Fan Fiction - Written by Paul Austin - Sam Series

09 * Full House: The Next Generation
Written by: Paul Austin

Author's note: By popular request, a post-series story, w/Sam's youngest going into Kindergarten. Also, at the time of this writing, Sam Series #2-5 had been redone, and #4 had a complete makeover; now, the entire series has had quite a bit of redoing in the last few years.

The design of Fraser Street Elementary comes from the established fact of different playgrounds in the TV series (Steph graduates to a new playground "with no monkey bars" in 4th grade) and the books (One of Michelle's main campaign promises is to get the 4th graders access to the 5th grade playground, which as class President she apparently does.) The older kids' playground seems to just lack a sandbox, monkey bars, other "little kid stuff." Although kickball could be played on the lower grade playground - inspiring a piece of Fraser St. lore from one of the "Dear Michelle" books to be included.

"...Okay, great! I'll tell her." Michelle Farrington put down the phone, smiling the same warm, happy smile that reminded so many of her late mother.

Michelle strode into the living room of the residence she and her family shared with her dad, Danny Tanner. "July, guess what?"

The nearly thirteen-year-old girl looked up from a puzzle she was putting together with a couple of Michelle's babysitting charges. "What?"

"You know that family I told you about, the Spencers? Well, they talked to your mom, and they'd like you to babysit for them Friday evening."

"Oh, boy, thanks, Miss Michelle!" July jumped up and gave Michelle a big hug. "I can't believe it; my first babysitting job."

"You should be able to handle it, the kid is seven. And, I've put you through a lot in the last few years with even younger kids."

"Yeah. I'm really thankful," she said shyly. "I know I can get kind of lazy sometimes like my mom. But, you've always pushed me to do my best. And, I'm really glad."

"Your mom can get kind of lazy, yeah. She used to copy off my sister D.J.'s homework all the time. She even wrote D.J.'s name as she started to copy one paper, she was so intent on making it exactly like hers," Michelle said with a giggle. Kimmy Gibbler, D.J.'s best friend, had utilized Michele's "House Full Of Love" home daycare since July was two. Kimmy not only could be lazy, she could also be quite weird at times - hence the odd name she'd given her daughter, who was born in October. "But, she's still pretty good."

"I know. Mom says she learned everything she knows from D.J. about how to handle kids, since D.J. was kind of like a mom to you when you were little, after your mom died. Then she says since you learned everything from her, too, it's just easier for you to handle me," July noted.

Michelle laughed. "Yeah, right. At least your mom found she had a learning disorder after high school, and ended up getting a little better. Your parents tried to read and study how to handle wilder kids at times. But, you're right, as much as D.J. tried to encourage them, they were always just a little lazy. But, at least they had consistent rules, even if at times they were lax in enforcing them. That's one thing you'll have to remember when you babysit, make sure you try to do things just like the parents do with bedtime routines, and so on."

"I know. You know, Miss Michelle," she said, searching for words. July had started out like Kimmy, and at times was wilder than Michelle, D.J, or middle sister Stephanie could ever have been. July was then more like Michelle's Uncle Jesse had been in his rebellious youth. But, by this time, she was as sweet, kind, and gentle as Michelle.

Finally deciding what she wanted to say, July told Michelle, "I know a lot of kids who would love to just hang out at home all the time, and not have the responsibilities you give me, at my age. But, I love coming over and helping you. That one time I'd been doing so many bad things you basically put me on a work detail over here," she said with a laugh, blushing slightly. "But, before then, and especially after that was over, I realized I love it here. I enjoy working with you. I feel like I've really accomplished stuff. Like when I taught Brandon how to tell time last fall."

"I know. I've always known you could really accomplish a lot, if you put your mind to it."

"Yeah. Thanks for always believing in me. You're so loving, so gentle, you're everything I want to be," July said with great sincerity.

Michelle nearly blushed. She'd already been helping one person, named Samantha, since almost before she could remember. It reminded her of a saying she'd heard that her late mother used a lot - "Give away a smile, it's free." What she'd done really wasn't much to her - it was just showing the love the Tanner family had always shown. It was incredible how much that could mean to someone.

After the two embraced, Michelle kidded July. "You don't have to always call me Miss Michelle, you know."

"I like to, though. You'll always be Miss Michelle to me."

"Well, I'm glad I have that kind of impact. I've sure been doing it for Samantha a long time."

July said she'd been reading one of Samantha's books to another of Michelle's charges. "It's so neat, you know someone who writes their own childrens' books. She and her husband, Colin, really do a good job with it."

"Someday, you're going to be just as successful," Michelle said, putting an arm around her. "Just remember to let your mom feel part of it, too. After all, she and Duane, your dad, have done a pretty good job, considering their handicaps." Michelle was amazed, at times, that Duane ever said anything but "whatever" when out in public.

July supposed Michelle was right. It was tough for her sometimes, because she really looked up to Michelle a lot. She'd never heard the complete story, but she had heard that Samantha's parents hadn't had any time for her or paid any attention to her at all. It seemed weird. But, July decided Kimmy was likely still way better than that.

The next evening, the doorbell rang. "Hey, Kimmy!" Michelle said as she opened the door.

"Hey, what's up? Say, do you have the address for the couple July's supposed to babysit for Friday? I lost it."

As Kimmy walked into the room, Michelle's husband Jeff repeated her exact words from the couch. "Well, you said to say it," he explained as Michelle giggled but gave a tired look at the same time.

"That joke is so old," Michelle said as she shuffled through a small desk for a pen that actually wrote. "Here we go. Where are you going this late in the evening?"

"Oh, Duane and I just had a little date type thing like D.J. and Steve have all the time. Although, I don't suppose they ever go to watch people have paintball wars or wrestle in jello."

"No, your tastes are a lot more unique than theirs," Michelle said.

"True. I doubt D.J.'s really looking forward to the Virtual Reality entertainment club to open that's been rumored for a while. That stuff is getting inexpensive enough it could happen soon. Who knows, maybe people will be able to buy them for their own homes," Kimmy speculated. "Not that Duane doesn't already fantasize enough, with all the time he spends watching sports. Anyway, I figured you'd still have the address. I've sent a few clients your way in the last ten years or so, so it figures you'd still have the one you gave July."

"Yeah, thanks. I really appreciate it," Michelle said as she handed the slip of paper to Kimmy. Kimmy worked in a beauty salon, which was where she'd heard about a number of women seeking a good home daycare.

"You know, Michelle...." Kimmy paused to consider how to express her feelings - that she appreciated Michelle, too, far more than Michelle probably appreciated what Kimmy had done in recommending her. "I'm not the world's smartest parent."

"I think you've done a pretty good job with July; even with that unusual name you gave her," Michelle said diplomatically. In reality, Kimmy had always been quite odd. There was only so much Kimmy could do to overcome her difficulties even after part of the cause was found, because of her upbringing.

"No, I mean it, Michelle. When your mom died, D.J. had to do a lot of discipline and stuff when you were little because your dad wasn't willing to. And, while I tried to copy off of her in how I raised July, July's personality was just so different than yours. A lot more mischief came from her. So, I could only copy off of D.J. so much. And, my mom's idea of tough punishment was making me smell her feet. When that stopped working, a couple times she'd even ground me over at your place."

"I remember hearing about that," Michelle said.

"I really had no clue how to deal with little kids when they got too wild; I remember letting your cousins, Nicky and Alex, fingerpaint all over everything when I was watching them. Till July was two, it was fairly easy staying at home with her, but then...well, I'm really grateful you've been around to be a daycare provider for me. First with D.J.'s friendship, now with you these last ten years, your family's meant a lot to me."

"Hey," Duane said as he poked his head in the door, "you coming back out soon?"

"Why don't you poke around all the flowers; our daughter probably had to plant most of the perennials as punishment when she was younger," Kimmy suggested.

"Okay, whatever," Duane said as he shut the door.

Michelle grinned warmly. "You and Duane were both born with some challenges. But, I think you've been great parents. You always supported me when I had to get tough with July, you showed her love, and you were always there for her in whatever ways you could be. And, that's a lot," she concluded. "Sure better than Samantha's parents ever were."

"True." Stephanie had met Samantha when she was in Kindergarten and Stephanie was a Principal's Assistant in fifth grade. Since that time, Stephanie had become the mother the neglected Samantha had never had; and the father, for that matter. Samantha's parents had been way too busy with work to ever pay attention to Samantha. And, while Stephanie was like a mother, Michelle was like a big sister to her.

Kimmy continued by remarking, "Her little girl's starting Kindergarten tomorrow, isn't she?"

"Yep. She won't be five for a couple weeks, but they decided she'll be okay in the half-day Kindergarten class. Our youngest, Jeffrey, will still be there, in second grade, for her. And, of course, they still have the PA position, those girls really do a great job of helping the youngsters. I checked, and so did Mandy, who's still a teacher there." Mandy was one of Michelle's friends from school . "Steph's daughter, Pamela, is going into that position, and she's really great."

"Cool. Who knows, maybe little Michelle will be a PA herself someday."

Michelle's eyes grew wide - she hadn't thought of that possibility. "That would be interesting."

"Yep, I just hope it doesn't bring back too many bad memories if 'Chelle has a really wild kid to deal with," Kimmy mused out loud. "I mean, of course, Samantha's problems were from not having any attention at all from her parents, like you said, and trying to fend for herself with all that hurt and anger in her. But, just thinking about some of those wild kids would probably be hard for Samantha," Kimmy said tenderly. "I remember how upset you and Stephanie were when July kept disobeying Samantha when she was babysitting back when she was 5 and a half or so; she even locked her out of the house then, when July wouldn't go to timeout. Of course, she forgot Samantha could still call you on her cell phone, and Stephanie had a key to let her back into her house."

Michelle rolled her eyes. Kimmy was still a little lazy as an adult when it came to thinking, and the time she mentioned was no exception. As had happened a couple other times, she'd figured D.J. would be available one weekend. When she wasn't, Kimmy had left July with Michelle. Of course, she paid good, but Michelle had also had plans for a couple hours that Saturday, and it was a hassle just getting baby Jeffy ready at just a few weeks old. Samantha had insisted she wanted to try to watch the still very ornery July. They had told Kimmy before just how bad things had been for Samantha. But, July had tested lots of rules and gone way too far later when just Michelle watched her, thanks to Kimmy's inconsistency.

Samantha still didn't like to think about extremely rebellious kids because of her childhood, and Michelle knew this. "Please, Kimmy, I haven't even begun to think of how we'll mention the possibility of 'Chelle being a PA to her."

Michelle and the others had never really let Kimmy in on the full details of Samantha's situation or her emotional problems until that time seven years ago. However, part of that had been because of Kimmy's notorious lack of common sense when it came to knowing what to say at times; when Danny was feeling quite down about breaking up with his fiance, Vicki, once Kimmy had just started playing the Tanners' piano and singing "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do" in front of him. Even now that Kimmy knew, her idle speculation was making Michelle a little concerned.

"Sorry. I guess that isn't something you'd want to think about, let alone her, having to hear about 'Chelle's day dealing with some of the really bad kids. I guess I do sound a little uncaring, even though I don't mean to. Like when July stole from a few kids and shoplifted once a few years ago, then when Duane and I, and even you, got suspicious she told us she was a hurdy gurdy entertainer after school. I said I was sure it was true, and was even ready to buy her an accordion. Then, she was already grounded for something else, and D.J. and you looked into things. We all realized it required some really drastic action, and I said if she really needed spanked I wanted you to handle it. When she told me you'd spanked her, I joked that you'd made rump roast. Even though both of us knew you're the kindest, most gentle person around. She couldn't believe how mild and loving you'd been with her, considering how badly she'd behaved."

Michelle agreed grimly. She wished she hadn't had to do it - she'd gone into the lecture that time hoping to avoid it. But, July's rudeness and attitude of only being sorry she got caught - she was remorseful, but could run her mouth without thinking quite well - had made Michelle decide it was needed.

Still, she said, "Even giving what counted as fwaps to a girl that age made me teary when I did it then, even thought it really just hurt her feelings." Michelle paused to reminisce a second. "That was your downfall when you couldn't copy D.J., Kimmy. When July was too out of control. With just day to day stuff you could handle it. But, she didn't listen to you as well at times because you always made these weird threats that you would never carry out, like when you threatened to enroll her in the French Foreign Legion.

"Even when she was four, five years old, though, I could tell she was becoming sensitive enough she knew she was in big trouble with me." She chose to ignore the short time July's sensitivity had been overridden by her desire to get away with everything for a while at that age. Even then, Michelle had put a stop to it without being too much tougher, thanks to her sisters' help, so by now July didn't think of the time she rebelled against Michelle most, and she and Michelle cried together afterward, any differently than the few other times she got light fwaps; the message was now ingrained not to take so much advantage of others. "It's just she tried to get around the rules instead of listening to me a couple times, and went way too far, till I didn't feel I had a choice."

Michelle was too polite to mention how Kimmy and Duane were not bright enough to see through some of July's schemes - though Michelle always seemed to sense something was wrong at those times. She wished Kimmy and Duane wouldn't have just told her to discipline, but would have done it consistently themselves. But, all in all, things had worked out well.

"You've really helped mold a wonderful young lady, Michelle. You and D.J., even Steph some, though she's had her own litter of kids to handle. I can't thank you enough."

"Thanks, Kimmy." Michelle was extremely happy that Kimmy was willing to open up and thank her at times like this. She had seemed quite weird and not as sensitive when younger. But, as she recollected, D.J. had said there were a couple times when she would open up even then and tell D.J. how much her friendship meant to her. "July's a pretty good girl now; she would never do the stuff she did when she was younger. But, you've been part of that, too. You've done lots of things right."

Kimmy wasn't sure if that was true, but accepted the compliment. "You're right, Michelle; she's become pretty much like you and your sisters. I know you never wanted to spank; it had never been done in your family. And, you wouldn't with anyone else's kids. I always knew I could count on you to be tender and loving, though. I guess having to deal with Samantha helped you learn real fast how to deal with all types of kids, huh?"

"Right. We've really had some interesting experiences." Michelle noticed Duane at the door holding a rose from one her own rosebushes. "I think you'd better go, Kimmy, before Duane decides to go picking even more flowers for you."

Rebecca Donaldson Katsopolis, Jesse's wife, stopped by one of her twin sons' places on her way home from the stables. "Hey, Alex, what's up?"

"Hi, mom, come on in. We just got the baby down for the night; Tricia's upstairs cleaning up."

"Too bad. I don't have a whole lot of time to be a grandmother, with all the work I have at the stables. It'd be nice to stop by more often when my first grandchild's awake," Becky joked.

"Yeah, I know how it is. Nicky and I sure have some busy jobs at the zoo." Though Nicholas, his twin brother, went by his full name, Alex still called him Nicky. "We've got quite a few field trips planned just for the first few weeks with different school classes coming in."

"I'm sure you do. Business will slow down some for me now that summer's gone, but there will still be some kids getting riding lessons and the like."

Tricia came downstairs and said hello as Alex noted that, "The schools seem to have a lot more control of the kids than the later years when we were there. It's a lot of fun having the classes come around.

"I know, they tried to take all the power away from the teachers, the Principal's Assistant, everyone, just after the turn of the century. Thankfully, after a few years, they realized they needed to start getting tough again on the bad kids."

"Probably just part of the mini-revival they had back then, starting to discipline more willingly and more often," Tricia said.

"Yeah, you're right. Although there's still something of a cultural divide in this country. And, I wonder if spanking would even be allowed at Fraser St. Elementary if it wasn't in the hands of a very mature girl like in Australia instead of an adult, given how liberal our city is sometimes."

"I wonder if they'd have even allowed it back when Mandy was the one," Becky remarked. "I guess they would have, but it seems like when Steph started that position, they were thankful to get any discipline out of adults' hands, in a way. Till even that position became nothing more than a glorified peer mediator for about three, four years."

"Yeah. Pamela's not looking forward to having to discipline, but she'll be able to help a lot of kids in other ways, too. And, she'll be just like Stephanie in that way," Tricia offered.

Alex agreed, and put an arm around her. "Yeah, she's carrying on a great tradition. I just hope she's not too anxious. It's going to be hard to follow in Steph's footsteps. "

Pamela Anne Taylor checked her matching ponytails and grabbed her backpack the next morning. Placing her arms inside the straps, she grinned proudly, but with a little tension in her eyes.

"Hey, honey, all ready for your first day of fifth grade!" Stephanie asked excitedly as she burst into the bedroom.

"Yep." Pamela hugged her mom, and as they embraced, she remarked, "Uncle Jeff says the folks at school will have a feeling of déjà vu all over again."

Stephanie beamed. "My little girl's going to be Principal's Assistant just like me; the first ever mother-daughter combination. And, yes, you might even wind up helping a little girl named Michelle feel more comfortable in Kindergarten, just like I helped your Aunt Michelle."

"Aunt Samantha said she told her girl to come see me about anything."

"Yeah, at least your Aunt Michelle had me as an older sister there. Samantha's a little concerned about 'Chelle going to Kindergarten. But, she'll be in the half-day program, not the full day. So, it might seem a little less daunting, too, than it did for Michelle," Stephanie said as they walked downstairs, her arm around Pamela's shoulders.

Stephanie looked at Pamela at the front door and grinned broadly. She was such a wonderful, caring girl. Pamela had been the kind who got carried away quite a bit when younger, especially in bossing her younger siblings around. Having five of them, counting Stephanie's baby, especially made her that way. But by age seven, except for a couple times when Stephanie had had to ground her, she was a very good girl. And, her bossiness had been turned into real leadership ability, leadership which allowed her to carry on the great tradition Stephanie had begun as PA at Fraser St. Elementary.

"I know what you're going to say, Mom. It's what you always say about how you handle so many kids. 'Remember, you don't divide your love; you multiply it.'"

"That's one of a number of sayings I was considering for your first day," she said, beaming proudly as her other school-aged kids walked to the front door. "You're going to make me so proud, no matter what. I know it's hard to follow in my footsteps, but just remember, you only have to be the best Pamela Taylor you can be."

Stephanie hugged each and bade them goodbye; her husband was already at work. While her husband was no relation to her best friend Allie, whose maiden name was Taylor - it was a very common name, after all - she couldn't help but note a little irony. Allie Taylor had been a great confidant for her while she was PA, but had been very shy and so not exactly the type to be a good PA; although by eighth grade Allie had matured into a good class president.

Pamela was joined by her best friend, Mildred, as they walked toward the school. "Hey, Millie," Pamela exclaimed.

"Hey, you look like you've already got some stuff to ask my advice on. I thought that was only supposed to happen once we got to school."

Pamela chuckled. "Yeah. I just don't have my mom's gift of gab; I don't know if I should think about a long speech when we have our assembly this afternoon or not."

"Pam, I've heard your mom talk. You don't want to talk as long as she could. We'll need to get home for supper."

"True. I guess the one last year didn't have a long speech when she was installed; I don't know, maybe she did, it's hard to remember."

"Didn't Lincoln say, 'The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here?' Or, to put it in modern terms, if you would say something, probably nobody would remember it."

"True. Not only that," Pamela said, stopping with some other children to watch for cars, "but if I would say a lot, we could never equal his accomplishment, which my dad calls one of the great ironies of history."

They reached the other side, and Mildred asked, "What's that?"

"That in fourth grade, students all memorize something that the speaker said wouldn't be remembered." The girls shared a hearty laugh.

Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, and some other pieces of American history, hadn't been remembered by many people around the turn of the century, as the Founding Fathers, Lincoln, and others weren't as revered as in bygone days. But, by 2020, a minor revival of old things had taken place, especially in certain pockets of the country.

Mildred hadn't been named just because her parents wanted an unusual name. That had been happening for a while; scattered about even in 2000 there had been a few Agathas, Violas, and so on who received names of 100 years earlier. Instead, a generation of children who had grown up with few values being taught, and with increasingly broken homes, vulgarity, and uncaring lifestyles seen in adults, had tried to hearken back to simpler times. They tried as best they could to copy some of the norms and values of 1900 - and, at times, some of the names.

One of those 1900-era things was that - while prayer hadn't been brought back into schools - many schools did have some sort of Bible Club that was recognized on a par with other extra-curricular activities. Mildred led the after school Bible study; while teachers and staff weren't allowed to lead, Sunday School teachers and such could be brought in from the outside by invitation of the club as speakers. This had been confirmed by the Supreme Court in a freedom of speech and assembly case about a dozen years earlier.

Mildred told Pamela that she was still invited to help with the Bible club. But, "I don't know what they say about the PA leading anything. That one case talked about how students don't lose their rights at the schoolhouse gates, but you're kind of in leadership now."

"Well, technically, I'm not staff because I'm not paid. But, you do such a god job anyway, and it's easier if I don't get involved directly with running it. Besides, I might be helping with some kids even after school, I don't know. Oh, speaking of helping, let's wait here near the entrance. Mom said to watch for Samantha and her girl."

'Chelle looked at herself proudly in the bathroom's full-length mirror that morning. Preschool - which she'd been in last year - had been fun, but little more than a playgroup. But, this morning she was going to Kindergarten!

"Well, aren't you a thing of beauty!" Colin declared as he observed her. "You're going to break a lot of boys' hearts when you find the right one."

"Silly Daddy, I'm gonna marry you!"

Colin picked her up and cuddled her. "I told you sweetie, I've already got the best girl in the world. But, someday, some boy's going to consider you the best girl in the world."

"Okay, but first I need a car," 'Chelle said with such seriousness it was funny.

Colin laughed out loud as he put her on the ground again and she ran in to see Samantha, for her to do her hair. 'Chelle wanted to look her best - her parents had talked this up with lots of excitement.

"Mommy, it's my turn," 'Chelle insisted. The four-year-old stared impatiently at her younger brother, who was getting his diaper changed.

"Just hold your horses," Samantha said calmly. The four-year-old was rather insistent at times, but tried to wait a little while.

"Mommy, you are getting really fat!"

"That's because of the baby sister you've got coming. She has to grow inside me till next year." Samantha was due in January.

"Are you sure Santa can't bring her early?"

"Yes, I'm sure. All right, all done!" Samantha let the boy down, picked 'Chelle up, and sat down in a chair to begin braiding her hair. "Are you all ready for Kindergarten today? You're going to the same school Mommy went to."

"Did you make lots of friends there?"

Samantha gave her stock answer, unwilling to have to explain all the problems that went on then. "That's when Mommy met her friend Courtney," she said truthfully, though that hadn't been for a few months, since they were in different classes; indeed, they only really talked at Samantha's first Honeybee club meeting in December.

After breakfast, Samantha and Colin prepared to walk 'Chelle to Kindergarten. Colin put 'Chelle's younger brother, Joey, who was not quite two, in his stroller, and began pushing.

'Chelle, of course, insisted on pushing part of the way. As she began to run fast, Samantha caught up to her before she reached the end of the block. "Honey, I'm already sending one baby off to school, please let your brother stay home with us," she said, half joking and half pleading.

Samantha pushed the stroller, with 'Chelle keeping her hands on the stroller while walking in front of Samantha in her beautiful white dress with sunflowers on it. Colin walked beside them as they crossed several streets and walked up to the school.

"This will be Principal Posey's last year. After 30 years as principal, those halls just won't seem the same without him," Samantha remarked absently.

"Yeah, but after the major renovation a couple years ago, they're not the same halls," Colin noted.

"That's true." She pointed out to Joey and 'Chelle some of the things along the way - a couple dogs, some fancy colored houses, and so on. "It's so great to be able to do this together."

Fraser Street had a main entrance that many kids went through, that required one to walk though the playground used by Kindergarten through third grade students. It was s secondary entrance to that playground, which entered directly into a Kindergarten classroom, that Stephanie had used her first day.

Often bigger kids entered through a secondary entrance on the other side of the building, without the large fence surrounding it. They used a different playground for recess, toward the back, in the same part of the building as their classrooms. The older kids' playground had no monkey bars or sandbox, and while kickball and such could be played on the smaller kids' playground, the bigger kids could also play dodge ball or other more physical games.

A third entrance was used by staff and by some children, though usually children only entered through it when parents were taking them. Pamela remembered hearing that her mom had entered through the playground her first day, while Danny had taken Michelle through the parking lot entrance, as Michelle had had a different classroom

The bigger kids' entrance was watched more closely by the staff. Pamela - as she thought about it - considered that it might be nice to enter through the smaller kids' entrance for at least her first week or two. The Kindergarten kids could get used to her, then. She recalled from her mother that Stephanie had come in this way a fair amount when she was PA. Not only that, but she might get to help bigger kids, too. Her aunt D.J. had told her about trying to leave out that way, where she thought nobody would notice, her first day of fifth grade because she was upset at being placed in the "smart kids' class" and away from Kimmy. Her exceptional class at that point had been down the hall from Stephanie's class, and she'd walked out and tried to climb into the clump of trees behind one part of the fence.

"That guy who kicks for the 49ers; he went to this school," Pamela overheard one boy say.

"No way!" his friend said.

"Yep. In fact, he kicked the farthest ball ever kicked on this playground. He broke Principal Posey's window in third grade!"

"No way, nobody our age could kick a ball that far!"

Pamela smiled at the exchange. It had been thought that the principal's window was safe from any balls from either playground. But, that boy had cleared the fence and broken the window. Now, however, the playground was redesigned, and the kickball area was moved further back - just in case.

One part of the building not redesigned was the layout just inside the younger kids' playground. As Pamela greeted 'Chelle and the others, who had come to the smaller kids' entrance, Samantha glanced inside. It looked so similar to when she'd first come to Fraser Street Elementary. The same Kindergarten room she'd been in, in fact, was the one Pamela was directing 'Chelle to. She heaved a deep sigh as they turned the corner in the building and looked at the room.

"Something wrong, hon?"

"Oh, Colin, it's just...'Chelle has the same room I did." She put on a brave smile as she noticed her happy daughter jogging into the room. "It just seems so surreal."

"I'm sure it does," Colin remarked. He and Samantha walked toward the classroom. Joey got out of the stroller, but Mildred caught him and got him interested in some blocks in the Kindergarten room, so they didn't worry about him.

'Chelle came running back out of the room at that moment. "Mommy, Daddy, look at all this! This is my school! This is my classroom!"

"Yes, honey, it is." Maybe the parting won't be too tough after all, Samantha told herself.

No such luck. In the next breath, once the little girl had gotten over her excitement, she asked, "Can you stay here with me?"

"Sorry, honey, we can't spend the whole morning with you. But, Daddy or I will always be here to pick you up for lunch."

Pamela knelt down to 'Chelle's level. "It's a pretty big place, huh?"

"It's as big as Disneyland!"

"It seems that way, I know. But, you're going to have lots of fun. Why don't we go see your teacher." Pamela walked over with 'Chelle to where the teacher was standing, talking to a mother and her little boy. Samantha and Colin held hands and followed, with Colin pushing the stroller with one hand and holding Samantha's with the other.

After several minutes, 'Chelle was starting to get used to Samantha and Colin not being there. Now, she tried to bargain with them. "Maybe Joey can stay here."

"Honey, Joey needs to come home with us," Samantha said.

"Millie's having fun with him."

Colin picked 'Chelle up. "Sweetheart, Millie and Pamela have to get to their class."

"But I'll be right down the hall if you need me, in room 7. I'll be easy to find; I think I'm the only blonde girl in that classroom," Pamela quipped.

'Chelle looked at Pamela, then back at her parents. She supposed she didn't have much choice. However, Samantha wasn't making it any easier; 'Chelle could tell she was tearing up a little.

"I love you, sweetheart," Samantha said as she took 'Chelle and cuddled her. Now, at least, her memories of coming here weren't present; all she was thinking about was leaving her little girl at school.

"I love you too, Mommy."

Samantha waved goodbye as they backed out the door, with Joey now back in the stroller. As she turned around finally, she told Colin, "I can't help but think of something Kimmy said last week. She told me to think about the fact I've still got some babies at home. Does this mean sending my last to Kindergarten will be even harder?"

"Let's not worry about that, honey. We've got plenty of time to plan that out."

"Okay." Samantha heaved a deep sigh. "But, maybe we better see if I can sub in Mandy's class a little." It sounded like a joke, but Colin knew it was best to assume there was a hint of seriousness in her comment.

As often happened, once 'Chelle was distracted enough, she began curiously talking with her friends, a couple of whom had gone to preschool with her, and playing. Finally, the group sat around in a circle for their first story time. The students stood in order and introduced themselves.

'Chelle stood up in her class and proudly announced, "My name is Michelle Courtney Douglass. My mommy went here. My aunt went here, too. That's who I'm named after." She looked around and grinned proudly, so excited that she was now in school.

Samantha walked into the auditorium for the assembly that afternoon, and sat next to Stephanie. Colin was watching 'Chelle and Joey; Samantha had wanted to come and see Pamela's official installation ceremony.

"It's exciting, huh?" Stephanie whispered as the students buzzed with excitement.

"Yeah. 'Chelle seemed to do pretty well her first day. I think she likes it."

"Great." She hadn't had a chance to see Pamela and ask how her day had gone, so Stephanie just started to ramble. "The PA has a tough job. But, back when Missy was PA, her mom had gotten remarried the previous year after a divorce, and her step dad adopted her while she was PA. In fact, Mandy had also been through a divorce when she was little, although her name changed even before she came out to San Francisco. It's a shame so many kids lived through divorce back then; it's still a problem, of course, but at least more are committed to staying together - or better yet, not marrying or having kids to begin with till they marry. Kids go through a lot sometimes. And, it's the help around them that really helps the PA get through the tough cases," she finished.

"You're probably right. I just wonder if Pamela can help the parents, too. It felt really eerie today; Samantha has the same room I had in Kindergarten."

"I know the one, yeah. Michelle was in it, too; I still remember walking her back there when she came to my classroom to see me. It was so great to be able to help her; little did I know I'd be helping kids full time soon. And to have a daughter that can do it, that's really something."

Samantha remarked, "I'm just glad we don't have to think about 'Chelle having to be one."

"That would be tough, huh?" Stephanie thought for a second; would Samantha remember her mentioning Charles a while back? She didn't think so. "I don't know if you recall me telling about the first time I encountered an abuse problem, with that boy named Charles?"

"Yeah, kind of," Samantha hedged.

"Charles ended up a lot better once everyone got help. Charles and his wife have a boy who comes here, and another child is on the way. I'm sure it was kind of tough for him, too, even though he's so different now, so nice, nothing like...well, you know, how he was when I found out about him." Charles had had a pretty bad attitude, though not as bad as Sam's had been in Kindergarten. In a way, Charles tried hard to stay away from any thoughts of his former problems, too.

"Yeah, but at least he remembers he could confide in you. And, you helped him," Samantha noted.

"That's true. And, I guess it is a little different simply having a little girl go here than it would be having her telling you all sorts of stuff," Stephanie said. She wanted to encouraged Samantha that it wasn't likely to happen for 'Chelle to be a PA. After what Michelle had mentioned, she knew the possibility would be very tough for her to comprehend. At least Samantha wasn't worried about it.

That would soon change, however.

Friday at lunch time, Samantha drove down to pick up 'Chelle after Kindergarten. She planned a little one on one time with each of their kids, and especially with her in Kindergarten, this was a great time to have it. 'Chelle hadn't been too tired after school, though she might lay down and read for half an hour, and maybe doze a little, when she got home. So, Samantha figured they could share a nice, quiet lunch together and talk about the day. It being over half a dozen blocks away, and with 'Chelle not yet five, riding was deemed easier than walking. While high gas prices and the desire for more time together had led more and more people to walk many places, 'Chelle was still quite young, and Samantha tended to coddle her quite a bit.

As 'Chelle sat snugly in her carseat, and they discussed her coming birthday on the way to Anthony's Pizza - she wanted the theme to be the latest Disney blockbuster - the subject turned to the events in Kindergarten that morning.

After a long story about recess, and how she'd gotten help from Pamela in a dispute with a friend, 'Chelle began talking as if Pamela was Wonder Woman. Her first hero, Samantha thought to herself, chuckling lightly.

Samantha was quite unprepared for the next comment. "I'm gonna be a PA just like Pamela," 'Chelle spouted as she got out of the car.

Samantha paused for a second, unsure of what to say. She simply followed her little girl to the door of Anthony's. This wasn't just someone who wanted to pretend to be Wonder Woman. This was a real, attainable goal 'Chelle had in mind. And, as much as she knew anything could change in five to six years, Samantha recognized that the way 'Chelle talked, she might very well achieve that goal.

And then? She'd be telling Samantha and Colin about all the kids she helped, including really wild kids, or kids with huge problems. All Samantha's fears and bad memories might come rushing back to her.

'Chelle, luckily, heard the song playing lowly in the restaurant and thought of something else. "That's your and Daddy's song, isn't it?" she asked.

"Yeah, it is." She began to sing lowly. "'...and I'll be missing you. You know it's you babe, whenever I get weary and I've had enough, feel like giving up...'" she intoned.

"You sing so pretty, Mommy."

"Thanks." They walked up to the counter and ordered the buffet, then Samantha continued as they carried trays to where different types of pizza were situated. "Whenever your Daddy would leave for spring training, or on the road with the ball team, we'd dance real slow together, even back when we were in college. And, he always requested 'Babe' on the radio for me. There's another little irony he noted in his book - he loved to request the song 'Babe,' yet he never would have believed it would be by Styx and have nothing to do with Babe Ruth."

"He doesn't have to miss you any more 'cause he doesn't play any more, right?"

"You're right. But, sometimes I still think about it; that song just reminds me of how much I love Daddy, and how I'd feel when he'd have to leave for a long time."

That was somewhat true, of course, and a great excuse for her sad look at that moment. She'd often told 'Chelle about how hard it was when Colin would leave, and how she got through it. Especially how having 'Chelle around had helped her once she was born.

However, her main concern now was how to handle this sudden desire on 'Chelle's part to be a PA someday. She didn't even know how Stephanie had done it; she didn't like to hear about some of the things other really mischievous kids had done. And, she certainly couldn't stand the thought of having to help her daughter figure out how to deal with that, since that would simply bring back a torrent of troublesome thoughts from when she was little. Even if she knew she was helping someone, Samantha would start to think of what that child's past had been like and all the heartache, and so on.

And yet, she wanted 'Chelle to believe she could do anything. She wanted her to know the sky was the limit; she didn't want anything holding her back from her dreams, after how down she'd felt herself when younger.

What was she going to do?

Pamela bounded into her house and received a warm greeting from Stephanie. "Guess what," she said immediately, the familiar, excited ramble of Stephanie in her childhood coming through quite noticeably. "Samantha's little girl says she wants to be just like me. It's so neat to be someone's hero. I bet I'll inspire lots of kids before I'm done, just like you say to, huh, Mom?"

"You sure will, sweetheart." Inside, Stephanie knew now why Samantha had called and left a message on her answering machine - she hadn't had time to call her back since getting home from the dentist and shopping.

As the other school-age kids piled into the house and received tender embraces, Pamela continued. "I remember there was a sister combination maybe two or three years apart once, I was there when the younger one was in office."

"Right. And, it's a lot like how I inspired Samantha so much when I was PA."

"Yeah, you said she's still kind of nervous and worried sometimes. You must have really helped her a lot to feel comfortable."

"Yeah, I did," Stephanie remarked, lost in thought. She'd never told her kids the full extent of Samantha's problems, as she wanted to keep it private; she'd just emphasized in general how important it was to check the backgrounds of the wilder kids, the loners, and so on. Over the next few weeks, as she and Pamela discussed things, Stephanie would go into detail with her, just in case Pamela ran across a similar problem. But, now wasn't the time to explain all the sadness, hurt, and so on Samantha had felt to Pamela.

So, once she ensured everyone had had something to fill their stomachs till dinner, and that her kids were happily playing, she simply remarked she'd be on the phone with Samantha a while, then went into her room to return the call.

"Hey, Samantha, how's it going?" Stephanie asked once Samantha picked up the phone.

"Not bad, I guess."

"Pamela told me what 'Chelle said. I figured that's probably why you called."

Samantha had been folding clothes. Now, she simply plopped on the bed and laid down. "Yeah, can you believe it? Why can't she decide she wants to be a policeman or a fireman or a doctor or something."

"Well," Stephanie began, searching for things to say, "I suppose those would be good occupations, but it seems like the first two are a bit on the risky side."

"Yeah. I guess I am pretty protective. So, police and fire are out," Samantha agreed. She insisted that they would still be better than the PA position, though.

"It's a difficult thing to think about, huh?"

"I'd really like to know how I can stop her; I want to make sure she's never going to be a PA."

"Samantha, sweetheart, I know it's really a tough thing to ponder," Stephanie said very tenderly. "But, you shouldn't control her life like that. Number one, she might be more likely to rebel and do it anyway. And, second, she's just like a baby bird. And, your job is to give her wings so she can fly."

"I know. I just don't want her flying certain places."

Stephanie agreed that it would be hard. "But, you wouldn't be the only person helping, even if 'Chelle did become a PA. And, while you can certainly encourage her in other ways, you can't just tell her the job's no good."

"I could never do that. For one thing, your own daughter's the PA. To me, I told her, it's just like you were there."

Stephanie chuckled. As much as she tried to keep Pamela from worrying about living up to the "legend" Stephanie seemed to be to some, there would always be some who would see Pamela as an extension of her. And, for Samantha, that was probably a good thing. She needed to have total trust in the people around 'Chelle and her other children.

Still, "She sees helping people as something really wonderful. She's learning more and more about what all kinds of jobs there are, what all people can do; that's what school is about, broadening your horizons. 'Chelle has found something that interests her, and maybe that's supposed to happen. Maybe it's supposed to be a lifelong thing, and maybe it isn't. But, if it is, the answer is directing her toward all the different opportunities out there, and letting her choose."

"But, what if she does decide to be a PA? I know there are lots of other things she could do, but what if she does choose that one?"

"Well, you helped Michelle when Mandy was absent one day when you were in fourth grade," Stephanie recalled. "That wasn't too bad, was it?"

"I guess not."

"It was just one time, but still, you got through that all right. It might be tough hearing about some cases, but Colin's there helping with publishing and printing your books. I'm sure he could handle a few things. Maybe she'd go to him and talk about having to discipline some of those bullies who act like that just because they're bullies, and they aren't in need of other help. And, I think you could do more than you think. You might not have all the answers, but none of us thought Kimmy could be a parent when she was growing up; I sometimes wondered how she'd ever be an adult when I was Pamela's age. And, she's been a better parent than she thinks.

"You've got a lot fewer problems than Kimmy ever did. And, I really think you'd do okay if 'Chelle told you about the stuff she handled. When it came to the problem kids, you might be the most active mom of a PA there's ever been about checking on backgrounds, talking to parents, and so on..."

"No way, I'm sure you'll be the most active," Samantha declared.

Stephanie agreed that she'd be helping Pamela a lot. She felt really badly about not knowing how to help Samantha sooner, even though there was no way for anyone to know the full extent of the problems when Samantha had been in Kindergarten through to about the end of second grade.

"Still, Samantha, you'd probably want to be even more active. I think it would help you feel a lot better about the stuff 'Chelle would handle. But, I don't think you need to worry about that; fourth is the lowest grade they've ever gone, they'll never appoint a Kindergarten PA." Both laughed.

"Yeah, I guess you're right. There are other things she could do. And, if the time comes she wants to be a PA, well...I guess I'd manage," she spoke hesitantly.

"I know you would! Because, you have some great talents!"

Samantha blushed, and used the term she did with Stephanie at various times like this, when she really was considering what kind of an impact Stephanie truly had had on her. "It's all because of you, Mom."

Stephanie beamed. It still amazed her, after all these years and her own children, to hear Samantha call her that.

'Chelle had walked into the bedroom excitedly asking, "Is it time yet?" for the tenth time since she'd come home from Kindergarten as Samantha was finishing talking.

"I knew you were on the phone," Colin said, following her. "But, one of us has to take her to her first Honeybees meeting."

"Well, I guess I've got to go. My little bird's gotta fly somewhere else now," Samantha said. Once they exchanged "I love you"s, she hung up the phone.

"Mommy, it's not the birds, it's the Honeybees."

"I know that, silly. Come on, let's go meet all your new Honeybee friends." The building that housed the Honeybees was about halfway between the Tanner home and the school, and only a couple blocks from Samantha and Colin's home. It was decided that Samantha would walk 'Chelle there, and Colin and she would take the children out after the meeting for an early dinner.

Once they got there, Samantha recognized someone right away. "Hannah, how good to see you," she said as they embraced quickly. "It's been months, we've just been so busy with family, I didn't even think about you being the Queen Bee." This was their term for the "hive mother," one of the girls' moms who would be in change of numerous things.

"I am." Hannah had been a good friend of D.J. and Kimmy's. "My little girl's starting first grade, and even though we're in another school district, this is the closest hive. It's not too far, really. Just a few miles."

"Yeah, D.J. probably told you, we only have two classes per grade in Fraser Street now, instead of three."

Hannah looked at 'Chelle as she chatted amicably with a friend from her Kindergarten class. "Right. Just wait till she gets to go to day camp and meets kids from different cities, even. And the honey sale..." She stopped short. Had Samantha had the chance to sell honey in Kindergarten? She knew D.J. had won a new bike for selling the most honey, and Stephanie had just fallen short...she forgot how Michelle did with that.

'Chelle, as the typical nearly five-year-old girl - her birthday was close enough to the start she'd been allowed to join the 'Bees in September - interrupted quickly with the answer. "Mommy sold a lot when she was in Kindergarten."

"Yes, I did," Samantha said. She had joined after the fund drive had begun. Stephanie and Michelle - and especially their dad, the ever wild-about-family Danny - had begun to go to great lengths to try and "fix" the contest for Samantha, till being convinced that that was kind of like cheating a rightful winner. In the end, another girl had won, but Danny had gone out and bought a bike for Samantha, too. However, they finally admitted, soon after showing it to Samantha, that another girl had won; Danny wanted her to realize people were more special than things. She did, however, get the bike as a reward after a number of more weeks of good behavior.

They went back to a dressing room, as Samantha had found a Honeybee outfit that seemed to fit 'Chelle perfectly. It was quite small - much like her own first one - but the antenna, wings, pollen sac, and yellow and black striped outfit looked so precious on her. I'm so glad I'm able to involve my little girl in so many things, she told herself.

Hours later, another mother and daughter were experiencing a first. Kimmy and July went to get into the former's car. As Kimmy drove July to the Spencers', she began thinking about her role as a mother. "I guess you're going to be just like Miss Michelle tonight, huh?"


"Well, that's good. I guess I wonder, when I see you doing this, if I've done as well as I could with you. I don't want the only part of me that you inherited to be the ability to get tricked easily."

"It won't be, Mom. You've done a great job. Miss Michelle may be a little smarter," she said, deliberately making a major understatement. "But, I still love you. You and Dad have both done a wonderful job. You're just really lazy sometimes."

"True. I guess I do provide you with a lot of stuff"

"And, most importantly, Mom, you let me hang out with Miss Michelle all the time. I'd have a role model anyway, at my age." From what Michelle had said, while July had really been starting to see her as the major influence in her life, she knew it was important to encourage Kimmy that she'd done a good job, too.

"True. And, it's better than modeling yourself after some pro wrestler." They got out of the car, met the child, and talked to the mother in the living room for a moment before she went back upstairs. Kimmy asked if July had her cell phone. "Call me if you need anything," she said before she departed the home where July would be babysitting. "Or, better yet, call Michelle, that way Duane and I can keep watching TV."

"Come on, Mom, you know you'd come," July declared.

"You're right. I'd come. I just don't know if I'd do any good."

"Mom, Miss Michelle's spent a lot of time with me. I really look up to her and her sisters. But, I still think you're a great mom, too," she said as she hugged Kimmy. After they embraced, they said "I love you," and Kimmy opened the door and walked through it.

July turned toward her charge, and told him, "You won't be able to pull anything on me. I know all the tricks. Don't ask me how I know them, I just know them."

"Oh, yeah?"

Kimmy walked out. "Sorry, that was the broom closet." This time, as the boy's parents walked downstairs, she walked out the real door, to the loud laughter of the child standing there with July.

Mr. Spencer went over the rules and bedtime routine and such with July as Charlie's mom told him to behave. "You're leaving me with a month," Charlie teased, loud enough to make sure July heard.

"I've heard 'em all, Charlie," July said, looking over her shoulder.

"Even the one about your middle name being 'fourth?'"

"That one's so old, it's probably written on a cave wall somewhere," July retorted.

Once Charlie's parents had hugged and kissed him goodbye and good night, July knelt down to his level.

"You may think I'm like my mom," July said . "I tried to get around her a lot when I was younger. And, my babysitter, Miss Michelle, made sure I had consistent rules anyway. I learned she always knows what little kids are up to. And, I've become just like her and her sisters lately."

"You know my real bedtime's 11:00."

"Yeah, right; like I haven't tried that before."

Charlie rubbed his chin for a moment. "That stuff that looks like cookies in the cookie jar? It's really carrots, they just make 'em real funny looking. I need a lot every night 'cause of my diet." When July laughed out loud, he knew that wouldn't work. "Man, your mom thought our broom closet was the front door, even though there's a rug in front of the front door where you wipe your feet when you come in. How come you're so smart?"

"Well, you're in what, second grade at Fraser Street?" He was. "You know the PA, Pamela? Well, her mother was the first PA, Stephanie Tanner. And, her younger sister Michelle has been my babysitter since I was two years old. So, I'd advise you not to think about being Dennis the Menace. Think about being someone good instead. Like some of the Veggie Tales characters." July paused a moment, cocking her head slightly just like Kimmy would. "Although maybe that's not such a good idea; I can't imagine spending my whole life as a tomato."

Charlie laughed. "Yeah, cause then you'd always be trying to ketchup. Get it, catch up, ketchup!" He laughed hard. July chuckled.

"I can see why you're one of Jeffy's best friends. That sounded just like Mr. Farrington, didn't it."

"Yeah, he gets a lot from his dad. So, was your mom always that dumb?"

"Well, she's just a little mentally challenged. But, my grandma and grandpa Gibbler were really odd, too. She gets some of that from them, although we shouldn't call anyone dumb." She stood and suggested they get a game out to play, and while they played, she could tell some funny stories she'd heard. July smiled confidently. This was going to be a very fun night.

Of course, she had seen past obvious tricks, but Charlie witnessed some weirdness of her own soon after, while he was pulling out a game. She saw some pot pourri on the coffee table, but it wasn't burning. So, thinking it was candy, she picked up a little bit and put it in her mouth, making a weird face as she did so.

Charlie's look was even more surprised and confused. "Uh, July...that's pot pourri," he said, unsure of what to think. "It's to make things smell nice...when you burn it."

July took the little piece out of her mouth and looked strangely at it. "Oh. That's explains the weird taste."

"Rrrright. Are there any other basic concepts you need help with?" Charlie teased.

"Hey, that's not so strange, if you'd never seen it before you wouldn't know what it is."

Charlie rubbed his chin. "You know, you could be right. I guess an experiment like that can work out really well after all."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, I tried milk right from a cow once, and it was awful," he said, making a grossed out face. "I kind of wondered when I did that, who would ever have thought that you should drink stuff that comes out of there in the first place? And, after that first try, who would ever try it again? Now I know. Someone just like you."

"Wow. You think I could have invented drinking milk? I never thought of anyone actually inventing that, but I guess you're right. Thanks. Of course, it's ironic that I'm allergic to milk products."

Not knowing what else to say, Charlie simply shrugged and said "you're welcome" before they began to play.

Samantha looked sad as she tucked 'Chelle into bed after her bedtime story that evening. "What's wrong, Mommy?"

"Oh, I'm just thinking about what you said today, 'Chelle. About how you thought it would be cool to be a PA like Pamela someday."

"Why does that make you sad?"

Samantha knew the time would come - when 'Chelle was much older - to tell her everything. But, for now, she sought a way just to turn her attention away from the thought. She just never wanted to have to worry about hearing that 'Chelle, as a fifth grade PA, had to be really tough, had to deal with extremely rowdy kids, even possibly had to spank someone. Even if Samantha could help get other kids the help they needed. Stephanie had been right, though; all she could do was just try and gently steer 'Chelle.

"Hey, sweetie," Colin said as he walked into the room.

"Hey. I'm just trying to explain to 'Chelle why I'm sad that she could be a PA someday."

"I see." Colin walked over to 'Chelle's tiny desk and tried to squeeze into the little chair. That made both Samantha and 'Chelle giggle, with his six foot three frame trying to fit in a chair meant for a small, primary school-aged girl. "Chelle...this isn't working, is it?" As the others shook their heads, Colin sat on the floor next to the bed. "'Chelle, the PA position's a really good one. It's the one Aunt Stephanie started, it's a real honor to be one. But, there's so much else out there you can do. Hey, you could even be class President if you want like Mommy was."

"Yes, that's a great idea," Samantha said, passing Colin a thankful smile.

"But, Pamela's so cool!"

"I know she is," Colin responded. "But, she'll have to do things that break her heart. I know you think it's kind of fun to boss your younger brother around, but what have we always said? To be a good leader, you have to be tender and loving, not just bossy. And yet, while Pamela is tender and loving, just like we want you to be, she's not just going to boss kids, she going to have to punish them. And, you know how it hurts Mommy and I both to have to put you in timeout or ground you, or say you can't do something."

Samantha had grown accustomed enough to that aspect of parenting that she could at least build on it. "That's right, honey. We just don't want your heart to be broken."

"But, somebody has to do it."

"And somebody will. You've made some good friends your first week of Kindergarten. I'm sure there's one girl in your class, or in the day-long Kindergarten class, who will be the best there can be when you're in fifth. And, you can be class president or whatever else you want to be," Samantha encouraged her.

"Why can't it be a boy?"

"Because boys should never hit girls," Colin stated emphatically. Like her mom and others, Pamela hoped to be able to try any other possible punishment first, but it was known that the PA was allowed to spank if necessary.

Samantha was a little sad for a moment, but supposed he'd had to say it. It was the reason 'Chelle would understand most; she wouldn't comprehend about girls being a little more mature at that age, and thus not as likely to do it in fun, in anger, or without any self-control. And, indeed, perhaps Colin's was the better of the two reasons, anyway. She just didn't want to have to discuss spanking with 'Chelle, since they didn't do it in their family. She didn't want to think about the times Stephanie had spanked her, or the time she'd watched July when July was five and a half and being a terror, finally locking Samantha out of the house. She didn't want to think about any really bad kids, and hoped that 'Chelle wouldn't ask Colin to explain the connection.

Thankfully, not quite five, and focused on something else anyway, 'Chelle easily accepted the simple rule as an explanation. Instead, she said, "I bet it'll be Lindsey. She helped Mikey tie his shoes today."

"Could be; she's good at helping, isn't she," Samantha stated simply.

"Yeah. And, I'll be class president. Just like you, Mommy." They hugged, and Samantha and Colin kissed her good night before going downstairs.

Once they were settled on the couch and snuggling, Samantha said, "Well, we dodged a bullet there."

"I knew we could find a way to distract her. Besides, her mind will change ten times by next weekend about what she wants to do when she grows up. So, it probably will about fifth grade, too."

"Maybe. But, I just wasn't sure. I mean, something can get into their mind, especially with a girl like Pamela being there for her, and it can really make a difference. We've made sure Pamela, and Jeffy, and a few other kids and teachers look out for her. But, I just hadn't thought about how she'll look up to Pamela. I mean, she is over twice as old as 'Chelle, and with the size difference and grade level difference, she's probably practically an adult to her."

"As she should be, in that level of authority," Colin agreed. "But, we've got a lot of other people influencing her, too. And, who knows, she might take after me and be big into sports." They laughed. "Though I can't see her playing baseball for too long, but maybe soccer..."

"Well, one thing's for sure; no child of ours will play football, right?"

"You're right; we don't want that. There are plenty of less dangerous sports. But, the nice part is, at least she'll keep having good PAs for when she goes to first grade and is in there a full day." D.J.'s daughter, Elizabeth Jane (E.J.) Hale, was a very likely P.A. for 'Chelle's first grade year. That was very reassuring to Samantha, knowing someone she knew and trusted would be able to help 'Chelle her first year of spending the full day there.

Although, Samantha pondered aloud, "I can't help but remember what Kimmy said when D.J. named E.J.. 'Don't you wish you could be around to see what your descendants do when they get to X.J.?'"

"Yeah, and D.J. said, 'Kimmy, there's no way any of our descendants would go for a name that would shorten to X. Hale.'" Colin and Samantha laughed.

Having shared with Stephanie the concept of 'Chelle becoming a PA, and how Colin and she had dealt with that, Samantha decided it might be good, before school Monday, to walk around the building. It was the first time she'd walked through it completely since it had re-opened a couple years earlier.

Not only that, but she and Stephanie could possibly watch Pamela counseling someone. Despite her concerns about having to help 'Chelle with such things, Samantha was truly happy for Pamela, and hoped she would be the same wonderful influence Stephanie had been. As she'd said, Pamela was, in a way, an extension of Stephanie.

Stephanie and Samantha looked around at the brightly lit halls at they meandered through after dropping their children off. "Sure hope the new rooms we're adding upstairs and down will be done faster than this was," Samantha remarked. With the new baby coming, they were adding another bedroom and a family room, as well as half a bathroom downstairs.

"I'm sure it will be; it doesn't seem like it's cutting into your back yard as much as you worried it might."

"No, and we live pretty close to a park, anyway. The halls always were nicely lit here, this was good even before the renovation."

Stephanie agreed. "The building's about 60 years old, so it needed some help, but thankfully, by about 1960 they were built to last pretty long, so it could make it to a hundred like some of the old buildings you read about now."

"I'll say."

Samantha was about to mention the quilts her church did for visiting missionaries, and the date for the meeting of the quilting committee - which she and Stephanie belonged to - when they stopped by the principal's office and spied Pamela and 'Chelle talking. They stopped where the girls wouldn't be able to see them, and listened quietly and proudly.

There was a large chair in the office, with 'Chelle fitting in snugly beside Pamela. Pamela had her arm around 'Chelle, and with a smile said, "Some of those kids really don't know how to take turns yet, huh? Well, you'll build up patience soon enough. After all, you've got a little brother at home, and a baby on the way," she finished with a laugh. 'Chelle giggled as well, her nervous look disappearing.

"It's hard to be friends with them when they're like that."

"Yeah, it is a little. But, we all have times when we feel like we have to have our way. Or, we just get too excited. I'm sure they won't be like that all the time."

The adults listened as Pamela and 'Chelle talked a little more. They were extremely happy to see Pamela's maturity and 'Chelle becoming more comfortable with school. Stephanie was amazed at how much it seemed like her and Michelle, or her and a bevy of other kids. Indeed, both considered how it could have been Stephanie and Samantha if things had been different. But, Samantha was just glad that her little girl had the chance to be surrounded by so much love and support as she grew.

Samantha smiled and gazed at Stephanie. "The future sure is in good hands," she proclaimed.

"It certainly is."