Norman Knight: Some routines are better than others

We are driving to the north side of Indy to attend a VIP Celebration at Adelaide’s school.

Becky and I were asked to be her VIPs. We have yearly photos with her from the last five years, and we will have another one made today. At one time this event was called “Grandparents Day,” and we were “Grandparents.” But “VIP” seems more inclusive, and we are just fine being considered Very Important Persons by our granddaughter.

Before we left, we went through the ritual check to see if we had everything we needed before we walked out the door. “Do you have your phone? The keys? Money and charge cards? Mask?” and so on. Becky, who was an elementary teacher for part of her career and is familiar with the classic children’s song that teaches body parts: “Head, Shoulders Knees and Toes,” was happy to share with me a more updated version for adults: “Wallet, Glasses, Keys and Phone.” We agreed this would be a useful mnemonic for us to memorize. I’ll have to ask Adelaide if she remembers learning the original song.

It is never easy to judge how long the drive around I-465 will take what with the long-term major road construction. From where we live it takes at least an hour and sometimes much longer. If it is possible, we try to time it so we are not driving during rush hour when the highway can become a parking lot. Today we left just after noon so traffic wasn’t horrible. Still, it is a challenge to negotiate the jam of trucks and clusters of vehicles that constitutes a typical drive on the beltway. Someday the work will be finished, they say, and it will be worth the time and effort. It’s what we call progress, I guess.

We arrive at Allisonville Elementary, park, don our masks and go inside. A 5th grade “Ambassador” directs us to a large room and soon we are connected with Adelaide. As an experienced 4th grade Ambassador herself, she knows what to do and leads us from station to station. We make bookmarks. She interviews us about our elementary school experiences carefully writing down our responses. We decorate a picture frame which will hold the photo someone snaps of the three of us.

One interesting station is called “New and Old.” We are handed a stapled packet of papers with photos of various objects, people and characters. We VIPs are to identify the photos in the “New” section, and then Adelaide is to do the same with the “Old” pages. I am still not clear what one object is even after she tries to explain it to me. (It is somehow related to an app or digital device of some sort — I think.) We manage to correctly identify “Baby Yoda” and the toys “Slime” and “Pop It,” but only because we have seen her play with them. When Adelaide takes her turn with the “Old” section, she must identify “ancient” items such as floppy discs, saddle shoes and a milkman. I especially enjoy her puzzlement over a photo of Elvis twisting in a dance pose from the movie Jailhouse Rock. “Hmm,” she ponders. “Is it Michael Jackson?”

To coordinate the different traffic patterns and vehicle situations that is an elementary school’s reality, we were asked to leave by a certain time. That time soon comes, and we hug our goodbyes to our 4th Grade Ambassador. As we walk to our car Becky and I each pat ourselves down: Wallet, glasses, keys and phone? Check.