For the past week our lives have been lived against the backdrop of a big decision. It feels as though the choice was sitting there like a mural on the back wall of our lives. As we moved through our days, engaging in all of the mundane and not-so-mundane activities that make up a normal week, that decision sat there and waited for us.
Eve was accepted to two of the three schools she applied to for next year. They are both great schools and, although Bubba and I were ultimately in charge of making the final choice, we wanted to hear her honest opinion before making our choice. Her immediate reaction was to choose the magic school, and that's how Bubba and I felt, too. We felt we owed it to ourselves to deliberate a little, though, so we didn't tell Eve what we thought. Instead, we gave ourselves the week to sit with it.
We made lists of pros and cons. The magical school is a 35 minute drive from here. The other one is five minutes away. Eve doesn't know anyone at School 1, she knows at least two other kids who've applied to School 2. School 2 would carry her through high school - no more transitions. School 1 goes through 8th grade only. School 2 costs about $8K less per year than the other one. School 1 is for girls - the other one is co-ed. Bubba, Eve and I all fell head-over-heels in love with School 1. We liked School 2 very much and are confident in their reputation and academics.
Eve waffled all week. I waffled some, especially when I thought about how the extra drive to and from school might impact Lola and whether it would make it harder for me to participate as much as I want to in both of their schools. Wednesday night we went to a reception for accepted students at School 2. The new, state-of-the-art auditorium was packed, the high school jazz band was playing as we entered, there were mini-cheesecakes on the tables and a panel of 20+ students, staff, parents, and alumni to field questions. The faces of the panel were white, upper-middle class, professional, friendly and eager to help.
Thursday morning Eve and I were invited to join School 1 for their weekly "community meeting" run by the students themselves. We entered the room to a busy, bright room with 130 girls of every color and shade sitting cross-legged on the floor. A 7th grade girl sat in the corner on a stool, her laptop on her lap, projecting her PowerPoint agenda on the wall. Staff stood and sat around the edges of the room and the student body president commanded attention with her microphone at the front of the room. Each grade level had specific announcements and then there was time for an 8th grade student to read messages from the suggestion box the girls instituted as an anonymous way to address sticky issues (one of them reminded the other girls to please wrap their sanitary items tightly before placing them in the wastebasket). Staff made announcements about ski bus, math club, the talent show, and other issues before the meeting adjourned so the girls could go to class. Five of the staff stayed behind with us to answer questions. Their faces were all different colors but in one regard they were the same - their eyes sparkled with humor, passion, creativity and joy for this place. They were so proud to share their school with us and genuinely interested in Eve and her concerns. They encouraged her to ask questions and made sure she knew she could call them when we left if she remembered something she had to know.
She skipped up the street to the car. She grinned from ear-to-ear. She squealed, "Okay, I've made up my mind. I have to go to school here. I just feel good at this school."
Good enough for me. It's time for that backdrop to come down, anyway. It's settled. Eve will go to the school that lights us all up from the inside. The drive matters not a bit. I'd take her piggy-back the 35 miles if I had to so that I can see that look of pure excitement on her face as she gets up to go to school every day.