Thursday, September 8, 2011


Tomorrow is our daughter's first full day of school. We agonized over where to put her and the short story is that we pushed to get her out of our local school (one of the best in the city) into one that is more diverse. There was a lot of thought that went into this decision, many conversations with parents with families like ours, lots of reading and research, and when we finally decided, we felt relief.

Then we had to push to make it happen. The school we got her into had a waitlist of 21 kids just for kindergarten. While not the best in the city, it's still good enough that 21 families want their kids there. We found a sympathetic secretary who made a call. I wrote a letter and then hand-delivered it to the central office. Two days later, we got a letter saying she was in.

We gave that secretary today a thank-you note and gift certificate to our local coffee joint.

This morning was B's half-hour assessment with her new teacher. It went fine. She could do everything the teacher asked of her, including addition and subtraction. Afterward, I let the kids play for a pretty long while on the school playground. We walked to our car to leave with Beti running ahead on the sidewalk.

She stopped in her tracks and gasped, then yelled for me. Our girl has some drama queen tendencies, so I shrugged it off. Then I got closer and saw for myself: in the hour and a half we'd been in the school, our car had been broken into, the passenger side window completely smashed and our gps stolen. Glass was everywhere. I had no idea what to do.

I was at first worried about the glass. Then I was worried about our daughter being freaked out by this and maybe deciding she was better off in Addis. Turns out she quickly got over the shock of our car being "broken" and was really worried about the bag of lipgloss and nail polish she got for her birthday that she'd left in the car.

Of course, the irony hit me. We'd agonized over and then pushed to get her out of the "good" school (that is 99% white) and into the school in the "sketchy" neighborhood, only to have our car broken into on her first day at school. Had we made the wrong choice? Should we have stayed in the "safe" district where most of the kids show up on their first day wearing brand-new Hannah Anderson dresses instead of hand-me-down and yard-sale purchased clothes (like some families we know, cough, cough)?

The break-in experience certainly left a feeling of yuck about today, but you know, we're still excited about this school year. Her teacher told us there are four other kids of color in her class. For the city we're in, that's that bad. People want to be in this school. We are still committed. I've filled out the PTA membership form. We know that this break-in could have happened anywhere.

So tonight, her clothes are laid out ready to be put on in the morning (capris a hand-me-down from friends and the pink top bought by me and Goodwill over a year ago). Her hair is done, only needing to be retouched in the morning. Both kids are asleep, probably the earliest bedtime ever, and I've got this stuck in my head.

Good days ahead. No need to worry, my girl. I will always guard your lipgloss.

while you slumber
in case you ever wonder
if a summer breeze just brushed your cheek
know its me


Christine said...

So sorry about the window and the glass. So happy the lipgloss is safe. I hope her first day is good, brave little girl, she is. I love the sound of the school.

Anonymous said...

I think it is good that you had the GPS to distract the thieves from the lipgloss and nail polish.
When we lived in Vancouver, BC we lived in a neighborhood of multi-million dollar mansions. Our cars got broken into every couple months. It was completely annoying. But in the end it didn't feel that scary. Just drug addicts looking for loose change or anything they can sell. Somehow they didn't feel dangerous.
I hope this school year is everything you wish for and more.

Sha Zam- said...

Thank goodness they didn't take the lip gloss. Teg would be destroyed if anyone took his purple nail polish!! Good for you guys. Advocating for our kids is hard.

Sharon said...

Sorry about the car, but it sounds like you guys have made a great decision.

neola said...

Hope Beti had a wonderful first day of school today. Being the nosey school reformer I am, I think you made a great choice for little B to see diversity and inclusion in her school. Cheers, Rooney family!

kn said...

I love the idea of the school. Our school is the same, the most diverse and people trying to get in even though the test scores are not the highest.

Diversity matters. She'll feel more comfortable in herself. How can you learn well if you feel uncomfortable?

Great for you guys!!

hotflawedmama said...

When shit like that happens here it makes me realize how strong my convictions are to do it. (As in, "I guess I really believe in this if on our first day my car gets broken into").

Blessings to all of you as you go through the school year!