Thursday, March 17, 2011

Trying on schools: One size doesn't fit all.

Every so often, we all get firmly spanked with the splintered paddle of mortality. And from my steadily graying perspective, the Grim Reaper's croquet mallet seems to whack me with ever greater frequency.

As I discussed in this post, my ten-year-old daughter and I have been visiting local middle schools recently. It's not like it used to be back in the day, when your elementary, junior high and high schools lay before you with greater certainty than the roof of your mouth being scraped to shreds from that second bowl of Cap'n Crunch.

We now have choices, which, I suppose, is good. My daughter already has a spot reserved in our neighborhood middle school, but we decided to perform this exercise as a backup plan, kind of like bringing two lighters with you on your way to the woods with a pack of smokes stolen from your mom's purse.

She and I had already checked out a small, private school, which we both liked a lot, but naturally would entail a sizable financial outlay.

We also had paid a visit to an alternative educational facility. Teachers and administrators were addressed on a first-name basis, the classes were quite informal and we were told that students embark on scores of camping trips and other excursions into nature. I can think of tons of kids who would love this type of program, but my little urban diva would not be one of them.

After watching a class discussion, with questions answered by children whose names were "Karma" and "Justice," we concluded that, although the building was great and the staff friendly and dedicated, it just wasn't our cup of herbal tea.

Our last school visit occurred on Wednesday, at the place she's slated to attend in the fall. After perusing the sixth grade section of the building, with stops at band, language arts and science classes, parents and students gathered in the cafeteria for a final pitch from our tour guide.

The counselor stood, surrounded by a semi-circle of visitors and listed the plethora of after-school clubs and activities available to students, including bus service afterward.

This is where the sale was closed.

"We've got so many great things for kids to do after school." He scanned the crowd to maintain eye contact. "There's steel drum band, chess club, math club, hip hop dance, hair styling..."

I felt a sharp poke to the side of my rib cage. My head reflexively jerked to the right to address the source of the irritation. She hoisted herself onto her tip toes and leaned into my ear. "Dad, I'm going to this school. I am so doing hair club," she whispered forcefully.

This wasn't a question, a suggestion or a request. "Okay," I mumbled back.

I visualized her, sometime in October, returning home around 4:30 and sporting Bo Derek corn rows or possibly a Ziggy Stardust orange mullet. Neither of us listened very intently from that point forward, since destiny had been acknowledged. We bid farewell to our host and walked silently to the minivan.

I had a moment.

Ten years ago, this girl I was walking alongside was a cackling toddler, able to insert a fistful of Cheerios, including fist, into her mouth. She was so dependent and fragile.

Ten years from now, this girl whose shoulders I placed my arm around, will be a young woman, possessing all of the rights and privileges of the full adulthood opening up before her. She'll be setting sail, and I'll be on the shore waving.

Sure, we've got some adventures ahead of us, but she'll never be a baby again.

She'll always be my baby, though.

No comments :

Post a Comment