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Birth of the (Almost) Cool

For some reason (having to do with “too many social workers”? Still not exactly sure) my family and I left our home in Vermont and moved to Rhode Island, where the VERY first thing a Providence mom said to me on my son’s first day of preschool was, “Where are you going to send your son to kindergarten?” And I was all like, “Huh? I dunno. The Providence schools? ” And she was like, “The public schools aren’t that good. Everyone sends their kids to private schools.” And I was like, “Are you fucking kidding me? Do you even know how OUTSTANDING the public schools are in Vermont? You can barely get a teaching job in Chittenden County because there are so many over-qualified professionals! But, okay — whatever —  I’m working as a part-time CATERER right now and I’m not really feeling the whole private school TUITION vibe and — also — why the FUCK does Moses Brown have a FOOTBALL TEAM when they’re a QUAKER school?!” Anyhow, we found a (barely) affordable house and moved to Barrington, one of two towns in ALL OF RHODE ISLAND purported to have “good schools.”

Now, we didn’t leave Providence’s East Side and move here because we thought, “Oooooh, I can’t wait to go see Aimee Mann. She always plays Barrington!” Or, “Awesome! I’ve heard that Barrington is a MECCA for vintage clothing shops.” Or, “I can’t wait! Barrington has the BEST vegan bakery with live music on the weekends.” Noooooooooooooo! We knew full well that Grosse Pointe Swank was not going to be COOL. But, that’s not a priority when you have kids.

That said, this town has tried to do some pretty cool things over the last ten years. There was the effort to bring wind power to town. That was pretty cool. Failed. The town banned plastic bags. That was environmentally sound and cool, until the grocery store in town somehow managed to get around the law and introduced these obscenely thick, supposedly reusable plastic bags that you could buy for 10 cents. Half-fail. Oh, wait! The town adopted full-day kindergarten, which was kinda cool, in like – uhhhh – 1984. Hold on … stop the presses: the town built this very cool public park RIGHT ON THE WATER, where ANYONE — from East Providence all the way to Warren — can just sit or enjoy a picnic. I like to think of that cool park as Swankton’s thank you to the people of Rhode Island for supplying us with booze for the last 100+ years. (The town now has 2 liquor stores. Convenient, not cool.)

Listen, I get it. Barrington is about as cool as a turtleneck under a jumpsuit. That’s fine. I wouldn’t expect anything more. We’re here for the schools.

But then — one day — I heard something really cool. I learned that the town’s School Committee had passed a later start time for the high school and middle school, a health recommendation for teens that I’d known about since we lived in Vermont. Yay, Barrington! You did something bold and forward-thinking that has been around for over a decade! Something — dare I say — COOL.

Ruh roh. Hold on. NOT SO FAST, Swankington.

As we all know, one person’s COOL is another person’s fashion no-no. Swanknetka has erupted in a debate SO contentious, that THIS happened at a recent School Committee (SC) meeting:

Male Resident <to SC>: When my opponent makes an unexpected chess move, do you know what I ask myself? What is your next move? WHAT_IS_YOUR_NEXT_MOVE?!

Me <to self>: Ahhhhh! Get me out of here! Mom … Dad … can’t we all just get along?!

Whoops! Sorry. That last part was how I felt when my parents were constantly fighting the year they got divorced. Not sure how that got in there.

Turns out, my version of cool has been delayed for (another) year. That’ll make six full years since the change was first suggested. But, you know what? I learned something VERY important at last night’s School Committee meeting. I learned that the cool, all-day kindergarten change that was implemented a couple of years ago, was started by a lovely woman and her peers when THEIR children were young. Those kids are now 27.

Okay, so 27 minus 6 is 21. WHUH? That means that the later high school/middle school start times will be on track to move TWENTY ONE YEARS FASTER [1] than the all-day kindergarten change. Hats off, Swanknetka!

[1] Not holding my breath.

birth of hte cool

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