If It’s On The List

It wasn’t a big moment, a huge gesture or a cry out for anything.  In fact, it could have been easily missed.  But today I had the pleasure of ‘the look’, from him to me, that always says it all.  It’s pure love mixed with everything he needs, matching all that I give.

His new teachers arrived to show him around what seems, to him, like a massive school.   And so, as he slowly, gingerly left my side to join the embrace of a stranger, he glanced back at me and gave me the look.  It was filled with a cheeky smile, a heart that was racing (his and mine at this point) and a connection needed to step ahead into the unknown.  Genius.  Something so small and yet so significant that made both of us feel better.

I can’t say this transition has been that hard; we’re surrounded by family and old friends and a house that we love.  But the LA lists are starting to really get to me.  First off, school supplies.  In England, after purchasing a back pack and a few pens, you’re pretty much done.  Here, oh no.  You get the ‘supply list’.  I took everyone and their list and the dog and her list -seriously, had dog tags and bowls to buy, to Staples supply store.  It’s a warehouse filled with everything you’d want for your school or office.  I love these types of stores. Or at least I used to.

Each child had a basket and I took it in turns reading from these endless lists  trying to figure out just what they meant by tabbed folders and fastening binders.  Up and down the aisles, back and forth, grabbing all the wrong stuff and papers falling down all around us.  Finally, an hour and a half later, after blood (son’s paper cut), sweat (clearly mine) and tears (son’s pain as he runs into a filing cabinet) we go to check out only to find that one of my sons left his basket ‘somewhere’ and we had to start all over.  I swear, I nearly nearly had a disco freak out and the dog now wouldn’t stop barking.

$500 later we left for the doctor’s office for the ‘vaccinations list’ to be completed.  Four boys in one office is like watching monkeys in a zoo.  They climb, jump and play with everything in the tiny cubicle called a room.  Thank g-d I’m not a germaphobe because their hands went everywhere.  By the time the nurse enters, I ask for drugs, any drugs.  I get a nasty, curious stare as he begins to weigh and measure my animals.

Shots, shots and more shots later (the NHS in England apparently offers about 1/3 of the vaccinations needed here) I am soon assaulted by the bill.  They don’t take insurance anymore, of course, but I’m told the doctor will offer me a slight discount as I have quite a big family.  I say perhaps I should just get rid of a few to make it cheaper next time.  Again, the nasty curious stare.  Clearly I’m not that funny.

The lists continued that week, with the Emergency Pack List (in the event of an earthquake), the School Going Green List (which translates to you having to print everything off instead of them), and of course the Emergency Contact List.  This list did bring some pleasure to me as I finally could write my mom and sisters numbers down.  No hesitation.

Finally, the ‘Reading Lists’.  We choose to ignore them for two reasons.  Firstly, we just discovered them and getting the books read by next week would mean nothing short of a miracle.  And secondly, I have adapted the summer laid back bug whereby I thoroughly enjoy not pushing, yelling and fighting with my boys to get their work done.  Reading included.  So far, only one of my sons reads for enjoyment of any kind, and frankly I get so sick of the sound and content of my own voice during nine months out of the year that’s it a nice break for all of us.

I found in London the competition was quietly fierce; little Jonny was doing double back flips passed his peers and his mother kept it all under wraps.  Here, little Jonny is being filmed doing his double back flips with a tutor/coach for every activity and his mother has taken an add out at the school newsletter to publicly applaud him of his accomplishments so far.  I get sucked into wanting my kids to be great at something just like the rest but the time needed to dedicate to whatever sport/subject to transform good into great is immense.  Times four.

My boys have individually announced today that they are bored.  And I think, excellent, here’s my chance at an animated speech about boredom.  “To be ‘great’ you must push.  Being good is where I can probably help you, but being great…” My little one takes his sword out at this point and stabs an invisible monster.  “Being great has to come from you…” Now the dog enters and starts humping my other son.  Next son gets the giggles and fourth son just waits, waits for me to say that screens are back on, go play.

It’s still summer.  Go play.

About Jennifer

Jennifer is from Beverly Hills and has lived between London and LA since 1994. She's been a writer for over 20 years in the world of film, tv, travel and magazines and has been a class rep eight times and counting... She has just completed her first novel, Venerdi.
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5 Responses to If It’s On The List

  1. Weezy (aka) Luigi says:

    Love it!!! Hysterical. You’re definitely getting funnier now that you’re feeling better. So glad that you’re doing this (for you) but mostly for all of us that can appreciate your hectic life and the super woman that you are!!! Keep it going….XO

  2. diana phillips says:

    Jen, so lovely to “read” your voice…and follow your trails. Happy New Year, you are very much missed here in Blighty. xxx Diana

  3. lisa Villiers says:


  4. Isabella says:

    Hi Jen. I read you every week … and laugh…. We miss you!!!
    XXXX Isa

  5. Am loving this… the LA LISTS… that’s what you have to do for French schools. Even when they’re in London. And you have to do it IN FRENCH!!!! xxxx

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