation, held in the car over the weekend:
Me: "Hey, kids, there's only a week-and-a-half of school left; what do you want to do this summer for fun? Here's a thought: should we go to another Planetarium since you enjoyed the one in New York so much?"
Riley: (enthusiastically) "I wanna go to the coldest planet (by which he means Pluto--he utterly refuses to acknowledge its reduced status) and freeze my BUTT!"
Me: sighing, rolling eyes (they can't see me from the back seat, so no Mom Foul can be called on this one!)
Derek: "Don't you mean URANUS?"
(At this point Riley clutches his stomach and folds over, overtaken with maniacal giggling. Meanwhile Royce--overgrown boy that he is--has his head bent over, hand firmly over his mouth, unsuccessfully attempting to stifle his own snickers.)
Me: (trying to put a lid on the situation before it spirals completely out of control) "Riley, you don't even know what that means!"
Riley: (merrily) "Yes I do; Derek explained it to me after school one day!"
Naturally, I gave up and retreated into a Dignified Mom Silence (which I save for just such occasions when there's really nothing else to say.) All I could think was: maybe it wasn't such a good idea to give this kid a badge and put him in charge of other young, impressionable people! I certainly hope that Special Sash is magical, causing whoever wears it to use their powers only for good...