My daughter is special... to me. She can read and draw the most beautiful pictures. She is a good sister and friend and she tells amazing stories. She does one of the best blowfish impressions I have ever seen. And, she's pretty.
In registering her for school I have had to take her specialness and plunk it into a system and I hate it. Part of it is my pointless railing against the dual identity I have for myself as a working mom; part of it is the angst and inescapable politics of choosing among the 100 plus schools I work with just one FOR ME! For HER!
It has been the longest first day of school in the history of motherhood. I broke down today with the weeps like so many before us as we watched them disappear behind a heavy bright red door. It was today and not in September that I felt the... Klunk, and the tweed tartan jumper is gone. Slam, and the pastel pink jeans take off at the behest of two keds. Swish and a pair of corduroys pad off into kindergarten land.
I turned it all over a hundred times in a futile effort to make this unknown a known. More often than not we tried to make it what we knew, no matter how dissatisfied we'd been with our schools. We tried and we lost. It's like the feeling when you have to sneeze; when you have to sneeze and you're driving. You know that at some point you will involuntarily close your eyes and it will be over but there is both risk and culpability in that moment. God, I hope no one sees me.
This was the first time we were so fully on course to screwing up our kids. To seeing nothing in their future but an adaptation of our own past. We want to find a place in a system to ... wait for it ... nurture.... you had to know it was coming... nurture their uniqueness. It was hard for p-man and I not to 'emphasise academics' -- even at this young age. While we bear the academic unremarkableness of persons you might think had other cloaks, we don't really. We reflect on our own smart(ass) statuses as an insurance plan we need against society. Why not her? And, him?
Our kids are smart enough but they are also very friendly and pretty and all much that makes it likely for them to fit in in a way we know nothing about. The world is their oyster it seems by virtue of their being or their age don't ask me. All you can ask me is why the hell would you make choice for them based on your own experiences. Because that's something we really must answer for.
I telephoned this morning the second fancy school and said no thanks. The decision has been made, in September we will go to the local school. We will walk with neighbours and maybe we'll sign her up for Chinese school on Fridays. She will go to a plain child care program there run by the Y. She won't speak French or learn under much method. The child care doesn't have any leather furniture and it doesn't make its own paper. It will be plain.
And, she'll still be special, maybe more so.
ps. I think I have a fun post tomorrow