I knew by Friday morning at 6:43 that it was going to be a long weekend. The wake up call involved Eli screaming bloody murder and jolting me out of a deep enough part of my sleep cycle that I couldn’t figure out how I’d gotten to a planet populated by midgets screaming about weapons. The tragedy involved losing the sword of the Star Wars guy—Commander Someone. Eli is finally pooping in the potty, but it costs us a star wars figure for every deposit—desperate times…. And everyone can thank me for not posting the picture of event number one that Manuel and Eli took to make sure that yoga didn’t keep me from this precious moment. At 6:44 the other two barreled out of bed and immediately made it clear that my failure to read the Thursday folders was a giant mistake and yet another example of my failings as a mother. I think Walk To School Day, Pastries 4 Parents, Crazy Hair Day, and bring your money in for Jump Rope for Hearts was just too much for one morning. It was an all action all the time morning complete with Rebecca having a fit because I could only find five hair ties before having coffee and she needed SEVEN for her crazy hair do.
Saturday was not much calmer. The kids were headed out of town to the circus with their grandparents and cousins. Before they went Manuel made them run laps around the house in the downpour, which they did senza rain coats because the wanted to “Feel the rain upon their skin” We could not go with them because I had to go to a Banquet, an a-capella group concert, and a senior recital all in the space of 24 hours. I was delighted to learn at the banquet that we have a polo team—as in horses not water. And I enjoyed hearing about music with an “oriental influence.” The whole weekend challenged my closet, and I ended up having to borrow a frock from a friend. It was a gorgeous dress I thought, but I missed the memo about how you were supposed to wear short and strapless no matter how old you are.
By the time we hit the UVa events, Manuel and I were both pretty wiped. I had one of those bright ideas that seems like it should be no big deal but actually completely knocks you out. In conjunction with the Presidents inauguration UVa had a day of service. I’ve been doing a lot of volunteer work with an afterschool program in the West Haven housing projects—a community that feeds into Jonathan and Rebecca’s school. The big idea was that we should use the option of energetic young bodies to overhaul the rec center in order to create a nicer place for the kids. I thought I’d just fill out a form and get a bunch of sweet young things to do the work—not so much. While we were at it we got a nice chunk of cash to completely stock the place with arts and crafts and school supplies. And, I thought, as long as we’re doing it we ought to get book donations. Let’s just say I’ve never spent that much time or money in Wal-Mart, and, while I enjoyed spending a lot of someone else’s money on games and arts and crafts supplies, the fluorescent lights did me in. The rain was definitely our gain—at about 9:30 eighteen UVa kids showed up in a caravan of Subaru’s and SUVs. Some of the people I know wanted to make sure I actually knew these kids... We completely emptied out a wall of books and disposed of at least eleven boxes of useless books including four out of date encyclopedias, twelve science books from the 1970’s, a large number of old gardening magazines, and at least four different books about sheep births. Manuel could not figure out why someone had donated 4 years worth of American Nurseryman to the rec center. The room now looks amazing and it would have taken those of us who usually do things there six months to do it. Luckily we had one organized person with us (not me).
This was an impressive event. Charlottesvills is still frighteningly segregated, and kids grow up a quarter of a mile from UVa in conditions that are unimaginably difficult to most UVa faculty and students. It is more than a world apart. Words like achievement gap and class difference don’t even begin to capture it. So, as a parent of kids in the public school and a UVa faculty member, I found it really touching to see a group of UVa students get their hands very dirty with some public school teachers, moms, and West Haven community members.