The night before the first day of school, there was a festive BBQ in the front yard of Smartmom’s apartment building.
A potluck bonanza, the impromptu menu included pesto pasta salad, chipotle turkey burgers, shish kebob, roasted veggies and a seemingly endless supply of cold white wine.
Best of all, the adults got to commiserate about the end of summer.
“I’m just not ready for this,” one neighbor told Smartmom. “It feels very sudden this year.”
“I am so dreading tomorrow,” another neighbor said. “This summer went by in a flash.”
Clearly, it was the parents who were having a hard time letting go of the carefree days of summer. The kids seemed to be facing the transition with energy and aplomb. A girl who lives in the building next door was hula hoping while finishing “A Tale of Two Cities,” the required summer reading at MS 51.
The Oh So Feisty One wore her first-day-of-school outfit to the barbecue: a test-run of the stylish blue dress, black leggings, and new slip-on black sneakers. Needless to say, she got a lot of compliments.
Upstairs, her blue and purple messenger-style bag was already packed and ready for its debut the next day.
Teen Spirit was clearly in denial about his first day. When Smartmom saw him walk past her with a large group of friends, she reminded him that he needed to get a good night’s sleep — for a change — so that he could leave the house by 6:45 am.
“Don’t worry, mom,” he told her.
But worry she did. It’s not like he’s been awake before 1 pm in months. Smartmom was stressing because she knows what it takes to get her kids to school.
Tabloid Mom could tell that Smartmom was agitated. She told her to have another glass of Chardonnay. But the wine only made Smartmom more morose. She thought of that line from “Charlotte’s Web”: “The crickets sang in the grasses. They sang the song of summer’s ending, a sad monotonous song. ‘Summer is over and gone,’ they sang. ‘Over and gone, over and gone. Summer is dying, dying.’”
Oy. The sound of those crickets. It’s been so loud on Third Street that sometimes Smartmom wonders if they’re in her living room.
Thankfully, Tabloid Mom interrupted the morbid daydream.
“What middle school’s are you looking at?” she asked, posing a question that Smartmom knows she’ll be hearing at least 43 times a day for the next few months.
Yes, this is OSFO’s last year at PS 321 and soon it will be time to fill out those dreaded middle school applications.
Smartmom forced herself to remember the names of the local middle schools she’d blocked out of her mind all summer.
It’s not like she thought about middle school options while she was working on her novel in her Edward Hopperesque room with an ocean view on Block Island.
She certainly did not read “New York’s Best Middle Schools,” by Clara Hemphill, while sitting on the beach in Amagansett.
And don’t think she was comparing middle school test scores while sipping latte and reading beat poetry in Mario’s Cigar Store Café in San Francisco.
But Tabloid Mom’s question brought it all back. All of it…
The next morning at 6 am, Smartmom wanted to ignore the annoying beep of her alarm clock. But she didn’t.
She wanted to stay under the covers and continue dreaming. But she didn’t.
Instead, she dragged herself into Teen Spirit’s room and shook the sleeping giant awake. She knocked on Mrs. Kravitz’s door to borrow back the butter she’d lent her a few days before so that Teen Spirit’s bagel could be buttered…
By 7 am, Teen Spirit was out the door, and OSFO was in her back-to-school outfit and ready to go.
Later, they walked slowly up Third Street to Seventh Avenue as Smartmom thought about all the back-to-school errands that lay ahead (supplies from Save on Fifth, groceries from the Co-op, a new bag for Teen Spirit from Brooklyn Industries). But then something miraculous happened:
Smartmom saw the parade of parents on Seventh Avenue. Friends. Acquaintances. Familiar faces. It was good to see them all.
There’s Angela, the friendly crossing guard on Second Street, who wished them a good new year at school.
When they entered the PS 321 backyard, Smartmom noticed that one of OSFO’s teacher’s from last year is pregnant (and has a little bump to prove it). Cute.
While OSFO lined up with her classmates, Smartmom took in the scene. Friends ran up to OSFO and gave her a hug. A friend’s redheaded daughter got so unbelievably tall. Brainy Lawyer and her family looked so suntanned and healthy. Tall and Sultry was jet-lagged after month in Italy.
“Hey, moms, pose for a picture,” said Groovy Architect Mom. “It’s our last first day of school at PS 321.”
Smartmom joined this interesting gaggle of mom-friends for an enthusiastic photograph. They all smiled. Smartmom felt a twinge of nostalgia. She’d been through a lot with these women.
After the flash, the moms dispersed. They were off to work, off to do errands. One mom said she was “off to clean the stacks of mail on my desk.”
Buoyed by the warmth of her mom-friends and the scene in the backyard, Smartmom was ready to face her first day of school, the school year, and everything else that comes her way.
Louise Crawford also writes the Web site, “Only the blog knows Brooklyn.”
©2007 Community News Group
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