Yesterday, at the meet-n-greet coffee klatch at the kids’ school, we all rustled around grabbing coffee and donut holes (the younger siblings were all, “DONUT HOLES!” I think I actually taught one little boy a new word. His mom glared at me).
My ex still had my camera, so I was saving a seat for him and for my friend so we could all not see the principal speak together. (She’s a little on the short side, and everyone else was standing. There was no chance of seeing her so we put up our feet.)
The place was crammed with dads seeing their kids off on the first day, obviously on their way to work and wondering how much longer they could go un-missed at the office. At one long lunch table, a gentleman in a suit made a friendly gesture toward the bench opposite, and extended his hand. He was new this year.
“Hi, I’m P.”
“Hi P. Actually, I believe we know each other. Remember, we played softball fifteen years ago? When your girlfriend worked with my boyfriend? Mindy Roberts. You know, Gil?”
“And then we met again five years ago at Alex’s birthday party, and you were holding a newborn, your first.”
“Wow. Good memory.”
Others had sat down in the meantime, including my friend now clutching my camera, Dylan’s DS, and two chargers. Yes, two. So one wouldn’t feel jealous staying at home. My ex had had to leave and couldn’t find me, so he asked her to hold everything until she found me. I rolled my eyes at the tangle of cords and proceeded to stuff everything into my bag.
“What’s that?” Asked P.
I looked down at the DS. “You mean this?” He nodded. I looked at another mom stifling a grin. “Oh, my God that is so cute.” I savored the moment. “This, my friend, is a Nintendo DS Lite. You WILL have one. It WILL rock your sons’ worlds, and you WILL at some point, without even noticing, arrange some part of your life around it. You will create a whole new set of rules specific to it. You will have more than one. It seems a trifle, but you will learn to track it like you do your wallet. Your sons will astound you with ferocious leaps in manual dexterity and sudden ability to retain all kinds of detail about characters, levels, strategies, and files. Verily, my six-year-old knows what it means to download from another DS. Enjoy these next couple of years without them, P, because things will never be the same after a DS comes into your life.” The other moms around the table nodded sagely.
“My husband is always playing it.”
“We have three in a family of four.”
“It seemed hideously expensive until we realized that road trips and waits at the doctor’s were unbearable without them.”
“I like doing the NY Times Crossword puzzles.” I felt like adding, I just read it for the articles.
I beamed at P, still thinking it was so cute that he was still in Toddler Land where such knowledge didn’t exist. What else was coming at him? Uh oh, his son has Dylan’s Kindergarten teacher. I said, my daughter was fine whenever she subbed, liked her a lot, but Miss Thang hated my son, said he was the worst behaved child she’s encountered in seventeen years of teaching. Oh, really? I wanted to say. Wow, you’re much older than I thought. “But then Dylan is a middle child, and this is your eldest, right?”
“Yes…” He started to look nervous.
“The calmer one? More responsible? Listens well?”
He relaxed. “Definitely.”
“Then he’ll be fine. It’ll take the edge off his being a boy. I think she likes pretty little girls who don’t break into song and do pratfalls at circle time.” He stared. “It got better.” Pause. “His teachers have all loved him since first grade.” I could tell we were overloading him. I was overloading him. But then again I remembered that he and his girlfriend were crack softball players and kicked our asses there and back again about five hundred times.
It was time to collect our Styrofoam cups, mingle with the moms we hadn’t seen all summer, and stand in line to meet the fourth principal in five years. Don’t even ask.
I said, “Here’s my card if you ever have questions. You know, just until you figure out how to work the system.” He gave me one of his as well, and we parted just in time for me to run over to a group of moms to flash my ring, only to find out that they already knew, because, you know, I have a BLOG and have been talking about it for a week.
“You know, that just takes all the fun out of exciting news.”
“My husband doesn’t know. You can tell him.” I nudged him and mumbled, “I got engaged last week.” “Ah, congratulations!” He didn’t squeal like a girlfriend would have, and didn’t even glance at my finger. But then I saw someone who I knew didn’t follow this blog and ran over, all breathless, placed my hand on my collarbone and gasped, “Guess what?”
“Good Lord, woman, is that all you have? Like I don’t have enough babies? And am divorced and unemployed?”
I waggled my fingers. “SQUEEEAAAALLL!” That was more like it. “Ooh, I like him. It’s about time! When’s the date?”
“We’re letting it sink in with the kids. Daphne worried about where he would sleep, because we didn’t have enough beds. So there’s a learning curve there. Besides, I want to file as Head of Household this year.”
“And your ex?”
“He’s the most excited, aside from us, that is. He’s like a demented girlfriend with the congratulations and questions and all around thrill. He had my parents over to celebrate with his parents who were visiting from out of state. He even invited the neighbors.”
And then I was off to introduce myself to the new principal. “Hi, I know you won’t remember my name, but I just wanted to make contact. I’m Mindy Roberts, and I have three children here. You’ll probably see them in the office from time to time. Just a heads-up. Roberts.”
“Ahhh, thanks. I’ll keep an eye out.”
“Don’t worry, only two are boys.”
And then I scrambled for cash to buy hot lunches from the office because I just knew that no one had thought to pack food. I was right. They came home starving and jonesing for their DS’s, so the boys holed up in their room to try to defeat the game while Daphne and I curled up and slept off her first long, hard day as a first grader.