So yesterday was Princess Zurg’s “second consideration” interview with the arts and communication magnet school.  She said it went fine, which is what I’d expect her to say because I don’t think she’s worldly enough to know when an interview has gone poorly–not that I suspect her interview went poorly or might have gone poorly, just that I wouldn’t expect her to catch on even if it had.  I really only asked to make conversation.

PZ’s teacher and therapists (including her art therapist) at school had written letters of recommendation for her, which she was supposed to turn over during the interview, but I realized too late that while I had given her the letters (in their original plain manila envelope) along with her artwork samples (in another plain manila envelope), I had never really explained what exactly they were or what she was supposed to do with them, so she never did turn them over (though she did show the interviewers her artwork samples).  So I went back to the school this morning to turn in her letters of recommendation, since these fine, caring professionals had gone to all the trouble of writing them and they just might have a teensy bit of influence over the school’s final decision, which we’re supposed to get on or around the seventeenth of this month.

We were told (along with all other applicants and their parents) that letters of recommendation were optional, and I believed it.  I believed it because I understand the culture we live in, which so values egalitarianism that it wouldn’t dream of privileging the hard-working and highly-motivated over the slothful and indifferent.  However, it says right on my daughter’s application that her current school is a clinical day treatment program, and insofar as that might have a teensy bit of influence over the school’s final decision, I thought it prudent to let them know what kind of progress she’s made since she was initially placed there.  Answer:  tons and tons of progress.  Practically a freaking miracle.  In fact, the phrase “freaking miracle” may very well have surfaced in one of her recommendations.  Probably her classroom teacher’s–I noticed she used multiple exclamation points, which I found charming.  I know as a professional writer I’m supposed to abhor overuse of the exclamation point, but I just flat-out adore PZ’s teacher, and I adore her exclamation points.  Anyway, I tend to overuse exclamation points in my own correspondence, as they are one of my few reliable methods of conveying enthusiasm.  (I wish I had an exclamation-point prop I could pull out in face-to-face conversation.  That is the extent of my facial handicap.)

I hadn’t realized how stressed out I was over this application business until I figured out I was going to have to make a special trip to the school to deliver these letters that should have already been delivered.  I had really been looking forward to washing my hands of the whole affair.  I don’t have to worry while I’m waiting for the decision because I’ve decided to just forget that we ever applied in the first place, now that there’s no longer anything I can do about it.  That seems best.  If she gets in, I’ll be pleasantly surprised:  “Oh, that old thing?  Very well, then.  Excellent.”  If she doesn’t get in, I’ll just say, “Dude, I am so over that.  Whatever.”

I don’t think PZ will be devastated if she doesn’t make it.  She might be disappointed, but she has too much general anxiety about starting a new school to invest much angst over which school it is.  That’s my impression, anyway.  I also keep telling myself that I will not be devastated if she doesn’t make it because our alternate choice will be perfectly adequate, I’m sure.  And I just can’t be devastated because her chances of getting in through this “best-fit” selection process are about as good as her chances were of getting in through the lottery, i.e. not great.  There are approximately 20 slots left to fill.  There were easily 100+ students at the interview thingamajig yesterday, and that was just for visual arts and creative writing.  They still have to hold interviews for students interested in music, theater and dance.  That there might be 20 students in the pool who are just as talented and interested in the arts as my daughter does not stretch my imagination.  I still don’t like to imagine it, so I’m just forgetting about it now, thank you.

I will not like to get that letter, though.  I never like getting rejection letters, even though I know not to take them personally.  I just can’t help it.  I’m sensitive.  Last year Mister Bubby was tested for the talented and gifted program.  They conducted the testing over two days, and he was sick on the second day, so they weren’t able to assess him, and I got a letter telling me that he wasn’t eligible for the talented and gifted program.  Even though I knew that the decision was based on an incomplete assessment (not to mention knowing that the talented and gifted program is much more an act of labeling than it is an actual enrichment program), I still didn’t like someone telling me that they didn’t find my son sufficiently talented and/or gifted.  Even though I like to think I don’t harbor delusions about the extent to which my children are blessed with genius, that letter kind of ticked me off.  Having your child assessed for giftedness is like asking, “Does this outfit make my butt look big?”  You think you want to know, but on second thought…nah, you really don’t.

Actually, it’s worse than asking if this outfit makes you butt look big.  It’s like asking, “Does this outfit make me look sexy?”  If they tell you yes, it does indeed make you look sexy, you’ll say, “Wow, I knew it!  All the world is rainbows and butterflies!”  But if they tell you eh, not really, not so much–how do you react?  You could say, “Liar!  What the hell do YOU know, anyway?”  You could, but I can’t.  I just get sad and wonder what made me ask in the first place.  It’s not so different from how I reacted to my children being diagnosed with autism.  During the process I was stressed, but I went through it because I just had to know for sure–but when I found out for sure, I wept because deep down, I was hoping for a different answer.

But that’s neither here nor there.

Speaking of communication, expectations and whatnot, I had to get another babysitter for my kids yesterday because Gertrude was in the hospital.  (She hurt her foot and it got infected, but she’s getting discharged today, so I think she’s okay.)  My across-the-street neighbor has been out of work for several months and had mentioned she’d be willing to babysit for us sometimes, if Gertrude was unavailable or, I dunno, we had a hankering for variety?  Anyway, I had to call on her last-minute, and she was able to do it, but we were not able to discuss the [sotto voce] financial aspect beforehand.  And I came home to find that she’d not only watched my kids but cleaned my kitchen besides.  I mean, did my dishes and made a valiant attempt to get the Kool-Aid stains out of my table.  And I’m pretty sure she at least spot-mopped my floor.  So of course I thanked her for all that and probably sounded embarrassed because, well, that’s to be expected, don’t you think?  But truthfully, I wasn’t embarrassed, I was just confused about what I ought to pay her.  Gertrude is wonderful with my kids, but she doesn’t clean anything, nor do I expect her to.  And my neighbor, who is very nice and probably sensed my hesitation as I was making out a check for her, said, “And don’t worry about the other stuff (i.e. the cleaning)–that was just…”  And I honestly don’t remember what she called it:  “nothing”?  “working off nervous energy”?  “a big fat bonus for you, and by the way, that outfit makes your butt look big”?  No, I’m pretty sure that wasn’t it.  It was something totally neutral and ambiguous.

Anyway, I really didn’t know what to do with that.  I like to take people at their word, you know, because that’s how I expect people to take me.  If I say, “Don’t worry about x,” what I mean is “don’t worry about x.”  I wouldn’t say it if I didn’t mean it.  Believe me.  Because you never know when someone’s going to take you at your word, it’s too risky to say it if you don’t mean it!  As my last trip to Vegas indicated, I am not a risk-taker.  But how do I know if someone else is such a risk-taker?  I don’t even know if my neighbor has been to Vegas or not.

So I ended up just paying her what I pay Gertrude per hour, only rounded up a tad.  I agonized quite a bit over it afterward, kept thinking about how one assesses the fair-market value of child-caretaking–let alone the value of child-caretaking plus house-cleaning.  How do I decide what to pay someone who spent three hours watching over my babies and cleaning my kitchen, besides–in short, doing my job, only…better?  Well, that really sent me into a tailspin of depression.  The good news was that I stopped wringing my hands over what I should have paid her.  The bad news is that I hate myself now.

Well, not really.  Not completely.  Just mostly.  I could use a doughnut and some Effexor right now, so I’ll bid you adieu.  Have yourselves a delightful weekend, gentle readers.  (P.S.  That outfit makes you look sexy!)

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