It's finally getting chilly in our neck of the woods -- from a high in the mid-80s yesterday to a high of 60 degrees tomorrow -- and not a moment too soon. It's time for the traditional preschool field trip to the pumpkin patch. Yes, Noel will have the privilege of eating sorghum-smeared crackers and drinking raw apple cider, riding on hay bales, and listening to the story of Spookley the Square Pumpkin (who just doesn't fit in, despite being genetically engineered to pack more tightly in a tractor-trailor). After a respite last year due to Archer's graduation from preschool, the standard field trips are back with a vengeance for Cady Gray. And we can look forward to 2008 and 2009 versions before she moves on to elementary school and more academic pursuits.
(The other fall-themed field trip, apple picking, was canceled this year due to last spring's late frost decimating the Arkansas apple crop. So really, hon, you're getting off easy.)
Pumpkin patch visitation kicks off the preschool celebration of Halloween, culminating in trick-or-treating around the offices in the College of Education. Meanwhile, in elementary school, it's time for the annual anti-drug emphasis week, featuring theme days (wear crazy socks! dress up like a career you want to pursue!) and red ribbons.
But Halloween creeps into the curriculum in other ways. Today Archer told me that he learned about bones in P.E., which I have to think is connected to scary Halloween skeletons. He's most interested in the idea that kids have more bones that adults. "I have 300 bones," he informed me. "And you have 206 bones. Now two of them just grew together, and you have 205 bones!" (This is in keeping with Archer's general belief that whatever processes are happening now will continue happening throughout life; if bones fuse as one grows, decreasing the total number, then the older a person is the fewer bones she will have. The canonical example of this principle is that people keep getting taller and heavier throughout life, so that Archer plans to be ten feet tall and 300 pounds by the time he's our age.)
Other assertions that I had no way of checking out at the time: I have 54 bones in each hand, but Archer has 60 bones. (It seems that he was remembering the total number of bones in both hands -- each adult hand has 27 bones.) The longest bone in the body is "the thigh bone, or femur" (true).
It all puts me in mind of the Schoolhouse Rock song about bones, featuring the x-ray view of the barbershop quartet -- I always love the short squat skeleton of the oddball member. "Bones are heard of but seldom seen/'Cept each year 'round Halloween," as the song goes. I'm not sure why I'm never home when the kids are watching Science Rock these days; it always seems to be America Rock (which features the slambang song about women's suffrage but also the lame and frighteningly chaotic song about inventions). When Archer talked about his skull and knocked his knuckles against his head, I couldn't be sure whether the gesture came from the discussion in P.E., or from Schoolhouse Rock.