Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Lily prepares for middle school

Really, she's been preparing all summer. Life went on, with camp, computer, some TV (mostly netflix), but also math homework pages and practicing flute and piano. But I sense it was always in the back of her mind. Still, she forgot it during family camp last week and I didn't remind her. It wasn't until we were driving home on Saturday afternoon that she suddenly said, "School starts next week!" Wednesday, to be specific.

But this year I decided not to leave this all until the last minute. So when Land's End had a big sale with free shipping in late July, we ordered a bunch of clothes for my now incredibly tall daughter -- she's about five-two, and all legs -- and still growing. We did shirts, leggings, a down vest, a backpack and matching lunch box, and shoes that were too big so we sent them back. Then we went to JC Penney's weekly sale for a few more things -- mostly jeans, now that she can wear them to school, and a special blouse she really liked.

Her new school, JFK Middle School, has a looser dress code than Bement, but as Dave keeps saying, we're going to continue to enforce much of the old code. I am fine with her wearing jeans, as long as they are clean and not torn, and I don't need all her shirts to have collars, although I don't want her t-shirts to have writing on them. Also, the school does say shoulders have to be covered -- no tank or string tops -- and skirts and shorts have to be mid-thigh at least, stuff like that. Also, no hats, to her dismay. Dave says, "we can just say what our guidelines are for her," so we are doing that.

Next she and I went to Staples for school supplies. Her grandmother thoughtfully gave her $20 to accessorize her locker -- lockers are the big deal for middle schoolers, getting one, using one, decorating one, not getting shoved into one, not forgetting the combination, using the combination -- and she bought a shelf, a mirror, a little basket, and some magnets. All her old notebooks and stuff were falling apart so she also got stuff like a binder, pencil case, looseleaf paper, an assignment book. Turns out the school gives you one of those. Oh well.

Finally, we went to the new Goodwill in town for their end-of-summer dollar sale -- everything a dollar. I had been a couple of weeks before, looking for a costume for Lily's performance as the adult Simba in The Lion King at camp, and picked up a couple of very cheap shirts I knew she'd like -- the kids clothes are really cheap and in good condition, and the racks are very well organized. This time we did more of the same, and also got our free monthly book -- everyone can take a book a month, for free.

[A word about Goodwill. It was founded in Boston a century ago and we used to donate to it when I was a kid and it was known as Morgan Memorial, but in the early eighties, when I was working at a homeless shelter for women in Boston, I was told that the owner had a separate antique business and he'd skim off the best donations and sell them for profit. I don't know if this is true but it always left a bad taste in my mouth and I was ambivalent when this one opened up, just a mile from my house.

But we finally got over there, and my concerns were answered very satisfactorily by one of the managers, who gave me lots of reasons not to like Salvation Army and its anti-gay policies. She said each Goodwill is kind of a franchise and distributes its profits to its own beneficiaries, and that this one works directly with those folks. She seemed genuine and truthful and I felt a lot better.]

At any rate, we got a pile of clothes and some books for something like $10, including some stuff for the rest of the summer. And we had fun. A great place to inexpensively scratch that shopping itch.

Back from our week in Vermont, we spent Monday and Tuesday, hanging out, talking about school, and the summer, and just stuff. She decided she wanted a special dinner on Tuesday night, the night before school started, so among our many errands those couple of days -- the transfer station, the Y a couple of times (they had a big fire in the women's locker room and I had to pick up the contents of my locker and see if any of it was salvageable; none of it was), Dave's for catfood and a wicked cool new toy for Chance, etc. -- we went to the Big Y for groceries. She'd decided on baked ziti and garlic bread.

With our help she found a recipe, checked the pantry for what we had, wrote up the ingredients she needed, decided to have cooked carrots as her vegetable, and then found it all at the store. We also got a congratulations balloon and flowers -- lilies, her choice -- in honor of the big day. She tried to get me to get her an iTunes gift card but I said, enough. Now you need to work hard at your school work, and later we can talk about gift cards and other rewards.

[By the way, if anyone reading this is wondering what to get her for her birthday or Christmas, she has been asking for gift cards lately, from iTunes, Barnes and Noble, and similar places. She also really likes our fabulous local science and nature store, A2Z, and they sell gift cards, of course.]

I can't stand store-bought pasta sauce so after we got home I made our own and she put together the rest of the ingredients for her ziti. Dave came home and helped her.

The rest of the day she painted her nails over and over, so they'd match her outfit (!), which she had picked out two days earlier (!!). She showered and washed her hair and continued to practice hair styles. She picked up her room, and her desk downstairs, and put away all her laundry just like I asked. She got to bed pretty early. She slept well. She was ready.

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