The First Day of School Debrief

“She’s not here yet.”

Kristen looked a little less like her usual calm self as she struggled with Aiden’s bag, two bags of groceries and a huge pile of mail.

“Oh. We were having first day of after school drinks.”

“I know. I’m making Cosmopolitans. She wants a Sex and the City Theme.”

“Theme? I thought it was just me?”

“It is. She’s still at the golf club. She’ll be home soon.”

“Caroline plays golf?”

“No. But she likes the 19th hole. I think she’s there with Sarah.”

“Oh.” Sarah had mentioned her landscaper was working on part of the Lower Snobsville Golf Course.

“Yeah. I bet the scenery on the greenery is keeping her entertained a bit longer than she’d hoped.” For a moment I stifled a smirk, then realised that there was no need since the gaggle was not around.

Kristen was opening the mail.

“Caroline let’s you open her mail?”

“Yep. She doesn’t want to see it. It’s too stressful. I forward the bills to her husbands PA and pass ont eh party invitations to her. The grown up once I mean.” She was grimacing.

“What’s the matter? Is that a particularly taxing party invite you’ve got there?”

She smiled at me like I was in on the satire that encompassed her life.

“You’ve probably got one too. It’s from Tarquin’s mum.”

“Who’s Tarquin?”

“Haven’t the girls told you? His mother was chairperson of the board at Lower Snobsville Prep. She’s tipped to be named class mother by the school.”

“It’s only the first day!”

“Yeah. I bet Linda will be pis…I mean upset.”

“Yeah probably. By the way, you know I was from Nepleabean Heights? You can swear in front of me.”

She smiled gratefully, then leaned in a little as if she was going to share a secret with me. “Anyway. Check this out.”

It was an invitation card in red and blue stripes with a picture of a boy, (Tarquin I assume), on the front. Inside in gold leaf writing was the following text:

TARQUIN‘S TURNING 6!

We hope you can make it.

A handwritten note was folded on the other side of the card. At first, I was sure it was a joke.

Below are some helpful guidelines for choosing an appropriate present for the birthday boy:

* No plastic toys, including no electronics (Tarquin’s EXCEPTIONAL imagination should fuel the play experience, not AAA batteries)

* No branded items (e.g. Disney, Superheroes), collectibles (e.g. Pokemon cards) or anything that is directed toward the “mass market.” (e.g. Diary Of A Wimpy Kid series)

* No dress up or costumes (we don’t want Tarquin to feel that he needs to be anyone else except his utterly unique and EXCEPTIONAL self)

* No items that can directly promote violence/ might incite rough play (e.g. Nerf guns, balls, marbles) or items that imply that athletic ability is anywhere as important as EXCEPTIONAL cognitive abilities (e.g. sporting equipment).

We DO enthusiastically welcome wooden toys (provided they are manufactured by a country that is a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol), bona fide art supplies (e.g. Cretacolor Sanguine Oil Lead Sketching Pencils – yes; Crayola products – no) and educational toys. However, please bear in mind that Tarquin’s EXCEPTIONAL cognitive abilities far exceed his chronological age. If in doubt, please err on the side of choosing the more advanced gift.

Lastly, please no donations to “charity” or purchases of livestock inTarquin’s name. Whilst Chester and I want Tarquin to understand the importance of giving to others who are less fortunate, our family does have high standards in terms of the organisations we support, including their ROI and level of true deservedness of the recipients. Moreover, we don’t want to deny your child the opportunity to learn how to become a gracious “giver.”

Tarquin is looking forward to seeing Aiden at his party!

 “Wow.”

“Yep. I guess that kid is really exceptional.”

“Apparently.”

I recalled my indecision at selecting the prep Christmas gifts for Luke’s friends and suddenly knew why Kristen had looked so worried. I must have looked concerned, because Kristen smiled kindly and said “I can get you Luke’s gift. I’ll be getting one for Aiden to take anyway.”

“I don’t even know if Luke is friends with Tarquin.”

“I’m not. He’s boring” Luke and Aiden had been silently cataloguing Aiden’s newly received unopened Lego boxes, courtesy I can only assume, of Santa.

“Oh, you’ll get an invite.” Kristen turned her attention to me. “Don’t you know how it works yet Marley? She’ll invite everyone because she’ll want to make sure everyone sees her house on the water with the epic views. There’ll be organically grown and prepared treats for the kids and a sugar free, eggless, flourless cake. An entertainer or three will take care of the kids so she can kick back and get wasted with her friends – she doesn’t have to drive after all. And to finish it off there will be a small fireworks display. Something like that.”

It occurred to me that Snobsville was under Kristen’s skin today, and I felt an immediate kinship having felt that way myself at the school gate this afternoon.

“Hello, hellooooooo!” Caroline cooed as she walked in the door.

“Hi! How was golf?” Kristen didn’t miss a beat as Caroline made her entrance, and as if a switch had flicked she was back to being the good natured, always reliable and never put upon nanny in a heartbeat.

“Marvellous darling. Didn’t hit a ball. Better get out of these clothes and into something more comfortable. Worthy of a good chat, hey Marley? We need to debrief after the first day of school!”

“Don’t change on my account.”

“Oh I’m not. I just can’t be comfortable drinking cocktails in my white capris. We’re switching to cosmos – did Kristen tell you?” She was half way down the hallway now.

“Can you give this to Caroline? I’d better get the kids organised for afternoon tea.”

“Sure. I brought Luke’s bathers if he wants a swim. Layla is walking now, so can you keep an eye out?”

“Of course.”

As she turned to leave I called out to her. “Kristen?”

“Yeah?”

“You’re boyfriend makes excellent brownies.”

She blushed for a moment, staring inquisitively at my face. “Does Caroline know?”

“Yes dear. We’ve all been there. And you deserve to have a little fun once in a while. You work pretty hard here.”

“Well there are perks. Caroline got me a new Thermomix add on for Christmas. It’s worth a fortune.” I giggled, and Kristen held her index finger to her lips.

“I’ll let you know how much the gift for Tarquin is.”

“Thanks. For everything.”

“Anytime.”

Caroline re-appeared dressed in a bright Kaftan and gold heels.

“That’s better. Now, are the cocktails ready yet?”

“Just about. I made them up this afternoon. I just need to get the glasses out.”

“Correct glassware this time dear…”

“Sure Caroline. No problem.”

Caroline looked down at the invitation in my hand.

“Ugh. Tarquin. His mother is so smug. Now dear, tell me about the school pick up…any news?”

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