My 12 year old has a knack for simple but clever costumes. Last year she wore a bathrobe and a shower cap trick-or-treating, and it delighted everyone. This year she went to the nerd side and is…
… math homework! She was uncertain about the costume before the halloween party last night, so at her behest I took her to Party City where she hated everything. Too girly, too dumb, no humor. It does seem that commercial costumes are lame, and strangely sexualized even for young children. Among other offerings, I noticed black sequin boy shorts, and lots of feather boas. My daughter was glum on the way home, but I pointed out no one will remember the princesses, vampires, or storm troopers, but they will remember the girl who was math homework.
My husband was a good sport and brought four girls to the school Halloween party. He confirmed my experience so far with this school: everyone knows everyone and-or is related to everyone, and while they’re very nice to you (the outsider) you definitely feel like the foreign explorer visiting a distant land. Many of the parents at this school attended the school themselves during their elementary years; the cliques are deeply entrenched and are more clan than social circle.
Then, this afternoon, I brought my second and third youngest girls to the open house at my oldest daughter’s high school. This was no easy task being 8+ months pregnant and ancient. My right leg was throbbing, my back hurt, and I felt like the baby was about to fall out at any moment. When I sat out a flight of stairs during one part of the tour, one mother actually asked with great concern if I was ok. I explained my leg hurt, but I wasn’t in labor- yet. “Well you look GREAT!” she said. I’ve been getting this a lot. “You look great!”
What does this mean? Are they being polite? I sure don’t look great: pale, languid, weak, literally limping. I think “you look great” is code for “you’re not fat.” I once watched a documentary about the right to die, and one of the featured assisted suicide patients mentioned that people kept telling her she looked great (despite the fact that she was dying horribly, and slowly, of liver cancer). She eventually realized it was because the cancer had made her lose so much weight that she was now lithe. And looked “great.”
I endured, and came home alive with baby still intact.
Having had a daughter at this school for two years I could now see through the BS of the tour. For instance, they end the tour with a long presentation from the computer science teachers who push the idea of IT being the career field of the future (without mentioning competition from H-1B visas) and how their school is the only school on the island that offers AP computer science. But I know, from my daughter, that their “computer science” courses are glorified typing classes. I don’t know if this is typical of high school, or if it’s because it’s an all girls school. But they do have a nice art program, and my 11 year old is quite the budding artist. The overachiever listened to the presentations with intense interest but reiterated her concern that it wouldn’t be challenging enough nor would it fast track her to ivy league. Who cares about ivy league? Not me, but apparently she does. Truth be told I don’t know what kind of high school would help her get into a “big three.” It might actually be better for her to attend the lousy local public high school and try to pass herself off as an underprivileged overachiever, than to attend a private school. There has to be some way to game the system. At least she’s not asian, in which case she’d be subjected to harsh quotas from the top schools.