A Rite Of Passage…

For years I’ve heard that one of the problems with modern society is that it lacks significant and meaningful rites of passage. You know, like the Lakota Sun Dance ceremony where you pierce your pectoral muscles with hooks and the hooks are attached to ropes that go over a pole and have the large skull of a buffalo hanging on them (there are variations to this). Well, this was the big week as Sofia began kindergarten on Tuesday and has full days from 9 to 3:45. I had friends that had warned me. They said, “oh, first day of kindergarten is brutal”. I thought, well, the bug is longing for new kids to play with all the time maybe it won’t be as brutal for her as I’ve been warned. Anyway, I was concerned but figured it was something that has to happen regardless. So Tuesday morning, Mom and I take Sofia to the school and they allowed us into the kindergarten room until she found her seat and we said goodbye and as we left the building and got out on the front sidewalk, with the picture of our little bug bravely sitting in her little chair in our heads, the tears started coming down our faces. It was then that I realized that my friends meant that the first day of kindergarten was brutal for me, not for her. And the rite of passage isn’t so much a child’s first day of kindergarten as it is dropping your child off for the first day and going home to the empty, quiet house where nothing seems right and wishing 3:45 would get here faster so we could make sure it wasn’t traumatic for her. What an overwhelming feeling that I had just left my child in the hands of people I hardly know anything about… yuck. So Sofia loves school and wants to go on Saturday and Sunday too… yeah, right, we’ll see how long that lasts. I took her and dropped her off solo on Thursday and I thought everything was cool but just as I said goodbye, she broke down, much in the way I was afraid she would on the 1st day. She grabbed my leg and didn’t want to let go. That was a long day too, of course, she probably got over it in about 2 minutes and it bothered me all day. When we visited the school during the spring to decide which one we wanted (you have to list 1st, 2nd, 3rd choices here), they mentioned that parents could have lunch with the kids and on Thursday, Mom said that she had to remember to ask on Friday when and where, etc. Later when we were all in the car and Mom was telling me that she had asked, etc., Sofia said, “what are you two talking about?” Mom said, “I asked the teacher today about coming up and having lunch with you on certain days”. Sofia got a disapproving look on her face immediately and said, “but I wanna eat with my friends”. So there you have it. Without further ado, it is clear from the comments on the last post that some prefer pictures of kids, dogs, etc., so here’s a few of Sofia the photographer (her latest passion) with peach stains on her face and the demon dog herself…

I also was thinking about the previous post’s grad school story and thought I’d go ahead and tell another college tale. For those of you who are too busy to read a long post (after all, I’m too busy to write 5 small posts), I’m putting in this little warning… STOP HERE.

This is a story about me and Matt from SIU-C in the sculpture program. I always called Matt, Mattie Muckchucker and he’s the one in this picture with the moustache (the other girl in the pic is our good friend Randy)…

At SIU-C, the foundry consisted of 2 long, parallel quonset huts with a regular door at one end and a huge sliding door at the other on both. When we would work on our assistantship jobs and we weren’t actually pouring bronze and it was cold out, we would leave the big sliding doors shut and locked. Now Mattie and I were making a small burnout kiln I think or it might have been an actual furnace for melting the metals. Anyway, we had a metal barrel that was about 3 feet tall or so and we first poured a 3 inch or so “floor” on the bottom of the barrel with castable refractory cement. Next we cut 3 circles out of particle board and put illustration board around the 3 circles for a cylinder to place in the center of the barrel so we could pour more castable around the outside. So on this particular day, Mattie and I came into the foundry section of the foundry (where the big doors were… all the other students that were working were out in the front room) and proceeded to take the particle board and illustration board cylinder from the middle of the barrel because the cement had hardened. The top wood circle came out easily and then we ripped the illustration board down a ways and it was wet. This is when we realized how stupid we had been and that water had soaked through the illustration board. To make a long story a tiny bit shorter we were able to get everything out of the hardened cement except the wooden circle on the bottom because the cement between the middle and bottom circle had slumped in a bit so the hole was smaller than the wood. Here’s where we had a meeting of the minds… how to get the wooden circle out of the bottom of the barrel? Well, we couldn’t fit a saw down in there and we hacked at a bit with some chisels with not much progress and finally we decided… we should burn it out. Yeah… it’s all about the fire anyway. But how? Naphtha of course… I think we chose naphtha because it was handy. We agreed that the naphtha would soak into the particle board and after a bit of a wait it would burn the wood. Dolts. Anyway, we poured quite a bit in there and waited for it to “soak in”. Then we stood on opposite sides and Mattie got some matches and lit one and threw it in. We were very wary and were shying backwards when he tossed it in but nothing happened. We edged up ever so slowly and there it was, a dead match on the wooden circle. So match #2… nothing, same thing we peer over the edge of the opening to see the impotent match. Match #3… nothing, but this time we both simultaneously leaned forward just a smidge earlier than the other two times and WHOOOMPH, the naphtha ignited and blew a forceful column of fire about 7 or 8 feet straight up. I looked up in shock at Mattie and his moustache, eyelashes and eyebrows were singed at least halfway off but the best part is that the blast had blown his hair straight up and burned it into place. Of course, the very same thing happened to me except I didn’t have a ‘stache at the time. So there we were Laurel and Hardy or the 2 stooges staring at each others burnt hairdos frozen in an upward coif and knowing that in order to assess the damage, we would have to go out through the gauntlet of other students to get to the other quonset hut where our studios were. This was definitely NOT an option because we would never have lived it down… we might have actually garnered new nicknames because of it. We couldn’t get out the locked doors and we were trapped. Amazingly I have forgotten how we got hold of our friend Thad, but I think we simply sat there until he came wandering in and we talked him into going outside and unlocking the big sliding doors and then we snuck across the way to our studios and tried to comb the burnt hair out of the unburnt hair. Later, we entered where the other students were and of course, they could smell the burnt hair and we still looked ridiculous but not nearly as ridiculous as we did before we did damage control and of course we were able to have a modified version of the story to make us look less like morons. OK, here’s another drawing Sofia and I collaborated on…

For the uninitiated, most of the characters in the wizard of 0z are present. And last but not least here’s some greenware…

I’m a bit ambivalent about these beer glasses because they are taking a good amount of time, especially the last one, and I’m using acrylic medium instead of shellac and so far my tests have been just a bit shy in the performance area. So, I’m not thrilled about spending so much time when I’m not sure I can have it work well all the way through. I’m letting it dry for a week I think just to be sure and then I guess I’ll know.

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12 Responses to “A Rite Of Passage…”

  1. ron Says:

    That story gave me a good laugh for my Sunday morning. And that’s a great pic of you!
    Hope the coming week is good for Sofia at school and good for you and Mom at home.

  2. Gordo Says:

    We had both of our boys in nursery school before they started Kindergarten, so that rite of passage started earlier. Philip, who’s turning 13(!) on the 27th, was a wreck. It literally took weeks before I could reliably leave him without some kind of performance. I usually snuck out and by the time he realized I was gone, all was fine.

    Cameron, 6 and going to grade 1 in Sept, was completely the opposite. The first day, I got an absent-minded “Bye, Dad!”. He barely looked up from playing. LOL

  3. meredith@whynot Says:

    I will have to do two comments since if I read the other story I will forget to comment on Sofia and Kindergarten.
    The first day my daughter and I walked my son to his class we just stood outside the door after they took him in- I did not know where to go or what to do- he had been my side kick along with his sister for over 5 years.
    I finally walked away and put our daughter in the car who proceeded to wail over and over I want my brother – you can’t keep my brother I want my…….. all the way to the pottery class I was taking at the time.
    We would drop him at school and drive the 25 minutes to my school where Anna attended the daycare. This went on for two weeks- I knew exactly how she felt.
    Life- as you know it has taken a little turn…
    Now I am going to read the other story-

  4. meredith@whynot Says:

    ah youth….and matches- bad combo- but funny!

  5. Tracey Says:

    Oh man! I’ll have to come back for part two, I got through part one in tears! I remember exactly how that feels to drop your kid off on the first day. It’s horrible horrible horrible! I did really well through the the first day, but we picked Wesley up on that first day, which was a half day, and took her out to lunch to celebrate. While sitting in the restaurant listening to her sounding so grown up talking about school I just cracked, sat right there in the booth and cried. I started crying as soon as the image of Sophia sitting in her little seat being brave and scared all at the same time came into my mind. I know exactly what you guys are going through. Now, next year at this time you will see a tragic post from me as I drop my daughter off at COLLEGE!!

  6. M@ Says:

    First… I too cried when I dropped my boy off for the first day of Kindergarten. He had been to pre-K and everything, but there’s something about big kid school that tore me up. As soon as I got to work that day I wrote a memo about the experience which I plan to share with him when he’s done with high school in three years.

    Second… as for the explosion, you left out an important detail… this was a forced air model we were building, and we turned on the forced air. We waited around for a minute or so after turning on the forced air, and nothing happened. We discussed the fact that if we got near that thing it would surely blow. Unfortunately, the naptha had been listening to our conversation, and was sitting down there just giggling, waiting for us suckers to look in the top. The two of us simultaneously looking in there was just too much for the laws of physics, with its own sense of humor, to resist.

    I also want to thank you for not making a big deal out of which of us had the bright idea to put naptha in that thing. The moral of the story is not to speak in the presence of naptha. At least that’s what I think we were supposed to learn from this.

  7. Judy Shreve Says:

    I moved Luke into his first apartment today. He took all of his stuff out of our house — he doesn’t live here anymore — but alas – the trauma is only to the parents as you soon realized. And he’ll probably move back in . . . .
    Sofia is going to rock that kindergarden — she is so far ahead than most of those kids sitting beside her — I hope the teacher can keep up.
    And soon you get used to the quiet and will enjoy your studio time & then just dance for joy when it’s time for her to come home — the best of all worlds!

  8. Gordo Says:

    Holy cow, how did I miss the naptha story the first time! LOL! Boy, do I have stupid Gordo and fire stories. I’ll go post a couple at my blog. 😀

  9. The fire! It burns! Says:

    […] nothing really dangerous. Honest. Jim’s post today reminded me of a couple of stories about fire and I had to come back to […]

  10. ang Says:

    hillarious jim the 3 stooges indeed hehehehehe!! love all the testing stuff it has to be done…nice one!!! and i’m sure you’ll settle into a routine sood with jim time and sofia time i love the way she’s photographing her work!!! diggin your online piece too sweeeeet! :))

  11. Mishmash Says:

    Super WOW and inefffableness…and now those drawings are just making me jealous…but please don’t stop.

  12. Chavron Says:

    That’s a weird halloweeny photo.

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