Saturday, November 20, 2004

The Portfolio Box

The pressure is on.

In a few hours, Teen Spirit has his big interview at the high school he really wants to go to. It's been interesting watching him really "kick butt" when it comes to working on the portfolio and essay required for admission to this extremely popular public school.

4,999 other kids are also applying for the 250 seats. But don't dwell on that. Teen Spirit is determined, he's pumped, he's scared.

He wants this and it is so OBVIOUS. Smartmom has never seen him work so hard on anything. Clearly, he wants to hit the ball out of the park with his leadership essay. The other night, Smartmom and Hepcat hovered as their son typed for nearly three hours at his desk in the dining room. They kept interupting him saying, "Can we read it? Can we see it now?" He waved them away. Finally he got up from his chair and said, " I am so tired. You can read it now."

And it was pretty damn good. Pretty DAMN good.

Last night after supper, it was time to do the finishing touches on the essay. Teen Spirit knew that he had some proof reading and copy editing left to do. But as is his wont, Teen Spirit was procrastinating. Smartmom nearly had a melt-down because it needed to get done and it needed to get done NOW. It was just stuff really -- because Teen Spirit did such a great draft. But still, she wanted him to make it even better...


All she wanted was for him to clarify this, flesh that out, add something there -- typical editorial stuff. But honestly, her tone was way too hysterical -- the pressure was REALLY getting to her (in a not very constructive way). Needless to say, some yelling ensued: Teen Spirit screamed, "This is my piece of writing, They want to see something I've written. This is what I want to do!" Teen Spirit ran into his room and slammed the door. Hepcat ran after him with a tall glass of ice water. OSFO snuck in there too. Smartmom called Groovy Aunt to cry and feel sorry for herself.

But then something miraculous happened, Teen Spirit went through his three-page essay sentence by sentence -- changing words, moving things around, re-writing. He even asked OSFO if she liked the word "recognize" better than "notice." She voted for "recognize." He typed all the changes in and asked his dad and mom to read it. THEY KVELLED. He printed it out and put it in his special cardboard portfolio box. DONE.

Except for the portfolio box itself.

Smartmom had this idea that it would be "fun" to put a photograph of Teen Spirit on the cover of the box. Hepcat was dubious, Teen Spirit was downright against it. But Smartmom persisted -- she wanted it BAD. For two days she asked Hepcat, photographer dude, to show Teen Spirit some of the thousands of pictures of Teen Spirt he's taken recently. But Hepcat, maybe rightly, maybe wrongly said: "I want this to come from Teen Spirit. It's his thing."

Still, Smartmom WANTED IT.

Smartmom actually got quite testy about it. Teen Spirit agreed to it in theory when Smartmom said, "Leave them with a picture of yourself. It'll be a way to distinguish you from the other 4,999 kids they're meeting." He relented.

Well, Smartmom woke up at five this morning and found the box sitting on the dining room table -- and the box was decorated with pictures of Teen Spirit. Smartmom felt many things: sad and embarassed about over-reacting, about melting down, about being stubborn, about being hysterical and making the stakes so high and letting the system get her down. She also felt love for her husband and son who pulled these pictures together in the 11th hour. She felt downright silly for caring so much about the box. But it did, quite honestly, look good.

Really really good.

The box is covered with four pictures of the handsome and soulful young lad -- Teen Spirit and Hepcat must've selected them while Smartmom was reading to OSFO at bedtime. It's a diverse group of shots: there's Teen Spirit snuggling his grandmother's cat (sweet), in a wild costume (creative), swimming (athletic), pensive (brainy and deep).

6:30 a.m. Saturday morning. The portfolio box sits on the dining room table, filled with two papers from last year and the leadership essay. Teen Spirit's alarm clock is ringing. In two hours the family will drive up to the Upper West Side and deliver Teen Spirit to his interview and essay writing test at the school. They will send him off with their blessings, their love, and their hopes that he will just be himself. "Just be yourself," they will say. "Because you are such a great person. Just let them see." And then they will wait in a coffee shop and wish they could be flys on the wall of the interview room. But they can't. They have to let go. That's what parents do. And that is the hardest thing.

What a process this. Hope the kid survives. Not to mention the parents.


At 7:56 AM, Blogger mamainwaiting said...

This is a wonderful piece that captures are the angst you have been feeling, And the way in which things do get done when you let go a little bit.Good work. MIW

At 7:26 AM, Blogger Udge said...

Hope TS gets in! I've got my fingers, toes and eyes crossed for him. Good luck (and maybe chill out a little? ;-)

At 5:43 AM, Blogger kalisekj said...

Hey, I have enjoyed...your blog is informative - even entertaining.

I have a halloween sites. They pretty much covers costumes and masks related stuff.

Thanks again and I'll be sure to bookmark you.


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