The big yellow angel is back and with it, Edie’s best get-her-to-school-on-time buddy.
Will has always lived across the street, they have played together just about every day since they were babies and while she might be sometimes hard pressed to admit it, Will is a cornerstone in her everyday world. Since starting kindergarten, Will has held the bus countless times so that Edie didn’t miss it.
Being a year ahead of Will in school meant that last year, when she moved up to the upper elementary school up the street, she didn’t have him yelling “BUS” when he heard it coming, didn’t have Will holding said bus while she came running out the front door, shoes in hand. She did have a neighborhood girl friend who frequently came by to join her on her walk which helped, but we were both looking forward to the day when Will will take back his rightful role of getting Edie to school on time. He just knows how to handle my not-a-morning-person girl because he’s been doing it most of his life.
As the school year grew closer, there was talk of some of the other fifth grade neighborhood boys meeting up with Will to walk to school. Walking to school with Will is one thing, but walking with a gang of fifth grade boys was another thing entirely for my sixth grade girl to wrap her head around. While Will is a boy, there are times when he’s still just Will, her buddy across the street. Individually the boys in question are what she terms ‘alright’, but collectively, they are boys and currently, boys are these completely weird, foreign creatures that might actually be from outer space. Our corner house just so happens to be on the main drag for at least half the buses that approach the school in morning and last year Edie was horrified to discover that most of the students contained on those buses had seen her being waved off to school by her mother wearing her bathrobe. “People think you don’t get dressed”. I do, I just don’t feel the need to get dressed to stand on my front porch at 7:25 in the morning. Hats off to those of you who do manage to get up and look respectable at that ungodly hour after spending an hour dragging a very cranky tween out of bed, keeping her focused on her tasks of eating breakfast, dressing in weather appropriate attire and making sure she has everything she needs to get out the door in the morning.
It seemed the only thing more embarrassing than half the school seeing your mother in her bathrobe is half the school seeing a sixth grade girl walking to school with a gang of fifth grade boys. Can you imagine the horrors?
But Edie, being Edie, realized that company is company on a walk, so if walking to school with Will meant walking to school with Will and his friends, then so be it. When the questions started coming in about where would she think the boys should meet up to walk home from school was when she sighed and said, “just tell them to meet me on the hill and I’ll be the landmark”. Really? Well, yes she explained, it will be easier that way, remembering the chaos of the first day of school last year. That was also when I added her to the email thread bouncing around the parents, because it was easier to do it that way. I know, every other parent reads their kids email – I’m the parent who has her kid read my email. Instead of being a helicopter parent, I may actually have a helicopter child.
The plan was for the three boys who live a block up to meet, head this way, arriving at our house at 7:25 to pick up Edie & Will, grabbing Gabe as they passed by his house on their way to school. Edie & Will stood waiting in front of our gate, Edie staring at her watch, Will staring down the street, looking for his pals. The boys were just a wee bit late, making Edie nervous. A girl friend of hers drove by and offered a ride, which Edie turned down because she ‘promised Will I’d walk with him today.’ Just as she was about to take off without them, the boys came meandering down the street. Edie & Will darted across to join them – Edie somehow avoiding being flattened by a passing school bus, while I ran out, yes in my pj’s and stopped traffic so that Will could safely cross. The last I saw of them, my long legged girl was speed walking to school with a pack of boys trailing on her heels. Amy reported they arrived on time at her house to pick up her son, with Edie keeping a brisk pace.
I knew Edie had offered to be the landmark on the grassy knoll by the gym after school, but I wondered if she would actually do it. My curiosity got the better of me, so I found myself walking down to school at dismissal time. Edie has a standing date to walk home with Audrey, her other lifelong friend who lives on our street and I knew Audrey would not have the patience for a group of fifth grade boys that Edie does. I saw the girls walking from afar, saw them heading down the steps, then stop and sidetrack over to the meet up. She was actually doing it! Immediately behind her was a group of boys – I saw her assess the situation and take off, with the pack hot on her heels. When they got to me, I noticed they were short a man, so I stopped them. Edie, considering her job done, took off with Audrey, Mario & Malcolm behind them, where apparently I later learned, the girls had to walk REALLY FAST to get ahead of the boys on the walk home. Geez, it was like they thought they were actually walking home with her and not near each other. Sam & Gabe hung out with me, waiting for the last man to come out. With the last man accounted for, Mission accomplished was declared. Along the way, I realized a key difference between girls & boys – boys are not so quick to leave a man behind while girls will ditch you in a heartbeat.
This morning, Will was waiting at our front gate for Edie at 7:14. Yesterday she was so ready for the first day of school, she got up at 6. Today, she’s already over it, staying in bed until 6:50 this morning. The quiet presence of Will, ensuring Edie gets to school on time cannot be understated. I missed him every morning last year and am already dreading having to get her on the junior high bus at 7:04 without him next year.
I can report the pack of boys came by at their appointed time of 7:25 to meet up with Will & Edie, but from the other end of the lane we could see Anna, one of the sixth grade girls approaching. After waving the boys off, Edie trailed behind with Anna on their way to school. I expect today she’ll not stop to make sure any of them meet up at dismissal, but the fact that she did go just a little bit out of her way yesterday to make the first day at a new school a little bit easier for a gang of fifth grade boys, well, I just think it’s one of the sweetest things ever.