I realized tonight that we’ve been going to the Fair for a number of years now.

me and my son in 2003

It’s interesting for me to reread what I wrote about the Fair in years past: I tend to see it as a concentrated dose of Peninsula culture, or an event that I can subject to an amateur thick description– a ritual that shines a light on a whole world. And of course, there’s face paint.

my son in 2005

I’ve long appreciated the amount of time parents put into organizing and running it, but what strikes me this year is the degree to which the kids are also involved in putting on the Fair. My kids have always enjoyed going to the fair, but this year they were enthusiastic about going the day before to help set up, and of course going back the next morning. It seemed unthinkable to them that we wouldn’t do setup– which of course is just what made our going inevitable.

from 2006 (hmm, does this extra weight make me look fat?)

The school spends a lot of time talking about its distinctive culture, and arguing about how much we can (or should try to) describe it; however, what’s missing from these discussions is a recognition of the basic fact that while the parents (and adults more generally) are indispensable to the running of the school, we may not actually be central to its culture. It’s the kids who really own it. That’s a slightly radical idea, especially for a bunch of intelligent of often pretty egocentric grownups who are used to creating and controlling things (welcome to Silicon Valley, where pride is our favorite of the Seven Deadly Sins). Certainly if you take an active, performative view of culture, we’re but the chorus; and factor in the tacit knowledge that circulates among and is shared by the kids but never makes it to the grownups, and parents become rather peripheral.