The day I discovered my middle son making confetti
, I decided I had better plan something exciting for the last day of school. He had half a lunch bag full of confetti which he had patiently punched with my three-hole punch
gadget. Confiscating this would be a serious matter to him, so I had to do something.
"Don't you think we ought to do something special the last day of school?" I asked.
"Yes," he replied, "it has to be special."
"How about a ghost hunt?" I asked, casting desperately for something different.
"What's a ghost hunt?" he asked suspiciously.
"Just wait and find out," I bragged. "Invite all the kids in the neighborhood, and we'll celebrate the close of school."
He surrendered the confetti, and rushed off to tell his friends. I, content that the crisis had passed, went about my daily tasks not worried the least about my commitment. As school drew toward its close, mountains of work piled up on me, and I didn't even have time to worry about the ghost hunt. The few times it crossed my mind, I thought I might commandeer my eldest son who would be home from college by then. Perhaps he would haunt the crumbling house at the end of our street for me.
Then the last day of school was here. My eldest son obviously would be no help. He had learned the importance of sleep at college, but he slept in the day and lived at night. The last thing on earth he would want to do would be to drag himself out of bed to be a ghost in the daytime. "I'll think of something," I kept saying all morning through the tension of closing classes. We dismissed at noon, and the youngsters were coming at one.
"Be creative," I told myself desperately as I rushed home. I grabbed a hunk of large sheets of newsprint, crayons, pastels, and magic markers, and put them on the patio table.
The children were excited when they came, of course. We sang mean songs about teachers and books, and then they asked me about the ghost hunt.
"If everyone will quiet down," I said, "I'll tell you all about it. You have to be quiet to catch a ghost!"
These were grade school children of a great variety of ages, but they settled down to listen, curious about the great adventure.
"I want you all to go out and hunt for ghosts," I said, "and when you see one, you are supposed to come back here and draw me a picture of what it was like. Every child who catches a ghost like this will receive an ice cream bar."
"Does anyone else have to see it?" questioned Charles pragmatically.
"No," I replied, "you can hunt together if you wish, but chances are slim you'll catch a ghost unless you are alone. You have to be quiet or you'll frighten them away. All I want is a picture of what it was like."
Off they went with each rushing in a different direction to catch a ghost. I turned to find Martha standing hesitatingly by the table. She was a product two parents with PhD's. She hadn't even been taught to believe in Santa Claus.
"Mrs. James," she asked "What if you just see it in your mind?".
"Why that's fine Martha," I said. "That's where we see everything, you know. Our eyes have nerves that lead to the brain, and until the light waves reach the brain, we don't see anything" That sounded scientific enough to suit her, and she rushed off to join the others in their hunt.
One by one they returned, breathless, excited, and creative. June had gone home and to get a special lens used for viewing depth in three-d movies and her drawing had a weird slant. Jim saw such a big ghost that he could scarcely get it on one page. Each one found a ghost and every ghost was different.
We made a display on the patio, putting Martha's stilted man alongside the monster with five eyes my youngest son had seen. They all had exciting adventures to relate about experiences they had encountered during their hunts, and the ice cream disappeared as magically as the ghosts had faded when anyone tried to capture them. It was a nice contrast to school.
The years when my children were small were neighborhood years, and the Chatham kids are very much a part of our lives. I've always loved Martha more than I had a right to love her because she's a girl, and I have sons only. We joke about our "Sunday family," the group of youngsters we took to Sunday school for years, but it's more than a joke. We are knit together in a spiritual dimension that seldom shows on the surface, but is very much there.