Sam and I decide to get involve, help out the PTA, let Mason know we care, maybe feel a little kinship with the other parents at Mason's preschool. The parents at the older kids' school already seem out of my league. I went to a get-together for moms and kids in Redding's second-grade class. While he had a ball jumping on a moonbounce in the yard, I sat for 10 minutes at a table of women speaking Spanish over and around me. One asked me, "De quien es usted la madre? Or something like that, which I figured was, "Which kid is yours?" I spotted Reddy's blond head, pointed him out, said, "Reddy" and that pretty much ended the conversation. I wasn't able to go any further and she either wasn't or wasn't willing. I hardly blamed her. So I picked at a plate of food, made myself an awful-tasting Paloma (sprite and tequila), which I had to dump in a cactus at the front door, and went home. Redding got a ride with someone else.
Well, back to the PTA meeting, which is quite similar in tone to other meetings we've been to at both schools. An administrator gets up in the front, starts going over rules and regulations, or a recycling campaign, or upcoming events, and I can understand about 20% of the words, mostly those that end in -cion, which sound a lot like their English counterparts that end in -tion: organizacion, administracion, funcion. Often they remember about 30 minutes into it that there are a couple of non-native speakers in the audience (Sam and I, generally) and make some hapless parent sit next to us to translate. By that time it's usually too late for me.
Sam gets a whole lot more than I do, but we've both realized once you've gone to one of these back-to-school nights, you've pretty much got the drill. This PTA meeting was held in the courtyard of Colegio Carrusel, Mason's preschool, folding chairs set up inexplicably in the hottest part of the patio. The sun was beating down, we're shading our eyes, straining to hear, not understanding much, and Sam whispers to me, "Now I know how the kids feel all day." And so did I. I was gone, zoning out, not really hearing anything but the sound of the janitor's weed-whacker and marveling that that was the first power tool I'd seen any gardener wield.