“You know who’s going to come to school next week?” Zachary asked in the bath last week.
“No, who?” his father replied, only about two-sevenths paying attention because he was attempting to scrub tofu out of Benjamin’s hair.
“The grandparents!” Zach announced. Suddenly, he had J’s full attention, or, rather, I did. My husband turned around and shot me a look about eight paragraphs long.
“I told the teachers,” I muttered as I zipped up Lilah’s pajamas, then louder to my son: “Baby, it’s Grandparents’ and Special Friends’ Day.” Despite my reminders that we would be providing a special friend in lieu of a grandparent, it seems that the teachers had been advertising only the first half of the title.
J took over. “Grandma and Grandpa aren’t going to be there, Zach. You get a special friend. Andrew is going to come to your school.”
Zachary got a four-year-old look on his face. “I don’t want Andrew,” he snapped. “I want Grandma and Grandpa.”
Benjamin perked up, turning away from his Nemo toys. Someone had said his favorite word. He began a monologue about people and his school and visits and the Grumpy Lizard and GRANDPA. He’s really into Grandpa, but we’re pretty sure he’ll be thrilled when he realizes Wanda is going to be visiting his class.
The conversation had aftershocks over the next few days, when every time we mentioned that J’s best friend and his family were coming for the week, Zach would start in about not wanting Andrew. Once they arrived, of course, he was reminded that Andrew is the only person he knows who never gets tired of conversation, so Zach was too busy talking his ear off to remember that this was an also-ran.
Still, when you were the kid without a mother to show for Mother’s Day or a father to come in for Father’s Day, you get kind of sensitive. They don’t call these events “Guardian’s Day,” believe it or not, and it always felt like the school plays and assemblies and graduations were events specially designed to remind me that there weren’t any adults who gave a fuck about my existence. So, forgive me for hovering, but I am trying my damndest to be everything for these kids, given that they are short on extended relations and those we are still speaking to live a very long way away. And, when I rustle up two friends to cover Grandparents’ and Special Friends’ day, I’d appreciate if you didn’t start applying White Out to the second half of the title.
I might have been a wee bit testy yesterday when Zach’s teacher asked me, “How many people are coming in for Grandparents’ Day?” because I read the fine print. Andrew may be thirty-five years younger than all the other visitors in the preschool this morning, but I can assure you he is a very special friend.