By Tim Sullivan
Like many Catholic elementary schools, mine bore a slightly tragic name, Our Lady of Sorrows. Maybe Our Lady of Perpetual Guilt was already taken within the archdiocese, but it was actually a gem of a place to spend 1st through 8th grades. Each morning, the streets of Gedney Farms saw a congregation of plaid and blue in their best Buster Browns for the walk to OLS. Judging by the scientific metrics of Facebook, it must have been a pretty special school because my siblings and I keep up with so many old friends and teachers.
One of many parenting coups our mother pulled off was that she had the older kids prepare lunches for the younger kids. If I asked Elliott to make Margo’s lunch, he’d look at me as if I asked him to drive her to the zoo and say, “you think I know how to make a lunch?” Anyway, the arrangement somehow worked back in the day. Except that one time my practical joker brother Steve slid two pieces of white bread into a Ziploc bag instead of making actual sandwiches.
Sr. Cecile hurried me into the cafeteria kitchen and scooped a generous blob of grape jelly onto the naked bread. I was grateful, of course, but any kid can tell you a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is perfection but just jelly on white bread is a disaster. I nibbled cautiously around the edges but the middle section proved too precarious. Wearing half a grape jelly sandwich is a surefire way to ruin a 1st grader’s afternoon. Well played, Steve, well played.
My kids are essentially two years apart, but their respective birthdays leave them three grades apart. So this is the only year we have them at the same school (K-3) and we’re all going to relish it, dammit. The morning march down Mead Road with throngs of Oakhurst Owls seems very much like when I was a kid, minus the clip-on ties. If you see someone with an extra bounce in their step sporting a spiky pink backpack, that would be me. Plus, Kristen and I are just giddy with the logistics of dropping off and picking up at one location (This is the sort of thing that makes parents giddy).
So far so good. Elliott’s new teacher is Ms. Beyer, and friends who have older kids get misty-eyed relaying just how awesome she is. She’ll need to be because Mrs. Harber set the bar awfully high in 2nd grade. At orientation night, Ms. Beyer greeted Elliott with, “Are you a hugger or a high-fiver?” He claimed to be a high-fiver (he’s totally a hugger), but his smile spoke volumes. On the first day he had homework – 10 things to know about me. I suggested he start off with, “I’m actually a hugger,” but instead Line 1 was “I love sports.” I doubt any other third grade boy came up with that one!
Margo has Ms. Phillips for Kindergarten and we already know she is THE BOMB because Elliott had her, too. It’s the Golden Year, I tell ya!
On the first night I asked Margo who her Spanish teacher was. “Senora Something…Spanishy…”– total brush off. She was too anxious to find out whether or not she had homework (hoping). This was so she could roundly complain about all of the homework she had. I opened her folder and the assignment was to memorize her cafeteria code, which she tackled with gusto but still she clamored for more. All I could find was a Code of Conduct form to be signed by both parent and student.
“How do you spell Sullivan again?” she sighed with a phony harrumph.
I played along: “S-U-L-L-I-V-A-N. And I hate to tell ya – but you also need to sign down here.”
“Ugh! ALL this homework? On the first night?”