In the next week, Lauren helped fill out applications and set up interviews for Patrick and Alison at a couple of nearby private schools. She also helped Pete, Joe, and Andy plan Alison’s birthday. Ali was accepted into three of the four schools and after tours of each school, Patrick picked the one down the street. Pete and Joe were hell bent on putting something at least semi dangerous (and all awesome) into Ali’s party.
“Come on Lo,” Pete whined. “At least let us get her a pony!”
“You shut your whore mouth,” Lauren hissed, pointing her spatula at Pete threateningly, and casting a worried look over at Ali sitting on the couch watching television. “If she hears you say the word p-o-n-y she’ll never let it go.”
“Ok. Ok,” Pete said, smirking and raising his hands defensively. “You got it boss. What about a bouncy castle.”
“See, there you go,” Laura said, returning to her cooking. “That’s a good idea.”
“I still want to get her a pony,” Joe muttered.
“I’m warning you Joseph.”
“Piñatas are always fun,” Andy interjected, taking a bite of an apple.
“Nice and wholesome.”
“Flaming lawn darts?” Joe asked.
“Krissy and Evan?” Pete suggested.
This went on for a few more minutes. Among the things Lauren turned down were Pin-the-Tail-on-Pete, fake tattoos, and mud wrestling.
“Dinner!” Lauren hollered throughout the house. Everyone gathered at the table. When the kids were dished up, Laura asked, “So Ali, are you excited about going to school tomorrow?”
“Yes!” She sang.
They finished their meal and Ali said goodnight to her uncles and ran upstairs to brush her teeth. She wanted to go to bed early.
“Adorable isn’t it?” Pete asked as Ali scampered up the stairs.
Ali woke Patrick and Lauren up at 6 AM the next day. “Wake up!” She yelled jumping on the bed. “I have to go to school!!”
“Not for another three hours, Ali,” Patrick said, groggily but with a smile on his face. “Come here, let’s watch Sesame Street.”
A while later, Colin was awake and crying in his crib. Patrick went to get him while Lauren and Alison went to go make breakfast.
“Lauren, can I put on my outfit yet?” Ali asked in the middle of breakfast.
“Once you finish your pancakes, sweetheart.” Patrick came downstairs with the baby and kissed Lauren’s temple as he passed. “Morning,” she said. “Good morning little man.”
The baby reached out for her and Lauren took him.
“DONE!” Ali shouted, pushing away from the table.
“Trick, can you help her get dressed? I’ll finish making her lunch.”
“Sure. Want me to take Colin?”
“Nah, I’m almost done. Thanks.” Five minutes later Ali pranced back down the stairs followed by Patrick. She had her plaid jumper on with her Dora the Explorer backpack. “My my, don’t we look cute.” Lauren handed her her lunch box. “Ready to go?”
“Good. Let’s take your picture, then Uncle Patrick can take you to school.”
“Aren’t you coming too?” Ali asked.
“I’ll be there to pick you up after school, ok?” Lauren smoothed her hair down.
Lauren took a picture of Ali then of Ali and Patrick. Then she stood on the porch and waved as Patrick and Ali walked down the street.
Later that day, Patrick and the boys were at a meeting, so Lauren strapped Collin into the stroller and walked down to Alison’s school. Once there, Lauren followed signs into the building to the front office where she was told that kindergartners through third graders were picked up after school at their classrooms. The secretary then kindly showed Lauren to Alison’s room.
In the hall there were a few other women waiting for the bell to ring presumably to pick up their children. Lauren smiled at them and took an empty spot along the wall. Collin began to get fussy, so Lauren knelt down and took him out.
“What a cute little boy,” one of the women said.
“Thanks,” Lauren said standing up. “This is Collin. I’m Lauren.”
“I’m Julia,” the lady said. She was about ten years older than Lauren. “I’m McKenzie’s mom.”
“Nice to meet you,” Lauren said. The bell rang and the door to the classroom opened. The mothers went in, Julia beckoned Lauren to follow.
“I figure you must be new,” Julia said as they stood surveying the scene of twenty five-year-olds playing. “Which one’s yours?”
“Oh. Alison,” Lauren said pointing her out.
“She’s coloring with my McKenzie. Are you her mom?”
“No.” Alison had just looked up. Lauren waved to her. “I’m her-“
“Lauren!” Alison said, running over to her and hugging her around the legs.
“I’m her Lauren,” Lauren said to Julia, unsure of how to explain it. Then she knelt down, “Hey kid. How was school?”
“It was awesome.”
“Did you make friends?”
“Yes ma’am. McKenzie and Adam and Jason and Olivia and Maria and…and…”
“You can tell me all about it on the way home and I bet Uncle Patrick will want to hear everything when he gets home,” Lauren said grinning and standing.
“Ali,” a little girl’s voice said. “Come meet my mommy.”
It must have been McKenzie because it was Julia who bent down to introduce herself. When she stood, Alison turned to me and said, “Lauren, this is McKenzie.”
“It’s nice to meet you,” McKenzie said. She had long blonde pigtails and blue eyes.
“It’s nice to meet you, too.”
“Alright, Kenz, it’s time to go,” Julia said.
“Us too, Ali,” Lauren said.
“Ok!” The girls said together.
Julia and McKenzie waited for Lauren to buckle Collin back into the stroller and walked out of the school with them. Then they discovered they lived up the same street. Alison and McKenzie walked a little way in front of Lauren and Julia while they talked.
“So you guys just moved in?” Julia asked.
“Ya. We just got done with a tour and Alison turns five in a week so it was time for her to go to school.”
“Alison lives with her Uncle Patrick who’s in a band. My brother was their manager and I’m a friend of the band. When Patrick was given custody of Ali and Collin, they asked me to nanny on tour. The boys are a little clueless so I’m sticking around for a while to help out.”
“Oh, I see. And Ali turns five soon?”
“Yes next weekend. The boys are planning her party for Saturday.”
“McKenzie should come,” Lauren said. “Ali doesn’t have any friends since we were living on the road. The boys have this crazy kids party planned with a moon bounce and enough cake to feed a small army. I’m sure Ali would love to have a kid her age around.”
“I’m sure McKenzie would love to come!” Julia said. “If you have the room, I could rally the other moms and you could invite the entire class.”
“That’d be wonderful!”
“No problem.” She pulled her phone out. “Give me your number, I’ll text you when I hear from the other parents.”
“Sure.” Lauren gave her number to Julia.
Julia spent the rest of the walk informing Lauren of all the going ons at school. They spent a few minutes in front of Patrick’s finishing their conversation. “Ok, Ali, it’s time to go inside.”
“Ok,” Alison answered Lauren. “Bye McKenzie!”
“By Ali!” McKenzie hugged Alison.
“It was so nice to meet you,” Lauren told Julia.
“You too!” Julia said. “You’ll hear from me later this evening.”
Julia and McKenzie continued walking up the street while Ali raced Lauren pushing Collin in the stroller to the front door. Once inside, Ali flung her backpack on the bench along with her lunchbox, all the while chattering about her teacher Mrs. March and all her new friends. Lauren made her a snack and made Collin a bottle. Ali was settled on the couch watching some kids’ show and Collin was playing happily on the floor when Patrick and the boys came in.
“Hey,” he said, coming up behind Lauren who was making dinner and kissing her cheek.
“Hi. Hello boys!”
“How’s it going?”
She giggled. “I’m good. How was your meeting?”
“Pretty spectacular,” Pete answered.
“What I want to know,” Patrick said a little louder, “was how Ali’s first day of school was.”
Ali shot off the couch telling her uncles all about her day.
After the kids were in bed, Lauren and the boys were watching television when Lauren’s phone beeped. She checked her text messages and replied, smiling. Her head was in Patrick’s lap and her feet in Pete’s.
“What are you so happy about?” Patrick asked.
“Hope you’re prepared for twenty-two five year olds,” Lauren said to Pete, Joe and Andy.
“Because Ali’s entire class is coming to her birthday party.”
“How did you pull that off?” Patrick asked. He had been worried that Ali’s party would just be her and Collin and a bunch of adults.
“I made friends with Julia, McKenzie’s mom.” The boys had heard so much about McKenzie from Alison that they all nodded. “She knows all the moms, so she helped me out with the inviting.”
“You’re a superhero,” Patrick said.
“Yup,” Lauren responded.
“And sooooooo modest,” Pete said, tickling her feet.
“Nooooo Pete! STOPPPPPPP!” Lauren twisted trying to free herself. Patrick helped hold her down. “This is sooooooooo unfair!” she shrieked.
“Hush,” Patrick said calmly, with a grin, “You’ll wake the baby.”
Lauren continued to struggle and finally managed to free herself, but still flailing, she fell onto the floor. “Ouch.”
“Are you ok?” the two boys asked together.
“Yes,” Lauren said grudgingly. “You guys are mean.”
“You know you love us,” Pete said offering a hand to her.
She took it and allowed herself to be pulled back up onto her couch. “I guess.”
Patrick pulled her toward him, his arm around her. “You so love us.”
“Shut it, I’m watching television.”
A/N: Procrastination during finals week led to this chapter. Hope you enjoy it! Leave me a review!