Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
“Which one is yours?” I ask Kristy, whom I’ve never met, of the dozens of boys milling around a school cafeteria.
“Oh, you can’t miss him,” she says, rolling her eyes, of her son Jordan. “He’s the one in the shorts and cowboy boots.”
Sure enough, there he is, entering the door, his chipper ensemble topped off by square white sunglasses.
“That’s nothing,” she says. “You should have seen what he wore for the sheepdog trials” – evidently, his long team-blue game socks, a long blue jersey, and a cowboy hat with, of course, the shorts. “That’s just … him,” she says.
I am one of three mothers doling out lasagna (mine having been finished at 11:30 the night before, and re-heated in my office’s microwave), bread and salad before a high school football game. Last week I helped at the concession at a soccer game; Mike needs to man the grill soon. And these are but soldierly tasks, paltry compared to the efforts of the parent organizers.
The candy and popcorn stocked and sold in concessions; the dishes washed after fundraising lunches; the breads and cakes rising in night ovens for the bake sales; branches trimmed and sod lain down in school yards: This is adult life K to 12.
In truth my heart often sinks a little, to be tasked to make the lasagna or chili or whatever it is. Who among us isn’t busy?
I gaze out at a buffet line of boys of every height, build, hair color and hue.
Roy and Trae are talking; Trae is kneeling and gesturing, demonstrating something as Roy nods. Trae is 265 pounds and Roy, my younger son, 104.
Moments later I glance back. Trae has Roy in a headlock. Roy is smiling.
Roy explains later, “Oh, we were telling each other moves from tap-out [games], and the UFC.”
Receiving his plate, tall Trae thanks us. Most if not all of the boys do.
When I stand at the table or, other days, above the cash box, I get to see the kids. The youth of our present and future. My sons’ peers. Whom I see less of, now that the boys are in high school.
I remember saying to Teddy, as he entered ninth grade, “Oh, look, parents can come to the assembly.”
“Oh, no, you’re not,” he said.
“But it says here, they’re welcome.”
“You’re not coming anywhere near that school. I am not being the only freshman whose mother is there.”
“It’s – no one would -“
“I know you,” he said. “You’d be sittin’ right up front. Smiling and nodding.”
This year, as my second son embarked upon his freshman year, he instructed me to wait by my car to pick him up for appointments.
“This is high school,” he said. “You can’t just come in and smile and stare at people anymore.”
In the cafeteria now, two boys I know acknowledge their pre-game nervousness, and I say, knowing it to be true myself, “That’s OK, you can make it work for you.”
The football players fan around the tables.
“They’re so quiet,” I say.
Kristy laughs. “They’re eating.”
Finishing, the boys fold and stack the tables without being asked, then file out for “pregame.” Dakotah, a running back and the last one out, stops halfway across the floor, turns, and says, “Thanks, mothers!”
In sudden quiet, Kristy and our organizer, the smiling Kim, whom I’d also recently met, pack up dishes while I wipe surfaces.
I remember friends of my parents long ago saying that, when their kids moved out, they’d missed how they met people through them.
That morning, I’d seen a friend, Sandy, as I lugged my glass pan and huge hot plate in with me to work.
“Ah, I remember all that,” she mused. Her sons are grown. “Then one day it all comes to a crashing halt.”
I think of my friends whose kids left for college last fall, of teary partings. Of a parting that lies just around the corner.
“And then,” Sandy added serenely, “you get your own life again.”
– “Femaelstrom” appears on the third Saturday of each month. Alison Osius lives in Carbondale, where she is a climber, skier and magazine editor. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Policy that dictates what for-profit activities should be officially sanctioned within Glenwood Springs parks is being reviewed by city staff and will likely come before the city council for final approval later this summer.