08 July, 2006

School's OUT!

Whew! It's been six months and four days since Avery began her odyssey through King's College Preparatory School, and we are all ready, I can safely say, for vacation. Homework, skating, swimming, ballet, handwriting, packing and unpacking the rucksack, do you have your tennis racket, drama club and LUNCH. No doubt by September she'll be raring to go again, but right now she's relishing choosing her own clothes every day, playing with Lucky, her new Build-a-Bear, and packing those essential items without which her summer in Connecticut will suffer. It's a motley assortment: a book on horseback riding with her beloved trainer Joey's picture in it, most exciting, her flute, an assortment of clothing that hasn't been worn since last summer, and all her fancy dress items for the Hamptons Classic. I must begin packing as well, although I confess to a sort of "what the hell" attitude toward it, as in why not just take a carry-on with a toothbrush and see what I find at Red Gate Farm? Plus Avery has outgrown nearly everything she owns that has a waistband or cuffs, so a major shopping trip is probably in the offing when we get back. I might as well do the same.

I'm also leafing through my catalogue of CityLit courses for September, since registration is this week. Shall I take "Writing for Children," or "Screenplays 101," or "Autobiography Into Fiction"? Or maybe more than one, why not. Spareribs marinated in my own special secret mixture are sizzling in the oven, and I think we'll pack our picnic basket and have dinner in Hyde Park, unless there is some mind-bendingly thumpy public concert going on. No one warned us about the dark underbelly of living adjacent to the park. It is really loud, when it is. Dunraven Street is a haven of peace, but even its gentle environs are pierced by the sheer decibel level of some of the bands that play. Oh no, I sound like a little old lady.

The last day of school was quite touching for Avery. I arrived at school to pick her up at noon, along with Anna and Ellie to give Becky some breathing room to pack for Scotland. I was chatting with my friend Angela when she suddenly said, "Avery's at the head of the group in the doorway, in floods of tears [one of my favorite English expressions]. You had better go see what's happening." And sure enough, there she was with her little pink cheeks and teary eyes, clutching all her belongings and looking quite forlorn. "What's wrong, what's happened?" I asked in some alarm. "It was a really SENTIMENTAL last assembly!" she quavered. "Form Six are really, truly gone." Poor dear. All the other mothers and the teachers were looking on in sympathy. "Perhaps it's the heat," Mrs Davies suggested. "No, she's just feeling sentimental about Edwina and her other Form Six friends leaving," I assured her. "Well, in my opinion the assembly was not quite the display of mawkishness that we have seen in years past," the lady mentioned darkly, and retreated into the school. Poor lady, can you imagine what her life has been like the past few weeks? All those cups to engrave, all those wounded egos to salve when not everyone can be Joseph in the play, all the report cards to sign with "Well done!"

I gathered up the girls and we headed to Nando's in Baker Street for a little rotisserie chicken and air conditioning, where I proceeded to blow my head off with spicy chicken wings. Ellie in particular watched with glee to see my head actually blow off and was quite disappointed to find it was merely a figure of speech. "But it could PARTLY blow off, which would still be fun," she suggested. We all looked over report cards, and I'm happy to kvell a bit and say that she just did marvelously. And it was quite a collection of documents, that report card. Accustomed as we are to the rather more minimal efforts of PS 234, as devoted as they were, the eight or so pages were rather intimidating! "Wow, the folder isn't blue or green, it's turquoise!" Avery marvelled. And with her name printed on the front and everything. All the teachers remarked on how wonderfully she had done with merely half a year. Good on you, Avery.

We're now about to watch a hilarious programme on the BBC called "Only Fools On Horses," a charity deal wherein minor celebrities raise money by riding and jumping, when most of them aren't any good. It will run for seven nights. Hard to believe that on night five, we'll be in Connecticut...

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