Archive for the ‘Essays’ Category

Thank You, Elizabeth Edwards

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

“Resilience is accepting your new reality, even if it’s less good than the one you had before. You can fight it, you can do nothing but scream about what you’ve lost, or you can accept that and try to put together something that’s good.” -Elizabeth Edwards

Thank you, Ms. Edwards, for putting so much effort into raising wonderful children while also doing your best to prepare them for life without you. I have so much respect for how you did that, from the letters you wrote to your kids to the practical things you taught them.

You faced every mother’s nightmare — dying before your youngest children are grown and on their own. And you did it with class and grace and so much love.

I’m sure your children will carry on your good works and will make their mark on the world in many ways thanks to what you did with the too-short time you had with them.

Rest in peace.

Celebrating the Holidays at Disneyland!

Saturday, November 20th, 2010

We’re all huge Disneyland fans in our family, and I can tell you, the only thing more fun than spending a day at The Magic Kingdom (and California Adventure — I have to have my Soarin’ Over California fix!) is exploring the parks during the holidays.

(By the way, as you can see, I have no problem looking as ridiculous as possible when it comes to either Disneyland or the holidays…)

Well, there is one thing that’s even more fun — going with my brother, Lee, who hasn’t been to Disneyland since he was a kid, and my sis-in-law, Anya, our 6-year-old nephew, Christian, and our 18-month-old niece, Valentina, who have NEVER been there! Seeing all the Disney magic through the eyes of young kids is a great way to get into the holiday spirit.

Now, in case you didn’t know, Team Sena has been in the World Series spirit, big time. And what better place to celebrate the Giants’ big win than at our favorite place?

(See those shirts on my husband, Randy, and my son, Matt, above?) Apparently we weren’t alone. It was fun to walk around the park and see how many families were wearing their Giants gear after the big win. (And the guys had to pick the ORANGE tea cup, of course.)

So what did we do to celebrate the big win? At Disney’s Holiday Mom Blogger Event,

we created, with the help of Disney’s wonderf

ul camera crew and Disney ambassador Danielle DuBois (who is a total sweetie — and so knowledgeable about all things Disney), a fun video:

After that, Matt (who is such a Disney fan he asks for “behind the scenes” books about Disneyland for Christmas) interviewed Danielle about the Holidays at Disneyland Resort:

Of course, actually visiting attractions like the Haunted Mansion and It’s a Small World was the best part. They’re both completely decked out for the holidays — along with Main Street (amazing Christmas tree!), New Orleans Square and, well, everywhere else! Check out this video:

Sleeping Beauty’s Castle looks SO gorgeous and magical at night, and it was fun to see the kids’ eyes light up when they saw the fireworks over the castle. (And did I mention the SNOW that follows the fireworks? Christian ran to catch the snow as it fell. Very cool.)

And the Disneyland holiday parade, featuring Santa, of course, is a fantasy come true, with wooden soldiers, all your favorite characters and more.

Matt is 14, so he’s into Space Mountain, Indiana Jones and the Haunted Mansion. He pays so much attention to the Haunted Mansion, and how it differs between the “regular” version and the Haunted Holiday version, that he can tell you what items in the mansion got moved each year and what replaced them! Impressive.

And I’m happy to report that we took Christian to the Haunted Mansion (with a bit of a warning up front about the scary part at the beginning), and he LOVED it. (Thanks to the folks at Disneyland, by the way, for providing some of the great pics, here. It’s so much fun to add them to the shots my family took so you can see more cool stuff. Guests aren’t permitted to take flash pictures in the Haunted Mansion, so it’s fun to get to share this photo.)

Now, I like all the attractions, but what really made my socks go up and down this year was a particular treat you can only get at a certain time of year…

Over at Cafe Orleans in New Orleans Square, Chef Martha L. Sigala creates the most mouth-watering Mickey Mouse cinnamon beignets with an incredible eggnog sauce. Forget the calories. (Hey, you’ll burn ‘em off walking around the parks, right?) You can’t miss these beignets.

And Chef Sigala has even been kind enough to share her recipe for the beignets (although you’ll want to go to Cafe Orleans to have them with that fabulous eggnog sauce, trust me):

You’ll want to spend plenty of time in New Orleans Square this time of year. Little Valentina loves any kind of live music, and this is a great place to take a break, enjoy a meal (we recommend the clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl, which Christian scarfed up), and listen to the music.

And New Orleans Square is decorated SO beautifully for the holidays. It’s a don’t-miss “land” for me this time of year.

All the lights and ornaments will dazzle the little ones, too. It was such a treat to see all the babies’ and toddlers’ eyes light up as their parents strolled through this area of the park.

Not to be outdone, California Adventure is in the holiday spirit as well, and Santa is busy greeting kids over at the Paradise Pier Boardwalk.

Speaking as a mom who’s always on the lookout for the perfect Christmas-card photo, I know you can just picture the wonderful shot you’ll have of your child on Santa’s lap in this beautiful setting. I love the Victorian style of Santa’s coat and vest. (Well done, Mrs. Claus!)

Our family has certain “musts” when we visit Disneyland, and that includes the Enchanted Tiki Room. No, the birds and flowers
aren’t decked out in holiday finery, but when you’re with a toddler who makes bird noises whenever she sees any bird, how can you resist?

Even the waiting area outside the entrance is fun, with flowers, water and even fire attractions to entertain you while you wait for the doors to open. Here’s Valentina waiting, with her Uncle Randy, for the show to begin. Yep. She’s lovin’ life.

Of course, there’s plenty to do for teens, too. (Just ask Matt, AKA “Mr. Fast Pass.” His record on Space Mountain in one day — so far, anyway: five times.) And as you can see, the Disney characters are happy to pose for those great shots with kids of all ages. Here’s Matt and Goofy. (It’s now Matt’s Facebook photo.)

Speaking of photos… Here’s something really cool to look forward to in the new year:

In 2011 (starting around late January), Disney guests will become the stars of a nightly spectacular when photos taken in the park during the day become larger-than-life projections, right in the park. At Disneyland, the façade of “It’s a Small World” will be the canvas for the show. (At Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, the guest photos will be projected on Cinderella’s Castle in the Magic Kingdom.)

In both locations, Disney PhotoPass photographers will capture guests’ memories during the day, and as many as 500 photos will be used in each location every day. The nighttime show will use the latest in high- intensity projection technology to create vivid visuals.

The company also has launched a website for sharing and viewing memories, and it’s available now. Upload your photos, videos and text memories at You can even categorize your memories by theme, emotion and location.

The website (also available soon in Spanish and French) has a simple-to-use interface for uploading, viewing and searching Disney memories. The functionality also will be part of the Disney Parks pages on Facebook, YouTube and MySpace. Check it out, then upload your family’s memories!

At the end of our day, souvenirs in hand (gotta get that Disneyland tree ornament each year), great family holiday  memories in our heads — and tons of great photos in our camera — we headed home with tired feet, snoozing kids and happy hearts…

…and visions of Mickey Mouse Beignets with Eggnog Sauce dancing in our heads.

Thanks, Kind Target Customer

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

It had been one of those days.

Dishwasher problems. The contractor working on our deck railing took a chunk out of the deck. Long work day.

And then I ran to Target to get a bunch of stuff, and the cashier stashed, on the rack under my cart, the plastic box, raisin bread and vitamins I purchased. (He put the bread and the vitamins inside the box.)

As he did that I said to myself “don’t forget that stuff when you get to the car.”

You guessed it. I got home, unloaded everything and realized I was short one plastic box, a loaf of raisin bread and my One-a-Day for Women. I’d left the cart in the parking-lot cart-drop-off area. Someone was probably headed home with a plan to make raisin-bread French toast tomorrow, I figured…

But maybe not.

I called Target and asked for Customer Service.

“Did anyone turn in a plastic box with a…”

“With a loaf of raisin bread and some vitamins?” the guy said. “Got it right here behind the counter.”

How nice to be able to share with my teenager my little tale about the nice person who brought my little box of goodies back into the store.

Sometimes that’s all it takes, I told Matt, to turn “one of those days” into a pretty darned good day.

To the very kind person in the Target parking lot… Thanks.

Guest Post: I Was Bullied As a Kid

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

Stacy Lipson is a terrific freelance journalist and a woman who’s not afraid to speak up. I’m so happy that she wanted to share this very personal post with you, and I think she sends a critical message to parents.

We need to talk with our kids about bullying. Someone’s children are doing the bullying. Someone’s children are either joining in, standing by and doing nothing or standing up for the rights of the kids who are getting bullied and saying “this is not OK.”

Please take a moment to read about what Stacy went through as a child and a young teenager. Then sit down at the dinner table tonight and talk with your kids. It’s going to take all of us together to make a dent in this very real problem — which can sometimes lead to tragedy.

Thanks, Stacy, for your post.

Growing up, I wasn’t a part of the popular crowd. I didn’t seem to fit in with the other kids. I was terrible at sports, and with big, dorky glasses that seemed to envelop my face, I was a prime target for bullies.

The abuse started in third grade. It began with a small paper airplane that had been tossed into my cubby hole. “You have germs. Stay away from me.”

Later, my classmates graduated to an even better nickname: Stacy Germs. In line for lunch, on the playground, or at class events, my classmates would huddle as far away from me as possible. I felt isolated, alone, and miserable. So I did what any child would do — I told my teacher.

My teacher held a class meeting, in which she discussed how wrong it was to tease others. Still, my classmates’ behavior was clear enough. I wasn’t a part of their group.

As the years passed, I had trouble making friends. Every time I tried to talk with the other children. I would be shunned for being an outsider. Over time, I learned to find solace through reading. My mother would take me to the bookstore and I would spend hour upon hour delighting myself with fictional characters, immersing myself in a world full of literature and knowledge. Yet I was alone, in ways more than one. And I didn’t know how to tell anyone.

By the time I hit seventh grade, I was a walking mess of insecurity. I was desperate to make friends, but had no idea how to do that. At the same time, my body began to change, and the bullying that I had gotten so used to over the years began to turn into a dulling roar — only this time, it was directed at my body.

A neighborhood bully, Arthur, started to sexually harass me on the school bus. The cruel comments he made left me a quivering, crying mess by the end of the day. Day after day, I endured the comments. My sister and brother, who rode the school bus with me, would try to stand up as my ally. Still, their words fell on deaf ears. Even with three voices raised, the other students sitting beside us never said a word. More than once, multiple voices would join in the torment.

As the abuse continued, I found myself wondering if there was something horrendously wrong with me. When I pounded my pillow at night, I wondered what I had done to make them hate me so. Was it the speech problem I had as a child, where I would accidentally slur my words? Or the way I did my hair, pulled up in a ponytail?

I wish I could say the abuse stopped. That an adult stepped in to make it better. But it didn’t stop with the sexual harassment. In gym class, other girls would offer their own version of torture. I began to get teased for the gym shorts I wore, the t-shirts I brought. Slowly, a ball of bitterness began to sit in a hard knot at the pit of my stomach. In class, I was afraid to speak, for fear that laughter would echo throughout the room. I ached to be a part of the social scene. Still, I didn’t know how to get the abuse to stop.

One night I confessed everything to my mother. With heaving sobs, I told her about all of it. She went to the principal, to the teachers, and to the bus driver, but the abuse never really stopped until I turned 16.

After reading recent news reports about the astonishing number of children who have been bullied, and after reading their tales, this is what I have to say to all of the parents out there:

You may think you understand. But you don’t. You can’t understand unless you’ve experienced it. And if you have experienced it, you know how it feels. The anxiety, fear, and sadness that seem to be a part of your daily experience. The wish that some day, not too far off, the abuse would stop. The wish to be someone else.

I don’t like to talk about what happened to me as a child. I never thought I would need to. But I think it’s important for parents to realize that bullying is an epidemic. It’s not going to go away anytime soon, and once one child starts, the rest can join in. It’s time to do something. Children need to realize the power behind their words and actions, and parents need to make sure that their children are listening. Hard.

I didn’t speak up then. I wish I had.

Stacy Lipson is a freelance writer. Her work has appeared in regional and national publications. Follow her on Twitter.

Guest Post: Thanks, But My Tween Will Pass on the Hooker Heels and Makeup

Friday, October 15th, 2010

Today’s guest blogger, Jennifer Smith, is mom to a tween girl and a teen boy. She’s a proponent of university-model schools (I want to ask her to blog about that, too!), a world traveler and a freelance writer and editor. Thanks for your post, Jennifer.

Whose job is it to help my 12-year-old daughter make important wardrobe choices? Everyone is eager to help. The malls are selling grown-up mystique to 12-year-olds faster than I can say, “How about a cute t-shirt under

Magazines and television ads and shows are “helping,” suggesting our kids can be tomorrow’s big pop stars if they dress and move a certain way. And many of the other girls are pressuring those who dress less “cool” to
dress older.

One day recently, I heard a young fashionista ask another tween girl, “Where did you get that shirt?” After the reply that the girl bought the shirt at a nearby children’s store, the fashionista rasped back saucily, “Oh, I thought so.” Sounds harmless enough to a parent, but for a fragile tween, that’s enough to make her want to burn everything in her closet!

Maybe a better question than whose job it is to help my daughter (i.e., market tween fashion to her) is, “Who is going to help my daughter make wise decisions about the way she dresses?” My answer? Her mom. No one else is going to help her navigate these decisions as honestly and carefully as I will. Not her friends, not the other tweens out there wearing full
makeup, hooker heels and skirts cut up to “there,” and certainly not the media.

No one else is going to be honest with her about the pitfalls of dressing too old too soon. With all the messaging encouraging girls to grow up fast, I want my daughter to have time and freedom to enjoy being a girl, playing sports and acting goofy with her friends.

That doesn’t mean she has to dress frumpy; I just don’t want her to dress “sexy,” for crying out loud! There’s plenty of time to grow up, but once those child years are lost, they can
never be regained.

Let’s be parents and take back our right to say “no” to anything that steals the innocence of our girls, including their wardrobe choices. Our “no” to growing up too fast and dressing too maturely is just a “yes” to so many other good things our kids need to be doing right now.

Guest Post: Letter To My Daughter (In The Wake of a Senseless Tragedy)

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

I’m so honored to be able to share with you a guest post from Vicky Bell, who blogs over on Vicky Bell’s Blog. This post really touched me, and I will be sharing it with my teenage son. You might want to share it with your kids, too.

Hello my girl,

I  wanted to say hi and tell you how much I miss you and that I hope your classes are going well and that you are having fun, too. But I also have to have a mommy moment —  bear with me here.  I won’t take long, and I won’t be saying anything I haven’t already said in one form or another, but it is important.

You may or may not have heard about the N.J. college student who killed himself last week because his roommate had posted videotape of him having sex with another guy. A terrible, senseless tragedy.

My mommy job requires that I remind you of two essential things:

One: Nothing ruins your life forever. NOTHING.
Two: Nothing ruins your life forever. NOTHING.

If that young man had only waited a couple of weeks, nobody would have cared. He’d have gotten past it.  People have short memories. Life would have gotten better, much better. His parents and friends? They loved him prior to the tape, They would have loved him afterward, too.  A few awkward moments and then life goes on.

But when you are young, you don’t know that even the awkward moments are fleeting. On this,  you just have to trust the old people. Remember when you were really small and cried and cried over something?  Well,  it didn’t last. That’s kind of what it’s like. Awful things happen, you feel like there’s a rock in the pit of your stomach, somehow time goes by and it gets better. I promise you, it ALWAYS gets better.

The students, a girl and boy who were involved in the taping and posting, are being charged with invasion- of-privacy crimes and possibly other things. Their college life is over.  They will have to live with this death the rest of their lives — and their families are devastated. What they did was so wrong, but also so kid-stupid.  Not to mention mean. And so their lives will be different forever. But even so, their families will love them and they will have time enough to hopefully live in such a way as to make meaning from their mistake.

So, my beautiful girl,  never, ever think something is un-fixable. NOTHING you do will ever keep us from loving you. NOTHING you do could be so awful you can’t get past it.

And if someone is mean to you, and it isn’t something you can ignore, seek out people to talk to about it.  Surround yourself with people who are supportive. If you ever need help and don’t know how to ask, try writing a letter instead. And right now, before you might need such help, think about whom you would talk to if needed. In the midst of turmoil, sometimes we don’t always think as clearly. Having a plan makes it easier to find help in crisis. And remember there are always alternatives. Always.

Finally, don’t be mean. Don’t let other people be mean. Stand up for the underdog, protect those who aren’t as smart or confident or easygoing as yourself. Treat people’s feelings like fragile little puppies. If you play with them, be gentle.

I love you so much and I know you really don’t need me to tell you this stuff… But it’s my job.

Love and hugs,

— Vicky Bell is 50 years old, married to Jim, proud mom of three grown kids, with a newly emptied nest and the sense that life is a grand adventure. She is also the owner of the Red Lion Paint Store on rt. 206n, Branchville, NJ, home of the 2010 “Art is Local” Project.

The Kissing Hand

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

Today I’m delighted to welcome Rania Combs as a guest blogger on Parent Talk Today. The Kissing Hand warmed my heart when my son started kindergarten. I’m so glad to see that it is still helping parents and little ones make that transition as a new school year begins. (And thanks to Rania’s son for being our back-to-school model!)

My 5 year old looked forward to this day for months. For as long as he could remember, he watched his older brother and sister go to “big school.” It was finally his turn to go.

But for me, this day was bittersweet. Although my older children seemed grown-up at 5, my youngest still looks like a baby to me. A part of me wants to hold on tight, turn back time, and keep him small. I know I can’t. I’m grateful for the opportunity to watch him grow.

My son clutched my hand as we walked into the classroom and he sat in the chair that was assigned to him. Parents were asked to stick around for a while so they could fill out paperwork. Then the teacher invited everyone to sit on the carpet while she read a story, The Kissing Hand, out loud.

If you have children, you’ve probably read about Chester Raccoon before. On his first day of school, Chester stands at the edge of the forest and cries. He doesn’t want to go to school, and begs his mother to let him stay home so that he can play with his friends and toys and read his books.

To help ease the transition for Chester, his mom tells him the secret of the Kissing Hand. Spreading his left hand open, she kisses the middle of his palm and tells him that when he misses her, he should press his hand to his cheek and think “Mommy loves you, Mommy loves you” and the thought would fill him with warmth. Before Chester leaves for school, he gives his mom a Kissing Hand too.

All the children sat quietly and listened while the teacher read the story. In the silence I could hear a few parents sniffling. When the teacher turned the last page, she asked the parents and children to exchange Kissing Hands. Then one by one, the children walked away from their parents, exploring the new surroundings.

As I walked out the classroom, I saw my son smiling and talking with a new friend. I don’t think he used his Kissing Hand once today. I, on the other hand, pressed my hand to my cheek before I even left the school building.

— Rania Combs is a mom and an attorney with a Web-based law firm that helps Texas families prepare wills, trusts and estate plans online, without the usual overhead. For more information, visit her website.

Chill, People! (Your Kids Are Watching)

Sunday, September 26th, 2010

I had $2.99 worth of fresh basil (a big container from Trader Joe’s) in the fridge and didn’t want it to go to waste, so I thought I’d whip up a batch of pesto.

Trader Joe’s was out of the required pine nuts, so I figured I’d bite the bullet and stop at Bristol ($$$) Farms on the way home to just grab some, figuring I’d pay maybe a dollar more there. I didn’t see the price, but when the checker rang them up, I saw that they were $23.99! (For about 10 oz of pine nuts, if the bag was even that large…)

I was friendly and polite but said I just couldn’t pay that much for pine nuts, and I asked for a price check to make sure they weren’t mis-marked. What happened next was worth the hassle. Talk about a hoot!

Three or four beautiful-people Bristol Farms customers stood behind me in line — and the body language, exasperated looks and sighs that came from from this crew, because they had to wait two extra minutes for a price check, were hilarious. They looked completely put out, and one man and his wife were so ticked off, they practically got in a tiff right there about whether to stay in that line or find a new line.

We’re talking about a price check that took about 90 seconds. How do they respond when hit with a real problem? Did their parents not teach them anything about being patient and considerate? It eye-opening to watch these beautifully dressed people in their 30s and 40s sink into a toddler-worthy snit over such a minor inconvenience. (And yes, we’ve all had things happen where we HAD to get home to the babysitter in the next five minutes, or we HAD to get to the hospital to be with a family member, but that didn’t appear to be the case here.)

But humorous moments aside, it made me wonder… Do these folks care that their kids are watching them when they behave as if the world exists solely for their convenience and other people are merely road blocks on the way to getting what they want?

Guest Post: Growth Lines Keep a Family’s Memory From Fading

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

I’m so happy to share with you a guest post from Gian Trotta, a home-improvement writer who lives in Newtown, CT with his wife and six-year-old daughter. He moved to Connecticut three years ago after completing a gut-level (and gut-wrenching) renovation of a 164-year-old Brooklyn, NY townhouse

When people leave a house, their presence can linger in myriad ways.

In the case of our Connecticut home, a steadily ascending tier of dated lines on the side of one door in our home charts the growth of the previous owners’ two daughters until they were 8 and 10 years old. Dated multicolored pencil, ink and magic-marker lines marked with “A” (for Annie) and “K” (for Katie) showed the girls’ steady ascension over the years.

At times the lines were widely spaced, showing the girls going through growth spurts. At other times, the lines and markings themselves are squiggly and haphazard, as if the measurements were hurried as the young ladies had places to go.

We didn’t push the previous owner to paint over or clean off the lines before we moved in, as we both had more pressing details than the door to attend to in order to make closing. An inspection had showed that the property was in violation of some village codes. Since Michael, the father, was being relocated to Vermont for work, he wanted to sell the house as much as we wanted to buy it. So he and I spent an afternoon drilling anchor posts into the rocky Connecticut soil and running cables over the outbuildings to bring the home up to wind-resistance requirements.

As we worked together, he filled me in with many details about the house, and I half-jokingly told him that we would never paint over the growth lines and he could come back anytime with the girls and resume the measurements.

Repainting the door stayed near the bottom of my punch list as more pressing projects took precedence. After a while, we realized the lines had just kind of … well, grown on us and we did want to remove such a vibrant vestige of the earlier inhabitants’ vitality.

In time, we might just work out a deal to replace the door with a new one and give them the old one to take back to their new home in Vermont. But just the other day, my daughter asked if we could start charting her growth on the door, so I emailed Michael to ask permission if we could add Thea’s height lines to the door. He gracefully granted the request, along with a promise to bring the girls by for a visit the next time they were in Connecticut.

— Gian Trotta is an Associate Editor at Consumer Reports’ Home and Garden section. You can read his blog postings on other home-related issues here.

Another View: One Mom’s Emotional Education

Sunday, September 19th, 2010

Guest blogger Darryle Pollack started her blog,”I Never Signed Up for This,” in honor of all the times she has said those words — as a mother, artist, breast-cancer survivor, writer, chocoholic, TV journalist, Yale graduate, procrastinator, and wife (because her husband always says he comes last on her list).

I don’t do back-to school shopping  any more — but I still sense the educational expectations and emotions that arise every September.   The start of a school year summons up strong feelings.  The first day photo op. Proud parents, sweet smiles, sharp pencils.  (Do they still USE pencils?)

For most parents, the feelings are positive: Pride.  Hope.  Freedom.  Sometimes the feelings are not as positive:  If you just sent your kid off to school or college for the first time and you’re worried.  If your kid has a teacher  you don’t like – or is in a school you don’t like – or is put into the wrong reading group.

I feel your pain.  I wish I could spare you the emotional wear and tear and just say it will all work out in the end — because probably it will.

I also wish I could go back and spare my former self some of the drama.

It started from the moment my first child was born when my dad started discussing where she’d someday go to college.  I didn’t buy into this ridiculousness.    (But I was thinking Yale.)

Alli’s education started at 6 weeks. (I would have started sooner but I had a very rough delivery).  I started her in a mommy and me class nearby — to check out the school’s potential as a learning institution.  That was the first of many schools she attended — we’re talking double digit numbers. And that was before kindergarten — when the real nightmare started (a.k.a.  private-school applications).

At the time we lived in Los Angeles. Problem one is that we weren’t in a position to donate a building. Problem two is that there were way too many kids and way too many schools and way too many choices for someone like me — who felt I had to do it absolutely right.  I was so intense and so invested in this process, I felt as if my entire life — and hers — depended on her getting into the “right” school.

Only she didn’t.  She didn’t get into a single school we applied to.  I could hear the gate to Yale slam shut.

I won’t even get into how a parent feels when your kid is rejected from anything, much less at such a tender age.  Alli was 5, happily oblivious that her future success was swirling down the drain.   The grownup was the one who cried.

At the one school I desperately wanted her to attend,  Alli was on the waiting list — along with several other kids we knew.  This was a tiny school — with space for 11 girls in kindergarten. Several siblings were automatically admitted, so god knows how many desperate parents wanted those remaining few spaces.  I hate to make light of something serious — but it was a little like waiting for someone to get hurt so you could get their donated organs.

I grasped onto that one sliver of hope,  pulled myself together and went into the school. I demanded requested to speak to the director to convince her that in the event one of the lucky little girls holding the brass ring decided to let go,  the very first child to come off the waiting list should be mine.

Sitting in the director’s office pleading my case, I did something I would not recommend to parents in the same situation. Maybe I shouldn’t even mention it — this is not one of my prouder moments.

I cried.

Yeah. I said I wasn’t proud of it.

I spent the next couple months checking out every public and private school within the Los Angeles county limits. And then  over the summer we got a call and Alli did end up at that very school where fortunately the administration had the vision not to punish a child because of the lunacy of a parent.

Years later, the same experience was repeated — different school, different city, different ending. (That time I didn’t use the water works.) I have to admit it hurt a little less in the second go-around.   Time — and cancer — helped put things in perspective.

For the schools it was always a numbers game. For me it was always emotional.  It took a lot of years and lot of tears until I finally shut down the drama department. I’m over the angst. Both my kids’ educations are ongoing — and I’ve been educated, too.  I’ve learned to go with the flow and not to get all emotional about it.

Even though Alli never did go to Yale.

I wish life came with a lesson plan.  I wish 5 year olds never had to be rejected from anything. I wish all kids could get the education their parents hope they will get. But even when they don’t, there is something to be learned — if not in school, then from the experience. Mostly to enjoy those precious moments in September and every moment possible the rest of the year. And keep tissues handy.