Every Thursday, the elementary schools in Bellingham have early release. (Sucks to be in middle school.)
On our recent sunny Thursday, Oliver and I were driving down the hill with the roof down on the dented minivan. I observed an indeterminate male object2 walking up the street. I was alarmed that I might have misjudged the school bus timing, and lost our chance at boys' afternoon out.
2In my defense, he was the only person I saw all day in a parka. Other than my daughter Rosalind, of course.
For once I swear every word you will read is absolutely accurate. Not just true. [Ed. Note: Even Oliver’s crack about the three junior Leishman brothers’ alma mater, Bellingham High School.] I contemporaneously typed this as soon as we got in the house, while Oliver made himself a snack after his first workout at the bike park this year.
[Driving down Sehome Hill]
PAPA: Oliver, is that guy in middle school?
OLIVER: No, he’s either in high school or college. Definitely college. He’s a Western person.
PAPA: Do you think he's coming home for the day now?
OLIVER: No, he’s in between periods. College people have hours of free time between classes.
PAPA: What would you do with that time?
OLIVER: It depends on my homework. If it’s easy, I’ll do it then.
PAPA: And if it’s hard?
OLIVER: I’ll wait till tomorrow. Or if I can’t finish the easy homework in an hour, I’ll just chill.
[Driving past the elementary school playground next to the city skate park]
OLIVER: [suspiciously] What are those kids doing on the playground?
PAPA: Just playing after school after early release. All the elementary schools in Bellingham have the same schedule.
OLIVER: I know, I’m not stupid. I thought it might be some special program.
PAPA: I think it’s just Carl Crozier Elementary School.
OLIVER: Oh, then it can’t be a special program. My teacher said Carl Crozier got bad reviews. Even the food.
OLIVER: Actually all the food sucks.
[Across the street from the skate park, a Bellingham School District bus unloads students at the civic stadium]
PAPA: Oliver, what do you think they’re playing?
OLIVER: Football. Tackle football. [Oliver regularly insists that he will be playing “tackle football” starting in middle school. Oliver says he’ll play football for the University of Washington Huskies eventually, but he doesn’t plan to go pro.]
PAPA: I’m pretty sure it’s soccer. [Patiently. However, Papa is already weary of reasoning with Oliver on this subject. Papa is preparing to use one of his limited lifetime supply of JUST BECAUSE I SAID SO’s on this. Yes, it’s that big a deal.] [Ed. Note: meanwhile Eleanor was hit hard by a volleyball in competition this week. You’re betting she got the concussion protocol, aren’t you?]
OLIVER: No, it’s tackle football.
PAPA: I see girls playing.
[Arriving on the hill before the girls get home from school]
OLIVER: [Referring to the gentleman in the parka.] I don’t get Western people.
PAPA: Me either.