So… how was your first day?” I asked, searching his face for a clue as I awaited words to drizzle out in their own good time.
The shoulders shrugged.
“Ok,” he said, wiping his nose on his shirt collar as he spoke.
“Gross. Use a tissue.”
He blew his nose on a paper towel. Got a drink. And turned to walk away. That’s when the child noticed the continued presence of his mother standing in the kitchen. Looking at him.
She would need more.
“I made three new friends,” he offered, like a zoo keeper tossing fresh meat into the open jaws of a gator.
“Really?! What are their names?”
His face dropped. He didn’t realize the sharing of information would result in a test. He had spent the last six hours trying to navigate the horrors that is the first day of middle school, and just when he thought he was free, this woman was asking him questions.
My daughter, meanwhile, had spent the previous 20 minutes rattling away like a Friday night auctioneer, and she hadn’t even gotten past the morning bus ride. The child has never met a detail she didn’t like.
As for the morning recap, she had gotten up an hour early to shower, apply makeup, fix hair and make a breakfast sandwich...
The boy ran for the bus with one shoe on.
I had tactfully paused her chronology of her first day at high school like one does a three-part miniseries to give full attention to the boy.
“One was named Nick,” he began.
There was a long pause. And a breath.
I am sure there are boys who don’t run for the bus on the first day of school with one shoe on and don’t leave their water bottles on the kitchen table and happily tell their mothers details of the day. Mine just isn’t one of them.
“I don’t know what the other names were. No actually, there was only one other friend,” he said, deciding it would be easier to just delete a person from his life than troll his brain for the name of the kid he met in gym class.
“That’s fine,” I said, releasing the child from any further obligation to share.
At least for now.
There is always tomorrow.
I looked back to the girl.
“So now, let me tell you about my homeroom…”