I have learned a lot chairing the book fair. I've learned about the kids. I've learned about the school staff. And I've learned valuable life lessons (more on these later).
1. Middle school kids start out enthusiastic about the book fair. By the time they hit 8th grade though, all they want to buy (if anything), is a barnyard animal eraser. Even my own daughter (an 8th grader to be sure) does her book fair shopping under cover. She shops when we arrive to open the fair before the other kids are allowed in the building.
2. Flirting and hormones make everyone awkward. Book fair is prime time to flip hair enticingly, giggle breathlessly, and bat eyelashes. And that's just the boys.
3. Within 5 seconds of the class' arrival, it is possible to pick out the kid who will be loudest and most obnoxious during their stay at the fair. It is not possible to backhand this child (usually a boy) as deserved but he will accelerate your eye twitch in no time flat.
4. All middle schoolers have a maid. This is the only explanation I can come up with for their complete disregard for the mess they leave in their wakes.
5. No middle schooler ever listens. Again, this is the only way I can understand how multiple children ask me how much a certain poster costs less than a minute after I annouce to the assembled class that all posters cost $4.50.
The school staff:
1. You will learn things about staff that you should never know if you are sitting quietly and minding your own business. And what you learn will drive you closer to homeschooling than anything else in this world ever has. (For instance, there's the school's literacy coordinator who not only uses the work "like" every 5 seconds but who also heaps scorn on people "who use big words." Yes, I wanted to cry.)
2. A certain teacher must apply her make-up in the dark because she ends up having green skin. OK for Elphaba but rather disconcerting under plain, old, unflattering enough fluorescent lighting.
3. Some teachers have zero control over their classes. Others rule with an iron fist. This has no bearing on whether the kids like the teachers or not but as the book fair mom I can certainly tell you which ones I appreciate more.
4. The new librarian listens as well as the middle schoolers (see above). When asked to leave certain rooms unlocked so we can pack up and put things away at the end of the fair, she will blithely lock all doors and bug out for the weekend.
General life lessons:
1. Threats work. When I started threatening classes if they so much as poked one person with the hand pointers, they did not even try to poke each other again on the sly. (Perhaps the lesson is actually that I am scary. I prefer to think it's the threats work thing but I'm not ruling out scary.)
2. Boys don't want their purchases handed to them in a Justice bag or a Jewel box bag or any other girlie bag. They would prefer you bag their erasers and pokers in a Gamestop bag. Much cooler, thank you very much!
3. It's probably politic to leave all Total Wine bags at home regardless of how sturdy they are for holding books.
4. Eating out for lunch every day not only affects the number on the scale, it affects the amount of money you've actually spent at the bookfair. And by all rights neither number should be anywhere close to that large!
5. Sitting on your butt with nothing to do all day will make you more tired than an honest day's work.
6. Buying a book called The Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook Gross Junior Addition will add immeasurably to your children's poop vocabulary and you have no one to blame but yourself when one of them announces to you that he is henceforth going to call poops "butt biscuits." Just another proud mom moment brought to you specially by the book fair.
Although book fair week is a long one, I have to admit I was pleased to see just how many books the kids did ultimately end up buying (and I don't just mean my kids). I got some quality reading time in myself (finished three books) in between classes. And I've done my volunteer duty towards the school for the first semester, allowing me to be completely guiltless when declining other thrilling opportunities. Win win all the way around.