Getting to be that time of year. Cooler evenings-and mornings. Guys wearing blaze orange over camo are not out of place. New empty nesters are buying up boxes and boxes of Kleenex. And out of summer hibernation here come the yellow school buses. If back to school hasn’t hit your neighborhood, it will shortly and many a parent will dance the happy dance of “school’s back in session.”
I talked to a man the other day that was getting ready to go to his 55th year class reunion. Yes 55 years. We agreed that one never truly gets all the way out of high school. I wonder if I will make it to my 55th reunion. I have a long, long way to go. Okay, maybe just a long way to go.
I don’t know as many kids here as I probably should, but that is because I don’t travel in the school circle in our area. I hear stuff about the school. I know people on the school board. I know where the schools are. I pay my taxes and part of those go towards the running of the schools. But that’s about the extent of me and our local schools. That isn’t what peaked my interest recently. I’m more interested in what the tykes do after school.
Now and then a conversation will take you back. The smell of burnt coffee takes you to a campfire where the coffee boiled over and you then find yourself remembering that whole trip. The sight of someone getting a haircut puts you in that chair the day you got that WAY TOO CURLY perm and you cried all the way to the store to get an off the shelf perm to straighten those oh so lovely locks you over paid for—and even left a nice tip. I have to get over that! Well this past week I was reminded of the “after school house” on our block when I was a kid.
Seems like every neighborhood has that one home that most of the kids hang out at after school. The mom, or in today’s world maybe the dad is there when the kids that live there, and all their friends hit the door after school. Snacks are there. The yard is inviting. The home is inviting. There was a home like that on the block where I lived when I was a kid. A conversation I had with a block mom of today reminded me of the block mom we had. Mrs.
Playford. Amazing that her name had play in it huh? She was always ready for a house full of kids.
Oh there were other homes to go to after school. There was the family where the mother made us take off our shoes before we came in. Boo. We had to wash our hands. Boo again. The snacks were dry fruit. We didn’t go there much.
There was the girl whose father worked at an ice cream distributor place. They always had ice cream sandwiches in their freezer. Hurray! But the kids were real mean so a lot of us didn’t go there much either.
When I was a kid my house occasionally got the herd of after-schoolers. The grass in our yard sometimes took a real beating from bikes and sliding down a small hill on cardboard from the box when a family in the neighborhood got a new stove or refrigerator. Doing all those fun things kids do.
The whole “after-school-home” came up when I was talking to a young mom the other day. Turns out her home was an afterschool home for her kids and their friends. Kids don’t care that there are dishes in the sink. Kids are not impressed if your carpet is vacuumed. Kids just want popsicles and someone to notice them. Just to be there, to be available.
This block mom of today was cute. She said the kids run up to her as she gets home from her job that lets her be home shortly after the kids get there. They would be all over her. She tried to bemoan to me that she couldn’t even get in the house to change out of her work clothes. But in her eye there was a little twinkle that said she wouldn’t have it any other way.
Of course as kids grow up there are loads of afterschool school activities. But when you have a pile of say 8-12 year olds? If you can, make your home the afterschool go to home. You will be able to put those memories on your pillow every night and you will be giving the kids some “Mrs. Playford” memories that will last forever too.
Memories that will create grown-ups that will want to create and have the after school home on their block when they have kids-and then their kids will do it and their kids, kids… What would be better than that?
Drive safe-school is in session.
Trina lives in Eureka. Her book ITY BITS can be found on Kindle. Share with her at firstname.lastname@example.org.