Friday 3 p.m.:
At a local Jack in the Box a bunch of giggling high school seniors and two parents have a meeting.
My daughter (code name: Movie Buff) and about 10 of her classmates are going to pull off "Operation Cobra" on Sunday night. The plan: we meet at Applebees at 9:15 that night, hop in a couple vans and drive the 4 blocks south to the school. Breaking into 3 groups, they are going to jump the fences of the school grounds and draw chalk outlines of bodies and put up police tape around them. (Actually, it will be construction "caution" tape, but the point is there.) Outlines of bodies doing "YMCA" are to appear by the snack bar and other body positions will be elsewhere/everywhere. They are also planning to put banners up on the tops of some of the buildings. Apparently they have already scouted out where to access the roof AND they know the locations of the cameras. My husband (code name: Pumpkin) and I (code name: Honey Bunny) are assigned as lookouts. We will be patrolling the street out front and signaling when the security patrol drives up. I admit that I'm nervous for the kids but no matter how this turns out, they will have a fond memory of their senior year. I'm bringing bail money with me.
Sunday 9:15 p.m.:
We all meet at Applebees as planned. The kids are so cute - all dressed in black with dark baseball caps. Some even have camouflage paint on their faces. (I keep thinking that it's a good thing they are good drivers because if a cop pulls them over....) One kid pulls up still wearing his work clothes and says, “Don’t look!” as his strips off his pants and pulls on dark jeans right in the parking lot. Supplies are handed out. Maps of campus are handed around and discussed. 3 teams are coached on where they will "breach the perimeter" and what their assignments will be. One nervous boy asks a “what if” only to be told by a girl to “commando it.” (I hope they put this much effort into their homework!) Then, after getting team leader's cell phone numbers I give instructions that they be set on vibrate only and not to answer them as it would be the signal that the security patrol was coming. “If you get caught,” I tell them loudly, “tell them this was MY idea and this was my Mother’s Day present I asked for." A short pause. "But don’t get caught.” They laugh and Pumpkin & I take off on foot to patrol the front of the school.
We make it to the school just in time for a van to swoop to a stop by the curb and 4 kids hop out of another parent's car and dash to the north parking lot fence and climb over it. We walk by quickly so no attention is drawn to the giggling group. We walk down to the front of the school. The main gate is standing wide open! All is dark and silent. We continue down the sidewalk to the far end of the school. The construction fence is skewed and a wide gap between the panels is ripe for entry. Pumpkin turns to me and with a smile says, "I think the school knows that this bunch is the good kids."
Nevertheless, we patrol. Sunday night. 10 p.m. Quiet. Not much traffic. The kids are silently pursuing their goal. Half-hour in my phone buzzes. "R2" whispers nervously, "Where are you? Is it okay?" I assure her it is as her boyfriend "D2" cruises by soon followed by the other parent in the van.
At one point a white car that my hubby recognizes from several drive-bys earlier, pulls into the front driveway of the school with its lights off. Two young men trot by us to meet the car. Pumpkin dashes up to see what they are doing. They see him and pull out fast and drive away. “I think I foiled the competition,” he grins.
Another nervous call from R2 and it settles down again. After about 15 minutes, she buzzes me again. “Call ‘Polish Sausage’ and tell him to get his group to meet us at the auditorium!” She says they are almost done. Of course, Polish Sausage follows his orders and doesn’t answer his phone. I leave a message.
Next 10 minutes has me buzzing just as hard as the phone. Where are they? One more call from R2, “Is it clear? We’re coming out the front!” D2 swoops his SUV into the driveway and 6 or 8 kids pile in. I recognize “Movie Buff” as one of them. They take off back to Applebees. Where are the rest?
After a whole bunch of phone calls and confusion, we find out that 5 of the kids are staying to hang banners off the top of the auditorium. Security never showed so Pumpkin and I head back up to meet the first group. We all wait for them at Applebees. The other parent keeps driving around waiting for the last commandos. Half-hour later, they breeze in to a round of applause.
Mission accomplished! Hugs, huddles, cheers of COBRA!, stories, and pictures!
Monday 6:15 a.m:
The text message chime greets my sleepy daughter. A fellow commando arrived early on campus to discover the school has already cleaned up everything they did last night with the exception of a couple of signs.
Well at least they had the fun of planning, preparing, and executing a wonderfully safe and easily cleanable prank. 2007’s seniors spray-painted the campus – criminal damage. These kids were considerate in their mischief. I wish the school let them enjoy it for a brief time before they hosed it all away.