Saturday, September 5 – Sunday, September 6, 605
It was the Saturday before school would start Monday, the end of Labor Day holiday, and Elise’s 31st birthday was the next day.
Elise had been working from home, on her lesson plans for the beginning of the school year. Once again, she was teaching the preschool and kindergarten class, as well as art for the elementary age children.
She had a quiet cup of coffee, one of the last of the summer vacation,
And then went to wake Helen from her nap.
James came in from setting up his areas at the school, feeling a little stressed about the upcoming school year, after receiving some preliminary emails from administration. This year, James was teaching math, science, and shop. The onsite high school classes in Simdale Valley were new this year; the result of Chelsea Finnbar’s lobbying at the state legislature last year. Nine students were enrolled for high school courses. Sheldon Bright would teach English and Social Studies, and be the Senior Class Advisor.
He grabbed some brats and headed straight outside for some grill therapy before dinner.
And then they all sat down for supper. James was uncharacteristically quiet at first, and Elise asked how his day went.
He said maybe they could talk about that later. “How’s my little munchkin?” he said to Helen.
“Munch!” she squealed.
Harrison said he found a arrowhead near the bridge. “And mom’s gonna have two frogs, and a ladybug terrarium in our classroom,” he said.
“I can guess who helped catch the frogs,” James smiled at Harrison.
But Elise corrected him, “No, actually the frogs are direct from a supplier, certified non-invasive frogs,” she said, grinning at Harrison. “I had to send them my teaching certificate number to order them, because you can’t just buy, or capture frogs.”
“Some people can, evidently,” James said, pointedly at Harrison.
“Well, not officially, you can’t just capture frogs,” Elise said. “Anyway, we don’t have a shortage around here, but overall, frogs are protected.”
“Mom’s new frogs are certified not enrangered,” Harrison added.
“En-dang-ered,” Elise corrected.
“And I see you guys picked up the new glasses,” James said. “What’s the plan for keeping up with these, Harrison?”
After James put Helen to bed, he headed downstairs to check on the latest talk about the weekend’s games. The PSU Llamas had ended up pulling out a win, and it was looking promising for this to be a fun season. James was pumped.
Elise came downstairs soon, and gave James a big hug. Pre-planning was often overwhelming, and Elise figured James was stressed about the workload. But that wasn’t what was bothering him.
He had just learned that three of the new high school students were unaccompanied youth. For some reason, they were living on their own, with no parent or caregiver to help them out. Simdale Valley was such a small town, there really weren’t a lot of resources already in place for homeless people in general, especially homeless youth. The kids, who were 14, 14, and 17, had registered themselves at school.
Mary Gavigan, who volunteered during registration, didn’t even know where the kids were staying right now. By law, she couldn’t ask, since if they are doubled up with another family it can put that family at risk of being evicted as well. However, it was really weighing on James, wondering whether they were safe.
Plus, Laney McElveen, the head of the school board, had really made James mad with her comment about the new family.
“Well,they aren’t the right kind of family,” Laney had said with a sweet smile, expecting James to smile, too. It may be true, the chamber of commerce and their lobbyist, Chelsea Finnbar, had lobbied for the new high school classes in spite of the current low population, to bolster the economy of the area, but still, Laney’s comment made James sick.
As they went to bed, Elise was kind of surprised there had been no talk or preparations for her birthday tomorrow. She wondered if they had forgotten.
But while she was brushing her teeth, James said, “Oh, I forgot. Moira invited us over to her house tomorrow.”
Mystery solved– Moira was throwing a party for her, and that’s why James and the kids hadn’t been preparing anything.
‘Before we go to bed,” Elise said, “James, those kids. I was thinking, we’ve got the basement… ”
James looked thoughtful. He was thinking, taking in homeless teens is a big commitment. Plus, as their teacher, he wasn’t sure if it was even allowed.
“I know it’s not something we can just do lightly,” she said, seeing his worried face. “But maybe it would work out.”
In the morning they walked up the hill and around the bend to Moira’s. When they arrived, the Brights and Gavigans were already there and everyone was ready to sing happy birthday to Elise.
Just as they started to sing, Chelsea Finnbar arrived. Chelsea had been a close friend of Elise’s when she first came to Simdale Valley, but since she moved to Port Prominence, and was really wrapped up in her lobbyist career, they just didn’t have as much in common anymore. But Chelsea was also friends with Moira, so she invited her knowing they used to be closer.
“This cake is yummy,” Harrison said, as he dug in.
“Cake is, by definition, yummy. So your observation was redundant.” Madeleine chided.
Harrison was too happy with Miguel’s excellent cake to protest.
The grown-ups headed outside to chat and enjoy the gorgeous, early fall day.
Chelsea looked over at Elise’s eldest, Harrison, who was 5. “Look at him,” she said. “I was still picturing him as a toddler. He’s walking around and doing stuff, like, by himself!”
“Yeah, they grow up so fast,” Elise said, quite proud of her little boy.
Mary asked them to come sit with them. She said she was really wanting another baby, now that Isaiah was already 11. Nathan looked embarrassed that she was telling this to people in public.
“Well, you said once we got a house, we could have more,” she replied. “And I’ve been waiting ten years for that to happen!”
Nathan found a stack of plates and headed in to the kitchen, too embarrassed to reply.
After he went inside, Isaiah said, “Mommy, why is dad upset?”
Elise turned to Mary. “James told me about the new kids… I guess you can’t really say anything about their situation, because, FERPA, but I hope someone can help them. Let us know if we can do anything.”
“Ok,” Mary said. “I’ll keep it in mind.”
Elise started thinking of all she needed to get done before the first day of school tomorrow, and as everyone started to excuse themselves, she told Moira thank you, and gave her a big hug. The Petites headed home for the first school night of the year.