Yesterday, I set in motion the shape of a portion of the next decade of our lives. In my morning uniform, ponytail and sweatshirt and sweatpants, I walked around and between middle and high-school-aged boys and girls, surprisingly familiar-looking; similar to Abbott and his peers in size and appearance. When I reached my destination, the high-ceilinged, light-filled school office, I told the receptionist, with a nervous, over-eager, beaming smile, “I have a deposit check for you! And a contract.” The head of the middle school, whose words largely sold me on the school at their open house, was shuffling through a stack of papers at the end of the counter. She looked up, and we exchanged wide smiles as she said, “Yay!” I felt like cheering, too.
I heard recently that something like sixty percent of kids in Seattle attend a private middle school. A lot can be said about that statistic, but there it is. For the past six months, since Abbott’s fifth grade year began, our family has been in middle school application mode: visiting open houses, touring schools, writing application essays, preparing for the ISEE (private middle school entrance exam), interviewing, and then, for the past couple of months, waiting. March 14, schools mailed out letters of acceptance, rejection, and wait listing. We had eleven days to make a choice between the schools where Abbott was offered admission. We re-read the notes we took at the open houses and tours, met with the head of Abbott’s current school to solicit her opinion, and talked with parents at each of the respective schools Abbott was accepted to. We thought about commute issues, considered which school is likely to be the best fit for both of our kids, and which seems strongest academically and in other ways. We re-visited the schools. Ultimately, comfortable with all the choices, we let Abbott decide. He liked them all, but one felt much more comfortable to him, instinctually, and after one final visit last Friday morning, he made up his mind. I felt elated all weekend. The decision was behind us; the contract was signed and ready to be delivered.
As I ate my lunch, I couldn’t shake the dreadful sense of finality that had come over me sometime after dropping off the contract. The lack of mystery in the years stretching out in front of us was unsettling. How did we go from having a ten year old to knowing what his life would look like until he’s a soon-to-be college freshman? The next big choice will be about college.
After school, the boys dyed eggs, and I tried out a recipe I’m considering making for an Easter gathering we’re hosting. A Limoncello Tom Collins recipe. We’re having another family in the neighborhood walk over and join us, after church, and egg hunting in our respective homes, mid-afternoon. After drinking a glass of it, I felt better. I remembered there is so much unknown in what is yet to come. Abbott will hit puberty in a heartbeat; he’ll become a teenager. He’ll have his first girlfriend. Maybe he'll join a band, or decide to become a physicist, or both. He’ll experience disappointment and uncertainty and pride. He'll always remember what it felt like to look out the window while sitting in his geometry class, where he liked to sit in the cafeteria, the jokes his science teacher told.
I can tell this will be my drink this spring, and perhaps on into summer. Sunday, I’ll pretend it’s one of those Easters when it’s 82 degrees outside (I doubt it has ever been 82 on any given Easter in the history of Seattle, but somewhere, it must be), or at least warm enough to eat with the windows open. We’ll look forward to summer, and all that is to come.
From Food & Wine
16 ounces limoncello (lemon-flavored liqueur)
12 ounces gin
8 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice
24 paper-thin lemon slices
24 ounces chilled club soda
8 mint sprigs
Combine the limoncello, gin and lemon juice in a pitcher, and refrigerate for at least two hours. Press three lemon slices against the outside of 8 collins glasses, then add ice to the glasses. Stir the limoncello mixture and divide among the glasses. Stir 2-3 oz club soda into each drink, to taste. Garnish with a mint sprig.
Yield: 8 servings