In which J. worries all the way to 2018 and beyond
Since I have been advised by my R.E. against swimming and any high-impact exercise during the two week wait (or, as J. likes to sing it, the "Loooooteal Phase! Yeeaw!"), J. has been kind enough to accompany me on long daily walks around the neighborhood. We spend sixty or ninety minutes wandering north or south, east or...not so much west, actually, as we're about six blocks east of a really sketchy part of Oakland. Sometimes we take to the hills, with their lovely views and pleasant trees, with the wildly theatrical Mormon tabernacle perched up top. Sometimes we stroll quaint streets lined with craftsman bungalows and glean ideas for our own house or landscaping.
Yesterday, to liven things up, we decided that our walk could only consist of streets that we had not traversed within the last two years, give or take. We could cut across more familiar Lanes and Courts and Ways and Circles, but for no more than a block, and only if we would otherwise be stuck. These rules necessitated that we flirt with those neighborhoods a bit to the west, the "transitional" areas where the housing market has not yet caught fire but the local business row is no longer comprised entirely of bail bondsmen, manicurists, pager stores and Dunkin Donuts.
As we made a turn down one of these unfamiliar urban streets, looming before us we saw an enormous junior high school with a giant playground, a hundred kids running around, laughing and playing basketball. My mind immediately started to wonder about their test scores, to file away in the back of my brain should we have the need in thirteen or fourteen years. It looked pretty nice to me, especially considering the neighborhood.
Now, I should mention here that, with the exception of one unforgettable year at a "real' elementary, I went to a single school for kindgergarten through tenth grade, when I left for good. It was a public "alternative school"--one started up in 1971 by a group of parents, including my mother, for "highly motivated students". (Its real claim to fame was in having no mandatory courses or homework. If you wanted to make cranberry sauce and do macrame all day, that was AOK.) Anyway, what we lacked in academic rigor we made up for in abysmal facilities. Our buildings were a series of temporary trailers. Our science lab consisted of a miasma-inducing refrigerator with two or three dozen formaldehyde-soaked frogs, one microscope and a sink. For P.E., we had tetherball (one pole) and a handball wall against which we generally lounged and enjoyed the sunshine. There was no cafeteria, no locker room, no auditorium. But since I never knew anything different, I figured it was pretty normal. J., on the other hand, son of two public school teachers, spent most of his formative years in Carmel-by-the-Sea, the tiny, idyllic and stinking rich town best known for having Clint Eastwood as Mayor and for outlawing the public consumption of ice cream in an effort to prevent a Baskin and Robbins franchise from opening up shop. His schools, as you might imagine, were a wee bit different from mine.
So the stage is set for what comes next, when J. says to me, "You know, I don't think our kid can go to this school. The whole play yard is asphalt. Where's the grass? Also, it looks like they don't have a pool, so how will he play water polo?"
As I cackled, I was also a little touched that he was thinking so far ahead.