For the past two weeks, The Dormouse's preschool has been talking up this program: The Trike-A-Thon for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. They got the kids super excited about it and fully indoctrinated.

"Miss Sandy says, I'm doing a good thing for the children at St. Jules' Hospital for Resurge."

OK - maybe not completely indoctrinated, but they're four.

I dutifully took the pledge sheet around at work and got a few people to promise to pay out $1.00, $.50, $.25 for each lap she rode, thereby becoming one of those coworkers you can't stand who expects you to buy wrapping paper, pizza, soap, pott
ed cheese, etc., because their kid has to sell it and they are neither willing to let their kid go around the neighborhood door to door by him- or herself nor are they willing to spend time going around the neighborhood door to door with their kid. And really, can you blame them?

The Trike-a-thon was scheduled for two weeks ago. But then rain and cold weather caused them to postpone it. The Dormouse could not have been more disappointed.

The next da
y, more rain. Postponed again.

The next day was not a school day for The Dormouse, but she made me promise to bring her to school for the riding event because she Could. Not. Bear. To. Miss. It. Even though it was raining and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that it would be canceled again, I promised her I'd drive over there with her and ask because I couldn't stand to listen to her wonder a thousand times over if maybe, just maybe they'd decided to hold it in the rain and she would not have been included and that would have been consummate to nuclear holocaust in the eyes of a four year old. I bundled both girls up and dutifully drove over. Surprise, surprise, it was canceled again.

The ne
xt day was a beautiful, sunny day. I assured her in the morning that surely they would have the event that day. Look outside, after all. When I picked her up that evening, she was as dejected as a Jamaican Bobsledder. Apparently, the person who organized the event was not scheduled to be in the school that day, so they postponed yet again.

The next day, more rain. Does anyone have to ask?

Finally, at long last, on Friday, they actually held the long awaited Trike-a-thon. I happened to have a few minutes in the middle of the day, so I drove over to check it out. The entire parking lot was roped off and cones were set up to create the course. It was intended for the children to do laps around all the cones, beginning at the starting point and having some teacher stand at the end and count each child's laps as they circled all the cones multiple times in formation as perfect as a division of Hitler-Jugend.

At least, that was the intent.

They required helmets, so we had to purchase a set of helmet, knee and elbow pads (which The Dormouse now refers to as her "gear") and more preparation than a District of Columbia drivers' test. The Dormouse spent a week learning the rules and etiquette of tricycle riding. She even brought home a coloring book as homework which contained all the rules to review: We don't ride in the street, we don't ride without an adult, etc. . From the parking lot, I watched them emerge from the building; so excited, the group seemed to be vibrating. They spent about twenty minutes lining up all the kids just outside the door. Each kid was appropriately bundled up and donned his or her "gear". Finally, after what seemed like a month of Sundays, they were ready to ride.

Suddenly, someone gave the okay and they scattered. It was like watching a pee wee soccer league - just a melee of kids running in a pack from one end of the field to the other, only on tiny tricycles and bicycles. There were no laps counted. Indeed, there were no laps to count, because there was no rhyme or reason to where the kids rode. At one point, I readied my camera to take a picture and a riderless bike came coasting through the frame. The Keystone cops would have been in awe by the capacity for kids to fall over on their bikes from a simple stopped position. It was a riot.

The Dormouse did the equivalent of 25 laps - or at least that's our conservative estimate and what we are telling those who pledged - because using a strict definition of the word "lap" would have netted zero, count them, zero laps for the whole event. She also collected 37 acorns from underneath the hedges around the parking lot and along the way (too bad people didn't all pledge based on THAT!). Afterward, I asked to have the pledge sheet back so I could total up and collect the money.

"Oh you can just give me the check," the teacher said.

"But I don't remember the amount everyone pledged. I need to calculate how much everyone owes for the 'laps' she did."

She stared at me blank-faced and then with sudden realization, "Oh, you mean you got people to pledge per lap?"

"Um, yeah, isn't that what the instructions said to do?"

"I guess so. Most parents didn't get pledges. They just wrote a check for $35 - the minimum they had to raise to get a t-shirt."

I collected over $100. What a patsy I am. We are anxiously awaiting that $100 t-shirt

We also learned that she's more than outgrown her tricycle. Anyone got a cheap bicycle with training wheels for next year? I've got my $35 ready.