After the July 4th holiday Sweet M, Fathersvox and I went to visit a school that he and I had seen in the springtime and thought might work better for M than her current placement.
I had told M that we were going to visit a school that needs a smart girl like her, and that if she liked it — and only if she liked it — we could think about her going there. I told her that she'd have a meeting with a psychologist, and get to see the school (that was what I'd been told).
We kept our family reunion rental car an extra day and drove the 1 and 15 minutes (it's that long a commute, even counter traffic) and arrived a few minutes early for our 10 a.m. appointment. We checked in at the front desk, and then waited in the lobby. We waited, and waited, and waited. At about 10:30 I asked the reception person if the psychologist we were meeting had been detained. "She knows you're here," was the response.
So we waited and waited and waited some more.
At 11 a.m. the psychologist came out to greet us. She spoke first to Sweet M, and insisted on shaking her hand. Okay.
Then she said hello to me and shook my hand. Although we did meet in the spring, I hadn't expected her to remember me.
She said nothing at all to Fathersvox, so I introduced him.
Then she escorted us through the halls of the school. I thought she was giving us a tour, but actually she was looking for a classroom where she was planning on having Sweet M sit in on class. This had never been explained to me. I had simply been told that I would need to drop M off for a couple of hours for her interview, and to be sure to bring a lunch for her.
The psychologist couldn't find the classroom, so we wandered around up and down the stairs until she asked someone for the correct classroom.
When she found the classroom, the psychologist urged Sweet M to go in and join the class.
M folded her arms, and said in that most cartoon-like, sing-songy bratty voice a kid can muster, "Oh NOOOOOOOO, I am NOT going into that classroom."
"But M," said the psychologist, "we even have a desk for you with your name on it."
The cartoon bubble over my head — you know, the one of what you're really thinking — would have read, "Genius. Pure genius. Now you'll never get her in there."
"Oh NO," M repeated, "I am not going in that classroom. I am not going to your stinky school. I have a school I like just fine and I am NOT transferring."
While part of me is cringing, part of me is thinking, "Whoa, M, how'd you know the word 'transferring' -- Great vocabulary! Great usage! Where'd you learn that word?"
At that point the teacher of the class that M had apparently been slated to sit in on came out and said, "It's okay, you're just in time to go to gym with us. You like gym, don't you?"
Now I am doing everything in my power not to burst out laughing. Like gym? What are you, nuts? No, she doesn't like gym.
It went downhill from there.
But the coup de grace of this morning was the moment I was leaving the psychologist's office. She'd suggested that we speak privately. Fathersvox and M were dispatched back to sit on the benches in the hallway. In the private meeting, the psychologist told me, wisely, I thought, that we should work out a transition plan for M -- that sending her anywhere else when she's so attached to her school and would be so angry about leaving -- would be a mistake.
Then she said, "I am not shutting the door on her application, we have rolling admissions, but I think she needs to be prepared for a move." As we are walking out of her office, she handed me a book to read, which left me with both hands full. She opened office door and said, "Believe me, I am not shutting the door on her application" and then she walked through the door ahead of me and let the actual door to her office, a heavy wooden door, slam closed against me. It was such a movie scene that I'd wished there'd been a cinema verite documentarian there to catch the moment. Hilarious. If I wrote this up in a novel, I'd be accused of being heavy handed, but that's actually what happened.
The trouble, of course, is that I am proud of Sweet M for speaking her mind. I was annoyed that I had not been told in more detail what they had planned for her "interview." And all I can say about the one-hour wait without even a perfunctory apology is I guess they are testing either the parents' frustration tolerance or their level of desperation about finding a suitable school.
In the car on the way home we were all sort of quiet, processing what happened. I broke the silence, "Hey M, can I ask you a question?"
"Where'd ya learn the word 'transfer'?"
"Oh, I saw it on a cartoon."
"Wow. Good word. Good vocabulary."
Now if only I could find a school that wasn't like a cartoon.