Ethan's final day of kindergarten was last Wednesday. We received a note several days prior stating there would be a kindergarten program that day. I was hoping this wouldn’t end up being a “graduation” ceremony because I think like Mr. Incredible in that respect.

Bob Parr: It’s not a graduation. He’s moving from the 4th grade to the 5th grade.
Helen Parr: It’s a ceremony.
Bob Parr: It’s psychotic!

I think the graduation ceremony should be something really special, saved only for seniors, for the kids to look forward to all through school. Anyway, I arrived at the school at 9:15 and went into the auditorium to find seating was already very limited, but I managed to squeeze in to the middle of a row. The children came up on stage as the crowd clapped and proceeded to sing eight different little songs in English and Spanish. After that, the school principle got up to make some closing remarks. Here is where Ethan’s kindergarten program, became a cultural experience for this little white girl from the midwest.

Principle: We are gathered here today, to celebrate these glorious little children, in their kindergarten graduations
Some of the crowd:Mm Hmm.
Principle:And to commend them...
Some of the crowd: Mm Hmm.
Principle: ...for their efforts, at school this year.

The Principle’s voice seemed to increase in volume right before a pause, after which would immediately follow a chorus of satisfied Mmm Hmmm’s. But the best was yet to come.

Principle: You children, you are graduating from Kindergarten today. But are you going to settle, for just a Kindergarten education? No!
Crowd: Mmmm Hmmmmmm.
Principle: Someday you’ll graduate from sixth grade, but are you going to settle for just a sixth grade education? No!
Crowd: Mmmm Hmmm.
Principle: Someday, you’ll be graduating from High School. (Dramatic Long Pause) But are you going to settle for a High School Education?!?
Crowd: Mmm mmmmm. (some shouts of No way!)
Principle: You’re going to go on to college! And someday, you’re going to graduate from college. But are you going to settle for a college education?
Crowd: NO!
Principle: That’s right. After college, you’re going to go to graduate school! Yes, moms and dads, we have DOCTORS! and LAWYERS! and SCIENTISTS! and TEACHERS! and FORTUNE 500! BUSINESS! OWNERS! ON!THIS! STAGE!

The crowd simultaneously leapt to their feet, erupting in deafening cheers and clapping. It was absolutely the most contagious enthusiasm I have ever experienced and I found myself clapping and smiling as I watched those children on stage absolutely beaming from this wild attention and encouragement. I shook my head in wonder as I thought of the amazing cultural differences that exist in different parts of America, without which life is not nearly as interesting. I’d have to say that was the most exciting school program I’ve ever been too, and Ethan and I both loved it.
I had never been on a plane before. I was anxious. Not for fear of flying, but about what I would do to keep busy in cramped quarters for 14 hours. My eyes focused on my worn sandals. I stared at them with what I knew was an empty look, but all around me I processed the sounds. The chatter, the laughter, the squeaking wheels of luggage being pulled past.

“Dude, you like, should totally do it dude,” Sandy was saying, “Dude, I dare you!”
“I’m not gonna moon somebody in the flippin’ airport,” Emily replied.
“But dude! It would so awesome!” Sandy retorted.

Sandy always used Dude, way too much.

“Hey, you want some of my Cinnabon?” Gail said to Lane. I saw the feet of the two girls sitting across the way from me. Gail had on dirty pink beach thongs and Lane had slipped her sandals off, preferring instead to sit wiggling her big toe as she sat. I wondered if she always did this. I heard the scraping of a plastic fork and knew that Lane was cutting into the cinnamon roll. With Gails fork. Taking a bite. With Gails fork. I couldn’t believe unrelated people would share germs like that.


Not four hours into the flight I was already severely annoyed by my classmates. The constant giggling and “Dudes” were taking their toll. I was trying to enjoy my book. Couldn’t they see that? Couldn’t they be a little more respectful? As I sat there fuming over their immature behavior I began to feel very uncomfortable. Had I spilled some water in my lap? I excused myself to the lavatory to discover that at age 14 and on my first flight, I had become more than a girl.

As I walked off of that plane, my underwear stuffed with toilet paper I prayed no one would notice and I thought kinder thoughts, perhaps in the hope that Karma wouldn’t come and reveal my plight. A brief layover offered enough time to grab some liners and then it was back onto the plane.


I had underestimated the amount of liners I would need for the duration of the flight and I walked into the airport at a semi-waddle, stuffed again with toilet paper. I tried to put on my best face for the host family who held a sign with my name scrawled on it. They each greeted me with an uncomfortable amount of hugging and kissing and I returned the favor holding back tears, though not of joy. Rieke was especially excited to see me since she had stayed with my family as an exchange student the previous summer.

“Wie gehts Summer?” She asked cheerily
“Ich bin gut,” I lied.


I was mortified as Rieke held up the liner and asked me if it was mine. I had replaced it with a new one and accidentally left it on the bathroom windowsill. I blubbered that it was mine and that I forgot it and that I was new to all of it and that I was so sorry. Rieke hugged me and told me it was alright, and for the first time since leaving for the trip I relaxed. I had not anticipated her caring, understanding reaction. It meant so much to me, I decided I needed to be more kind and understanding.


I wiped the sweat from my forehead and trudged slowly up the hill.
“Summer, wait up!” Penny called.
I slowed my pace so Penny could catch up and she fell into step with me.
“Are you sure you know how to get back to Katarina’s house?” I questioned.
“Pretty sure,” Penny said.
 I raised my eyebrow at her.
“I sure could use a drink. Why didn’t I think to bring water?” I wondered out loud.
We turned a corner and as if in answer to my thirst, we suddenly saw it . A big black vending machine situated next to a lone bench, in what seemed the most isolated and strangest of places. We walked up to it eagerly, hoping for a bottle of cool normal water.
“Dang, only Mineral Wasser of course!” I said.
“Oh look,” Penny said excitedly, “Coke!”
We both stared with parched lips at the button with the bright red emblem of familiarity and started rummaging through our pockets.
“I only have a couple D-Marks,” I said sadly.
“Well, I have enough for one bottle,” Penny replied.
Penny inserted the marks and pulled the can out. She popped the metal fastener off and inhaled the sweet mist. Then she put her lips to the rim, tilted her head back and took a good long guzzle. She handed the can over to me and I didn’t hesitate to finish it off.


I reclined my chair and closed my eyes as I absorbed the music. Someone lifted the ear phone off of my left ear and asked, “Hey Summer, are you ever gonna give my walkman back?”
I chuckled and took off the headphones.
“Thanks Emily. I really like the Goo Goo Dolls.”
“I never figured you as the type that would,” she replied.
“Neither did I,” I said.


My mom hugged me tightly as soon as she could reach me. My bright blue sunglasses were perched lightly atop my sun drenched hair.
“I can’t wait to hear about and see pictures of all the places you went!” she said excitedly.
“We’ll have to get the film developed first,” I said, ” Oh, mom, wait.”
I jogged toward Sandy and her family.
“Dude, you almost forgot this,” I said, handing her a souvenir shot glass she had let me look at while on the plane.
I jogged back over to my mom and we walked arm in arm toward the parking garage.
“You know,” she commented, “I think you’ve changed a bit over this last month.”
“I have,” I replied smiling.
Every second I lay curled up shaking felt like an eternity and yet I was surprised at how quickly it seemed my husband made it home. I heard urgent pounding steps in the stairwell outside our apartment door and knew he was coming. I would get to see him one more time.

I heard the lock jiggling. I heard the door slam. I felt his hand on my face as he knelt on the floor beside me. I can’t remember if I told him I loved him but I know I willed him to feel it. I knew there was only one thing that might alleviate my suffering so I asked him for a priesthood blessing.

He was calm as he laid his hands upon my head and uttered a few brief inspired words of healing. Immediately my constant shaking calmed to an occasional quiver. I felt such gratitude to God for this immediate act of relief.

My husband helped me back to my bed where I laid down to try to get some rest. But now that the shaking had dissipated I noticed other things were happening. My heart would race and slow and race and slow. Each time it began to race my body would fill with terrifying warmth. I suppose the best way to explain that is to say it is the kind of warmth you feel when your conscience tells you you’ve done something very wrong. Amplify that ten fold and it kept throwing me into a panic. My mind was so confused at that time, mixing these sensations with fear that I had done something terribly wrong. I call it a hellfire feeling, as though you’re about to be consumed by the agony of guilt.

I also suddenly realized how very sensitive to noise I was. As I lay there, the minutes ticking slowly away, I would hear an occasional yell from one of the kids or a loud bang and my body would immediately start to quiver, my heart rate sky rocketing, filling me again with terrifying warmth. You can imagine that prayer was always upon my lips as I struggled to calm these reactions. I still had no idea what was going on, I only hoped that this physical and mental presence of mind would wear off quickly. Unfortunately that was not to be the case.

To be continued…
Caleb: Mom, iss so hot ow here!

Me: I know. It is hot out here isn’t it.

Caleb: I fink I gonna mewht (melt).