This morning after recess, we took a few minutes out of class time to practice for the talent show. With the big night only two weeks away, the kids have been buzzing with excitement, visions of their own American Idol moments dancing through their heads as we work on our bring-down-the-house kindergarten musical numbers: Magalena Hagalena, Grandpa’s Farm, and the class favorite, Fishy.
“Have you ever seen a fishy on a hot summer’s day?
Have you ever seen a fishy out swimming in the bay?
With his hands in his pockets and his pockets in his pants,
Have you ever seen a fishy do the Hootchie-Kootchie Dance?”
We’ve sung it a thousand times, but during today’s practice session, the giggles and squeals grew progressively louder, exceeding the usual gleeful enjoyment that accompanies each child’s personal interpretation of the “Hootchie-Kootchie Dance.”
I looked around for the source of the uproar, and there he was.
His jeans were puddled down around his knees, his Disney Cars underwear boldly flashing back and forth as he clapped in time to the song’s rowdy chorus.
“Caleb!” I screeched.
The note of hysteria in my voice finally penetrated the cloud of delighted chaos that had overtaken the class at the sight of one of their classmates in his underwear. A hush descended as they all waited to see what hideous repercussions might befall the perpetrator of such a shocking act.
“What are you doing?” I hissed. “Pull your pants up! Why are you doing that???”
He did as I asked. Finally, nearing tears, he explained, “Mom, I was just showing everybody the Underpants Dance!”
Oh, no, no, no.
I recognized that dance. Somewhere inside, I had always known that my carefree, lackadaisical attitude toward juvenile reading material would one day come back to haunt me. As it turned out, today was that day.
My baby, my precious little boy, had been hopelessly corrupted…by Captain Underpants.
I tried to continue with the class, but, as with a natural disaster or a cataclysmic world event, there was no going back to normal life without a pause for closure. We finished singing our other songs, and I looked around to see Caleb, dejected, staring at the floor, barely moving his lips. As the class took their seats, I gently asked him, “What’s wrong, bub?”
“I’m embarrassed about myself, Mom.”
“It’s okay, buddy,” I reassured him with a hug, having had enough time to recover my own composure. “You didn’t know. And everybody in here still likes you just fine. Right, class?”
“Right!” they echoed dutifully.
“For future notice, though–and this is a rule for everyone,” I emphasized, raising my gaze to take in the entire room, “Underwear is private. You’re not supposed to show it to anyone else. Okay?”
And just like that, it was over. We moved on to math, and the incident wasn’t mentioned again all day.
Still, a part of me is waiting for that phone call from an irate parent demanding to know just what kind of talent show we’re running here.