Friday, March 7, 2008


For the past three years we've had the perfect next-door neighbors—a friendly and generous couple, Cath and Nate, and their two adorable twin sons, Jack and Tom, who happen to be the same age as Alice. Our backyards are connected by a gate built by Nate and my husband, Ryan. The kids go back and forth between the yards—running through sprinklers in one, collecting bugs in the other. Once they found a caterpillar and named it Cutie, and once they spent hours splashing around naked in a big plastic tub. While the kids are playing, Cath and I are typically chit-chatting about schools and Ryan and Nate talking about the latest bike gear (they share an obsession with cycling). Usually, we bring out some food, maybe a bottle of wine.

Of course, this backyard bliss doesn't happen every weekend. Only on those Saturdays and Sundays when it's actually sunny and when neither of us have a birthday party, a preschool fund-raiser, or a play date to attend. In fact, in the past three years, we have enjoyed only about 10 of those days. But those days with both of our families sharing our backyards have been some of my fondest memories of where we live.

Tonight, we said goodbye to our neighbors. They're renting a condo in the Presidio so they'll be closer to their jobs and to the boys' school. It's a good move for them but I'll miss them terribly. As we all sat around our big old dining room table noshing on Goat Hill pizza (the last time as next-door neighbors), I was fighting back the tears. Change is hard for me.

It's also hard for Alice. This week, we moved Alice from a swim class at the La Petit Baleen in Half Moon Bay to the location in San Bruno. Alice learned to swim at La Petit in Half Moon Bay; she overcame her fear of the water there. She shed a lot of tears but she created strong bonds with her teacher and the other kids in her class. The transition to the new location with a new teacher and new kids was a complete mess. Alice cried. I cried. The lady at the front desk felt so badly for us that she was practically crying. Alice kept saying, "I want my teacher Terri back! Where's my teacher Terri!" Usually, we're more grounded than this, but it's been a tough week—filled with major drama at my real job, an economy that's imploding, a nerve-racking race between democratic candidates. And I fear it's not going to get much easier.

Over the next few days, we're all going to receive some great big changes in our mailboxes. I'm looking forward to kindergarten and I know that Alice is too. But right now, I'm wishing I could go back to one of those sunny Noe Valley days when our family was relaxed and happy in the backyard with our (former) next-door neighbors.


  1. Thanks for your post, Kate. We just had our final preschool teacher-parent conference today, and it was hard not to tear up -- our child has been at this preschool from 8 am until 6 PM every day for 3 years, and it is hard to imagine her moving on.

    Of course, I remember when we transitioned our daughter from her dayschool to this preschool, and I remember thinking it would be so haorrible - but it was fine! Transitions are often harder on us than they are on the kids. Kids are resilient. We are often less so.

    I am deeply sorry for the loss of your neighbors. In a way it makes me so mad that all of our neighborhood schools are not outstanding schools, and we can't both have the fantastic experience of living in SF _and_ the fantastic experience of having consistently high quality neighborhood schools. We all know the numerous reasons why this is currently the case, however.

    I do have one question, though: how is it that your neighbors know where the boys will be attending kindergarten? Is it parochial? I didn't realize that any schools have already notified, so I'm curious!

    I hope that you find another wonderful family to move in next door. Maybe you can spread the word about the rental opportunity on the local parents' lists, etc. to help find someone -- maybe even someone from Alice's future school!

    (BTW, I did just notice that Alice's name is the same as your first choice school - was that intentional?)

  2. Yes, Alice is named after Alice Fong Yu. When I first started the blog I used Alice's true name and then switched to the pseudonym. And the K in K Files stands for both kindergarten and Kate.

  3. So, what school are your neighbors going to attend? :)