Monday, February 15, 2010

"Does the Olympics Have Singing?"

Because I was in Dallas enjoying their biggest snowfall in recent decades from a hotel conference room on Thursday, Audrey spent the night with my mother. I was devastated when my Friday morning flight was canceled due to the horrible conditions, but my agency quickly rebooked me the last ticket to Seattle and I was able to make it back in time to pick Audrey up from school.

Driving through that South Seattle neighborhood always fills me with a sort of pathos. It's not unlike many other neighborhoods in the city, in fact it's typical Seattle, but going there is like taking a plunge into Swineville. When the Swine first moved there and Audrey began going to school there in 2008, I got lost often trying to find his house, trying to find the school. Over and over I would get lost, and I didn't feel safe, and I felt like I was in another world. So engulfed in my Bellevue bubble, and not traveling as often as I do now, I found myself shocked by the abrupt contrast between where I live and the long street I had to drive to get to Audrey's school and daddy home. On the Eastside it's Beemers and Blondes. In Seattle, it's just reality. And I preferred denial. I didn't want my daughter to go to school there, I wanted her to have the far superior top education the school my district could offer her rather than the poorly ranked alternative school her father won the right to send her to. An alternative school offering community rather than scholastics and somehow that's okay.

Going through boxes of my old memories I found some school work from 1988. I was 8. I had long paragraphs of neatly written cursive giving a review chapter by chapter of a book we'd been asked to read. Audrey is 8. It's funny, by the time I was 8, by 1988, I'd lived in so many places including Ireland and the Phillipines and gone to 7 different schools. It's a wonder I learned anything. But I am not comparing myself to Audrey, I was also in the fourth grade by that time, so it was fourth grade level work I was looking at, and she is in the second grade. But I also found stacks of honor roll certificates, awards of achievement, letters from the two South Carolina Senators congratulating me on my college scholarship, and I can't help but fear that she will never have a taste at that success because of her father's choice in schools that do not value academic achievement but rather "seeds of change". Which is all well and good, except that's not the way the real world works. Oh, I know how all of this sounds, but I don't care. I have a smart kid, but she has a dumb dad and is going to a dumb school, and I'm not with her enough to counteract the effect, so pathos it is.

The parents at the school know the Swine and they know the Warrior Princess. They've seen me. I'm the one that shows up to events now and again, keeps to herself and wears makeup and business attire (I once heard one mother comment negatively on my high heels to another mother...le sigh, Seattle). They don't know me. We have about as much in common as sushi and beef jerky. Except one mother, the mother of the child that happens to be Audrey's best friend, how serendipitous. She too wears makeup and business attire (we are an army of two), and she too abhors the school and would pull out her daughter if it weren't for her kid's dad. Yes, pathos it is.

Friday afternoon, I swooped in, picked up Audrey and we drove back to my Bellevue Bubble. I told her about the snow in Dallas and she told me about her roller skating party. We snuggled and ordered pizza and watched iCarly.

This afternoon we watched figure skating and marveled as Audrey oohed and aahed as the pairs glided over the ice. How had we never watched figure skating together? She loved it. And after watching the Olympics all weekend, she looked up at me tonight and asked, "Does the Olympics have singing?" and I grabbed her up in a big hug to soak up her innocent adorableness. "Because it seems like one big talent show," she continued. Yes, that it is. But no singing, and no paragraphs of painstakingly written cursive. There are all kinds of competitions in life. It's one big talent show. And it's our duty as parents to provide the foundation for our children to be successful in whatever path they choose.