Benny and his friend Griffin at Ocean Beach in San Francisco.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Say 'Cheese'

Picture Day.

Those two seemingly innocent words strike fear in the most courageous of parents. I’d been in deep denial about Picture Day for about three weeks. Frankly, I was hostile about the whole thing – why, in the name of God, would a school take the always-crazed month of September (and let’s not mention the still-unpacked moving boxes and a giant, two-week project) and toss in a Picture Day? (1)

But last night I could hide no longer. Ron needed to work late, so it was just me and Benny. The poor kid needed a bath, and I had to comb his wet hair this time instead of letting it dry all stuck-up and freaky. He actually needed a haircut, too, but it was too late for that. He needed new shoes as well, I suddenly realized, since one of his blue race-car shoes had a gaping tear in the front.

I dug through a few boxes and found his black dress shoes, which required his dress slacks and a buttoned-down shirt. Benny stood quietly, watching the movie “Charlotte’s Web” while I draped various clothing combinations on him, including two ties. (I had to give up the tie idea, since they made his shirt collars stick up.)

This morning we turned up at the school, wild-eyed and nearly 30 minutes late. The scene was total anarchy. Bright lights, harried parents, crying kids. Benny was all psyched, though, and kept trying to get into other kids’ pictures. When his turn came, he lit right up. He smiled and posed and giggled; he was practically saying, “where do I hit my mark?” The whole school was watching him, then turned to me. I shrugged sheepishly.

I’m so relieved it’s over. I seem to be saying that sentence a lot lately, but relief is my dominant emotion today. I’m so relieved to b
e finished with that crazy huge project, and yesterday’s tense editors’ meeting, and now Picture Day. Relief as an emotion gets little attention, but it’s so important. So often we rush from stressful thing to stressful thing that we never get a chance to look back and feel good about our accomplishments. Even when said accomplishment is as small as combing your kid’s hair.


(1) There was a Parent's Night event on Wednesday as well, but Ron went to that, thank heavens.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Hello September

You may recall my last posts, where I waxed poetic about our woes in August and looked forward to a calmer, sunnier September.

Hmmm ... well ... it didn't quite turn out that way.

The weather cooperated, I must say: lovely sunny days with just a little more nippiness at night. I was returning to the newsroom full-time six weeks early. Everything was bubbling cheerily until a 32-story freelance project came along and smashed my schedule flat. Ron's been taking Benny to and from school every day so I can show up to the office bleary-eyed at 7:30-8:00 a.m.

Even that wasn't enough, so I'm here at the office on a Sunday morning, churning out 500-word profiles at an alarming rate. They're all due tomorrow, which of course means I'll finish them Tuesday. I also have to rewrite a 1,400-word article on a certain program that teaches economics to kids because it simply wasn't fawning enough for the publication's sponsors. This is the LAST time I write an advertorial.

Benny is settling nicely into his preschool routine, I'm told. I wouldn't know, since the Dinosaur School hasn't seen me in over a week. Ron had to quit wearing his wedding ring for a while due to an irritated spot in his finger, so the teachers probably think we divorced. But I remain a behind-the-scene presence, setting out Benny's clothes, making his lunch, writing the tuition check and finally, baking 20 pumpkin muffins with mini-chocolate chips for Afternoon Snack.

But this should all change tomorrow, when I begin to emerge from my profile-writing haze and rejoin my life. My next big project is getting Ron and myself California driver's license, which will necessitate a trip to the dreaded DMV. It's a frightening place, last time I went in 2001 I wrote a column about it. Let's hope things go better this time.