I locked my bike across the road and walked over to the three story red brick building. The main entrance was marked with a poster and brightly colored shapes dangling above the door. A retro food cart was parked in front of the building. It had wood paneling and wooden letters which dangled over the side awning: Veggie Patch.
The ground floor of the building was filled with chairs and kids. I walked up the narrow steps to the second floor and into a small foyer. To the left was a raffle stand and straight ahead was a photo booth and a rack of kid’s costumes. A small group of princesses were excitedly waiting their turn when I headed upstairs.
The next floor up had a silent art auction and a pianist facing an audience of squealing children. At the back of the room boys and girls with painted faces lined up to buy cheap candy in individually wrapped packages.
Unwittingly, I had found myself Sunday afternoon in the midst of a horde of children. Wonder 102 was a festival which benefitted the Boys and Girls Brigade in Surry Hills, but unlike the ad had led me to believe, there was nothing to do for child-less adults.
I had hoped there would be some local artisans, but instead I settled for three raffle tickets on my way back down. The parents looked unnervingly my age while the kids reminded me of own elementary school fairs.
The most memorable event at my school had been part carnival and part school cleanup. My friends and I threw wet sponges at our teachers, browsed the second hand market for curios, and spent the afternoon repainting the lines on the basketball court. Some optimistic teacher left a bunch of us fifth graders with brushes and a few cans of paint. When they returned they discovered yellow pools on the concrete and basketball court lines three times more thick and wobbly than before.
Then there were also the Scholastic book fairs! Nothing got me more excited than the large wooden boxes that mysteriously showed up at school. They were wheeled into the library and opened up to reveal shelves and shelves of cheap new books. The last year I went to one, my dad specially picked out a Roald Dahl book that I hadn’t read before.
I couldn’t believe that was almost 20 years ago. That freaked me out a little bit, so I grabbed my bike and got the heck out of parenthood central. I don’t know when I will take that next step into adulthood, but when I do I hope my kids will be as entertained as I was with wet sponges and paint brushes and lots and lots of books.
About: Boys and Girls Brigade