Usually I reserve most of my baking until the fall, which I declare to begin on the first day of September even though that is not astronomically or climatologically accurate. This year, however, is the year my oldest child is starting kindergarten so EFF YOU AUTUMNAL EQUINOX. Fall starts now.
Yesterday, I made French toast for lunch and cinnamon bread and chili for dinner. The day before that it was meatballs and noodles and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. They days of blissing out over a dinner of grilled sausage, sliced cucumbers and watermelon are long gone.
The chili happened because yesterday was the day of the Welcome Walk, in which the elementary school teachers drive all over the neighborhood greeting each child in his or her (always her, who are we kidding) class at his or her own house.
According to the postcard, Charlie's teacher would be at our house sometime between four and seven. This presented a problem as I knew the kids would be hungry, but it would be hard to get Charlie to eat what with him refusing to come back inside and stop staring longingly up the street beginning around three thirty. Three thirty. He is nothing if not punctual.
So in a moment of foresight and planning uncharacteristic for me, I threw together some chili and stuck it in the crockpot to simmer while James took his afternoon nap. And that's how the first batch of chili came to be made on August 21 this year.
And as it turns out, it is good that I made some comfort food! Because KINDERGARTEN, OMG.
Charlie's teacher was the last teacher to come on our little street. First the teacher for the little girl across the street came. Then the girl down at the end of the culdesac, then the girl two houses down (lots of girls on our street). Then the boy next door, then his brother, then the girl on the other side of our house. When that happened I thought they were coming to our house so I called Charlie back from the culdesac and he sprinted up the hill Lance Armstrong style only to watch the big purple SUV turn around and drive away. He was a sad little kindergartener when that happened.
Finally a gold Honda Accord with tinted windows appeared at the corner then slowed to a stop in front of our house.
Charlie began jumping around and screaming like Tye Pennington had just rolled up in the big bus. Our driveway was full of kids waiting to see who Charlie's teacher would be. They all gathered around him with rapt attention as he stood awkwardly close to the door of her car.
The teacher got out of the car and said "Are you Charles?" He nodded slowly. She asked if he liked to be called Charlie. He nodded slowly. She introduced herself and he ran to the porch get the card he'd made and the Burt's Bees lip balm he'd chosen as a gift at the grocery store (I talked him down from lipstick). He worked so hard on his card, even looking up the spelling of the word "teacher" in his copy of Brown Bear Brown Bear (reference materials, he kills me) and was so proud to give it to her. In the thirty seconds Charlie was gone I looked at his teacher awkwardly thinking "So you're the one who's going to spend more hours a day with my kid than me" and willed her to understand how special I think he is. After Charlie gave her the card she tried to get in her car to leave but he ran over to his bike and retrieved a flower he'd picked for her. He handed it to her through the window.
I'm not going to brag, but she did say to the other teacher in the car as she put on her seatbelt "What a sweetheart, I'm so glad he's in my class!"
When Ryan came home five minutes later he got to hear the whole story screeched out in a breathless little voice punctuated only by his relentless jumping up and down.
And then we all went inside for chili and cinnamon bread. And I opened a Sam Adams.
Next week! How can it possibly be NEXT WEEK? I am not handling this well. It seems like he's going to walk out that door on Monday and I'm never going to see him again. Before I know it he'll be calling to tell me his fiance would really like to spend Thanksgiving with her parents but could I please mail him that sweater he left here last time because he doesn't know when he can make it back to get it and it's starting to get cold in Boston (where he's doing his postdoc at MIT).
Tonight I think I'll make chicken and dumplings. And maybe a pie. Or four.