SUMMARY: Minivans never figured into her plans for the future.
DISCLAIMER: The characters in this story do not belong to me and no copyright infringement is intended.
WORD COUNT: 615
FOR: ishie, who requested Stephen's first day of school for the futurefic meme. This was supposed to be 100 words but got a little out of control. It's not quite your prompt, ishie, but I hope you like it all the same.
NOTE: This story is set in the Driving Lessons universe but you don't need to have read any of the others to understand this one.
WARNING: Marriedfic, kidfic, schmoop and gratuitous use of Journey lyrics.
Stephen runs ahead of them, gleefully stomping his yellow rain boots in the puddles. It's the rainiest winter anyone can remember in Southern California. It feels more like Seattle than Pasadena. Penny has to fight an irresistible urge to throw on a plaid flannel shirt, pierce her nose and listen to Nirvana alone in a dark room.
"I liked it. The teachers seemed really nice," Penny says, clutching her umbrella. "I think this is the one."
"I'm not sure. I'm concerned about the lack of hard sciences in the curriculum," Sheldon says. He puts on a rain hat that makes him look like the Gorton's fisherman, which only sets off a craving in Penny for fish sticks with lots of tartar sauce. Early pregnancy is weird.
She pokes him in the ribs. "Sheldon, he's not even three yet. He doesn't need to split atoms in preschool. He needs to learn to share his toys and take a nap on a little mat."
Penny doesn't point out that she's a teacher, that she's actually studied child development and knows what she's talking about. Sheldon will just bring up his two PhDs to try to trump her even though his degrees have absolutely nothing to do with education and brain development in kids. She knows she's right and that's good enough for her.
Sheldon makes a sound in the back of his throat. "That's what you think. Stephen's gifted. His gifts should be appropriately nurtured through a curriculum that emphasizes the full spectrum of science from organic chemistry to physics."
Penny will concede that Stephen is a bright child. He knows all his colors from scarlet to cerulean blue. He can count to one hundred in English and twenty in Spanish. He can sing the entire Glee Season One soundtrack, backwards and forwards. But gifted? She has her doubts. At least, she's pretty sure that Stephen's not freaky Sheldon levels of gifted. And she's actually glad. No one should have to go through life that extravagantly smart. Sheldon should know this better than anyone, but of course he doesn't. That pretty much defines Sheldon right there.
"Rain!" Stephen shouts and lifts his small face to the sky, sticking out his tongue to catch raindrops on it.
"Stephen," Sheldon admonishes, "don't do that. The toxic qualities of—"
Penny pokes Sheldon again. "Knock it off, he'll survive," she mutters under her breath. Sometimes Sheldon acts like Stephen is made of glass—one tiny nudge and he'll shatter into a thousand pieces. Penny grew up on a farm and knows better. She knows how tough kids are.
She pulls out her keys and presses the button to unlock the doors on the car. Back in the day, when Penny imagined her life at thirty, she pictured herself with a starring role on a hit sitcom, a hot Italian model boyfriend named Matteo and a hot Italian car to match the boyfriend. Maybe a red Ferrari. She never thought she'd wind up third-grade teacher married to a skinny, genius physicist. Or that the car would be a gray Toyota Sienna minivan. Minivans never figured into her plans for the future. Nor did being a mother. But here she is, with a two year-old and another one on the way. Huh.
They both stop and watch their son dancing in the rain.
"Some will win, some will lose. Some were born to sing the blues. Oh, the movie never ends. It goes on and on and on and on," Stephen sings to the puddles and the rain clouds.
"He's a marvel," Sheldon says, the awe in his voice usually reserved only to describe the Hadron Collider.
Penny loops her arm through Sheldon's and pulls him close to her. "He is," she says and smiles.