A Little Piece About Peaceful Learning

Summertime…and the learning is peaceful…

We had a lovely time at the Custer’s Last Stand Festival of the Arts this weekend, even though the “Arts” part was your standard street faire fare of patchouli, woven bracelets, and shapeless, vaguely ethnic, sun dresses.

I think I even saw a painting or 2 of Dawn of Aquarius style sunrises with human silhouettes…and dolphins.

Sunday was HOT.  But the kids did better than expected for the 3 hours that we wandered thru Evanston’s multicultural melting pot.  I thought we blended in quite nicely, though one woman complained to us that the unwashed masses from Chicago were slowly ruining the event…before we revealed that we were part of this migration north.

She practically choked on the self-important foot she had thrust so far into her mouth.

General Custer himself made an appearance, even though I mistook him for Tweetie Bird in a Civil War uniform.  Gabe mistook him for a yellow-headed freak of nature which sent him screaming down the cobblestone path as fast as his 2-year-old legs could carry him.  That poor actor in his poorly ventilated suit tried to make nice with now-terrified Gabe – waving, doing a little jig – but Gabe would have none of it.  Once he was safely in Lori’s arms, he shook his fists and shouted, “NO NO NO!!!  DON’T DO THAT!!!!

He’s had the same reaction to the porcelain dog at his grandma’s house.

I think we need to get him out more.

He settled down once we reached the stage area, though we had to wait 20 minutes for MC Blackfoot to wrap up him polemic about the inaccurate portrayal of Native Americans in the media before we got to the actual performance.

Seriously dude?  This is Evanston.  You’re preaching to the converted.

The performance itself was nice – an audience participation Peace Dance that our kids refused to join.  It always surprises me that we’ve raised sideline kids.  They’re content to watch, but god forbid they should be in the spotlight, even if it’s with a group of soooo Evanston Race-for-the-Cure, March-Against-Racism, Insert-Cause-Here T-shirt clad families.

Then again, we’re not Wiggle Worm folk.

We’re the ones rolling our eyes in the back row wondering when the backwards Alphabet Song – turn your back to the audience ha ha HA – will finally end.  We’ve become less cynical now that we have children, but it’s telling that a silent Comic Bookstore Guy “duh” accompanies most of Nick’s responses.

“Sweetie, get your shoes.  We’re ready to go.”
“They’re sneakers….(duh!)

It’s something we’re working on.

The highlight for Nick was a life-size Super Mario Brothers Tennis EXTRAVAGANZA (read: one big ad for the Nintendo Game – Play real tennis!  Play fake tennis!  Go home and demand that your parents buy you this game RIGHT NOW!)

He played for a good 20 minutes, though when it was time to go I had to football-hold him out of the game room since he refused to put the Nintendo 3DS after 3 5-minute warnings.  At some point, he will be too big, and I will be too decrepit, to do this.  I think he knows this, and is just biding his time.

There has to be a better way to extract him from these things.

Once we got home, I thought the fair would become just another faded family memory from the summer of 2012.  But instead, Nick and Gabe recreated their own Native American/Pentecostal/White Party version using the mini trampoline as their stage and singing into plastic yard stakes – pointy side down, of course.

“The World is Spirit!  Spirit is the World!  Everybody has Spirit in your Soul!”  Nick sang at the top of his lungs while Gabe did some sort of Ninja Sword dance with the stake.  Oddly enough, the non-stop reggaeton bass from the apartment building next door only enhanced the experience.  At the end of the concert, Nick captured a firefly between his hands and walked over to me, Lori and Olivia as we swung gently in the hammock.

“This is a Peace Fly,” he said, lowering his voice to a reverent whisper.  “We have to set it free to spread peace.”

“Happy Birthday,” Gabe added randomly, though equally reverent.

We watched the firefly take off from Nick’s hands.

Passive, maybe.
Receptive, definitely.

They really do take everything in.