I remember the encounter vividly. It’s hard to forget when your normally pasty white face turns 10 shades of red in front of (what felt like) hundreds of people. There I was, standing in line at Kindergarten Registration at our neighborhood school. I scanned the room for another mom I could talk to, someone who could put me at ease as I signed up my little man for his debut in formal education. The mom behind me must have sensed my torment as she kindly struck up a conversation with this school newbie. During our surface level conversation, I quickly learned she was eagerly there to register her daughter, the last of 4 kids to attend this school, which she raved about. She told me how much she loved the principal. How all the teachers were so nice. She mentioned the cafeteria food was okay, but almost everyone packed a lunch anyway. She gave me a few more helpful tips before an awkward silence filled the air.
And then she asked me the dreaded question. “So, what are you doing for MEA?”
“I’m sorry, what did you say?” I replied.
She repeated, “What are you doing for MEA?”
I was so confused. I thought she said “What are you doing for Emily?” so I asked, “Who is Emily?”
She burst out laughing, I wanted to hide.
And then she schooled me on what it’s all about.
You see, I’m from Iowa (can I get a woot woot) and we didn’t have MEA growing up. After moving here as an adult, I vaguely remember my teacher friends talking about this education convention once a year, but none of them ever went. Now with 2 kids happily immersed in grade school, I am thrilled to report that not only do I know what MEA is, but I also better understand the sacredness of these 2 days off school.
I will be honest, my boys beg to go to the Dells every year, because supposedly all their friends go, however, we have yet to make the pilgrimage to the Waterpark Capital of the United States. And while I’m not one to feel like I need to keep up with the Joneses, I do think MEA is the perfect opportunity to plan something special and spend some extra time with my kids, making memories.
If you want to make memories with your family too, here are a few ideas to get you started:
1. See the fall colors at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
2. Check out the Observation Deck at the Foshay Tower
3. Go for a hike around Minnehaha Falls
4. Take a road trip to Duluth and the North Shore
5. Experience the International flair at the Midtown Global Market
6. Visit the Twin Cities Premium Outlets in Eagan
7. Host a neighborhood bonfire with s’mores or hot cocoa
9. Volunteer at a food shelf with your kids
10. Book a room at the Venice-themed Holiday Inn in Maple Grove and pretend you’re in Italy
11. Visit the Science Museum
12. Visit the MN Zoo for Hall-Zoo-Ween
13. Explore the mysteries of the electrical world at the Bakken Museum
14. Carve pumpkins and roast the pumpkin seeds
15. Take adventure to a whole new level (and conquer your fear of heights) on a Kerfoot Canopy Tour
Now please do me a favor…if you know a non-native Minnesotan with a preschooler, save her the embarrassment and tell her what MEA is all about. She will thank you one day.