So I walk into my kids’ school the other day with my stunningly gorgeous baby on my hip (this has nothing to do with the story, but she is in fact gorgeous and yes, I am that lame, shamelessly singing praises of my infant’s loveliness). And this lady follows behind me, cooing and making a huge deal about the aforementioned baby, so of course I love her instantly, even though I just met her, and I’m struck by her exceptional taste in babies.
Then she says, “Oh, is Ava enrolled here next year?” And I respond “no, she’s going to public school.”
Hold up. Background. We currently have our kids enrolled (thanks to the mammoth generosity of grandparents) in a very expensive, fancy school in one of the most yuppie-filled, hyper-educated, wealthy cities in the whole freaking world (I mean I think it is, having not been to every city in the world). I won’t mention its name, but I will tell you it’s on Hwy 80 between Dixon and Sacramento, and it starts with a “D.” But that’s all I’m saying. And there’s this type of mother who lives in this town…you may know her…she’s pretentious and quick-mouthed and affluent (not really affluent, but just enough to feel better than the poor people) and she has an assuming air about her, one that figures every child at least plays the cello by kindergarten and writes Russian and plays two sports and does theater, very well. In fewer words, she bites the big one and I hate her.
But I digress.
So this little number asks me politely about Ava’s continued enrollment and I say “no” and tell her which school Ava will attend and oddly, this news isn’t too shocking since many third graders bail to the public schools for fourth grade. But then she drops a bomb on me, with an almost imperceptible flicker of evil in the eye: “Oh, that’s a good school. The G.A.T.E. program is good – you’ll be happy there. My daughter did well in G.A.T.E.….”
But I had already stopped listening. I froze for a second and stared really hard into her mean steely eyes, hoping my silent derision would register somewhere in psyche. I mean, that is precisely the sort of behavior that makes me want to beat certain mothers with blunt objects. She knows perfectly well that not every kid gets into the “Gifted and Talented Education” program. She knows that a kid has to score very well on a pretty competitive test to get in. But despite all this, she refers to it as if everybody does it and everybody obviously participates and if your kid were going to public school, clearly she would be participating in the smart-kid (translation: “children of good parents”) program. Obviously.
I felt like asking her “Do you ever wonder why other mothers hate you? Because I can clear that up for you in about 12 seconds.”
But I’m a rock in the stream. All Zen and shit. So I didn’t say anything other than “Okay, thanks. Bye.”
You see…my kid didn’t get into the G.A.T.E program. There. I said it. And I’ll admit that it hurt my pride. My ego wept in the corner for at least six minutes after I read the results. I almost demanded a retest, confused at how my daughter could be reading at a 9th grade level and not be considered above average. Or how any kid of mine could not be considered above average. Duh. Then my ego took a new approach, getting mad because I only had her tested at the persistent requests of her teachers. So it’s their fault. Confused, I asked Ava about the test and she said nonchalantly “well, I didn’t know why I was taking the thing, so if I didn’t know an answer, I just sort of skimmed it and filled a bubble in.” Sweet. I’ll blame her score on that and move on.
So of course this woman’s comment burned a little, but what lingered was a total disbelief that a person could be so damn out of touch. I mean why not just be nice? She dropped that statement knowingly, with a complete and total awareness of the fact that it’s really kind of an elite group those damn G.A.T.E. kids, and rather than just being mellow, chatting it up with the commoners and whatnot, she saw an opportunity to brag, to look cool, and hopefully, (if all goes well), to make another mother feel inadequate and small – and she took it.
And I thought to myself as I passed her again “Can’t we all just get along?”
Then I thought, ah, whatever. Gifted and Bite Me Education.
At least I’m nice.
Most of the time.