Controlling the Freak

I had one of the most weepy days last week. It was definitely a combination of things: no sleep for too many nights in a row, on a very different page from Husband which doesn’t bode well with no sleep, Husband not feeling great which was causing the no sleep pattern, PMS and then the very dreaded high school application process kicking my butt. All of it culminated on one particular day and I felt as though I lost total control over my life. I am not a control freak but I am someone who relies on being able to have a conscious say in important moments. When it comes to applying to school, however, not only do I seem to have an inability to guide, control or even steer the process, but also I feel helpless, restless and very vulnerable.

I have gone through applying to schools in great depth in London and now in LA, and I am here to tell you that there is absolutely no difference between the two. They both suck. If you live in a major city where there is competition for most things, than make no mistake, sending your child to the right private school for him is harder than picking the right Husband!! Why? Because when you get that wonderful feeling that tells you that you’ve found the right one, the feeling is probably not mutual given the odds. London day schools were held like fresh, ripe carrots in front of my nose, dangling there with the smell of Spring in the air, enticing me to take a bite, and then ripped away with our hearts along side it, just as we chose which one we wanted. LA high schools are much the same, but slightly less obvious, as you’re lead to believe that every child really does get into their school of choice.

School of choice??? How about school on the ‘list’, and the list has to have enough choices so that you are guaranteed to get in to at least one of them. The ‘list’ consists of the school/s that you believe suit your child, combined with the school that doesn’t really fit your child but for whatever reason, be it it’s a public/state school with automatic entry or a newer private school that’s not yet competitive at entry, and you have to declare you are content with whatever Fate brings.

Now…there have been many times in life I have said, “It’s meant to be…It all happens for a reason…It’ll all work out in the end….” but I’m finding it incredible difficult to relinquish whatever little control I actually had over this situation (quickly realizing none at all) and let the chips fall where they must. In fact, when I received a call from our school asking if I was planning on adding any more ‘choices’ to our ‘list’ as we only had two, I said ‘no, I think we’ve picked the right schools’. That didn’t go down well and they were gobsmacked as to how stubborn and blind I was to the mechanics involved with making these lists. ‘All the other families have four and five and even six choices on their lists. You are the only family with two choices. You must have never done this before,’ they said.

Ha! In London I felt like we had 15 schools on our list, which got narrowed down and down and down to our final five. We spread ourselves so thin we nearly cracked under all the pressure and upkeep of test taking and interviews. So I thought, let’s focus, let’s be real about the choosing process and let a few schools know just how much we want our son to go there. Nope, apparently a really bad idea, so much so that the Head of School had to call me to tell me how ridiculous my approach was. It’s a numbers game and it looks like we are flunking the Maths section.

My friend emailed from London that she is currently ignoring everyone at the school gates because she can’t bear hearing how it’s going with other boy’s applications. She hides in her car till she can see her son and then quickly grabs him and pulls away. I know the feeling. Even when you think it’s all going really well, you almost don’t want to jinx it by chatting with others. The only solace in this process is this: for whatever reason, the angst and torture I felt last week has been replaced by a more care-free, calm self today. Nothing has changed other than my perspective shifting, again, and wanting to celebrate the spirit of my son rather than dwell on the misgivings. And it’s a damn happier place to be, that’s for sure; control, or no control.

About Jennifer

Jennifer is from Beverly Hills and has lived between London and LA since 1994. She's been a writer for over 20 years in the world of film, tv, travel and magazines and has been a class rep eight times and counting...
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