We ironed the labels on his shirts, tonight, before dinner. Archer helped me, wrapping his hands around mine as we placed the iron down on the label of his uniform. Our hands wiggling slightly as he counted to ten. "One, two, three, four...." he said and I watched him.
Just like I watched him sit in the barber chair as the nice Russian lady with the thick accent cut two inches off the back of his hair earlier this afternoon.
"Seet up like thees," she said to him and he looked at me.
"Sit up a little bit so she can reach your hair," I said.
So he sat up and covered his eyes with his hands as little wisps of hair fell down his smock, onto his feet, across the linoleum floor like feathers.
After dinner Archer asked to read books in our bed because "it's a special occasion," he said. "It's my last day of summer before school starts. Please?"
So Hal and I kicked off our flip-flops and the four of us got into our bed, the kids in their pajamas, us in jeans with unbuttoned waistbands.
"What story would you like to read tonight?" Hal asked.
Archer shrugged. "You pick."
When Hal returned to the bed moments later, he was clutching my old gifted copy of Oh, the Places You'll Go!
"I thought it apropos," said Hal and I laughed because that rhymed.
"Oh the places you'll go!..." Hal read as I lipped the words. (I know the book almost by heart. It was a gift from a family friend for my High School graduation and I've read it a thousand times over the years.)
"Congratulations!Today is your day.You're off to Great Places!You're off and away!You have brains in your head.You have feet in your shoes.You can steer yourselfany direction you choose..."Out there things can happenand frequently doto people as brainyand footsy as you.And when things start to happen,don't worry. Don't stew.Just go right along.You'll start happening too..."
Before bed Archer picked a pair of new socks to wear, and one of two new pairs of shoes we bought last week for back-to-school: a pair of orange, yellow, green and blue colored Adidas.
And then Hal told him how proud we were of him as I tucked the sheets under his body and pulled the covers up to his chin. "I love you," I said and he squeezed my cheeks with both hands so that my lips puckered like a cartoon fish and then he kissed me.
"Love you, too."
And then in a neat pile I folded his crisp white shirt on top of his navy blue shorts, beside his shoes, socks and backpack freshly labeled. All new, never been worn until tomorrow...
...And turned out the light.