School Daze (Blogisode Four)

Maybe Santa will bring us nice sheets.

Maybe Santa will bring us nice sheets.

Hello again. hey–I know I am writing less than I did last year, and I hope you are all okay with it. I wrote WAR AND PEACE six times over last year and even my most loyal readers had trouble keeping up with me, so this year the pace is slower. Less is more, if you will. That said, you know I publish blogs twice a week for Weight Watchers, so hop on over there and read those if you have a hankering.

As I type I am in my office, and as most of you know my “office” is the A train. I am zooming downtown to look at linens at Macy’s on 34th Street. There is a sale. That is my kind of miracle on 34th street. I am excited; I was going to paint our room a warm beige but Beatrix’s room just about killed me, so I am keeping the lovely (although sorta depressing) deep blue and opting for a linens change instead. Last night I said to Rob, “Do you care about bed linens at all? Do you want a vote?” and his response was,
“Nope. The only opinion I have about our bed is that I am getting in it in three minutes.”
He’s straight. This proves it. Not that we were questioning it, but I love moments like this when he doesn’t care about linens or rattles off some obscure sports statistic.  I was going to toss in some sexual innuendo but I won’t because Charlotte might be reading and she will scream “Bad images!!” and cover her eyes and groan.

Charlotte, stop reading this and do your homework.

Anyhoo, back to Rob and linens, have I told you the story about registering for wedding presents with Rob? Omg. Don’t ever do it. Seriously. It was awful. I made him go, he tried to act enthused for the first 5 hours or so and then shuffled his way over to the beds and did a crossword puzzle (conveniently hidden under a stack of lists on his clipboard) while I ran all over the store and brought him things to say yea or nay. As you might imagine, this got old

The color of our room.

The color of our room.

fast–he was annoyed with me constantly saying, “Seriously, Rob, I need you to have an opinion about this because we are going to look at this FOR THE REST OF OUR LIVES.” and I was annoyed with him vetoing everything but not giving me any options. It was bad. I finally called in reinforcements and my mother came up after work to be Rob’s “stand in”.   After all that drama, we’ve probably used that china 12 times in 16 years. The moral of the story is not “Do not register” The moral of the story is “Do not bring Rob Meffe.”

Which brings me back to a solo ride on the A train. My friend Linda, my personal decorator (she’s taken a decorating class) is on speed dial. She’s there to remind me that I can’t get Tommy Hilfinger (too young) and I can’t afford Ralph Lauren even though I haven’t properly changed our linens in years and could justify that cost in a flash. She’s invaluable. I’d give you her number for your speed dial but she is waaaay too famous for that.
Speaking of famous, let’s get back to that squirt Charlotte Meffe and her high school search.

A quick recap.

Finding a high school in New York City is hard and involves ridiculous amounts of time and patience and paperwork. And we are not talking about the infamous NYC private school search, either, which is its own ball of wax and involves legacies and bribes and things you wouldn’t even believe. We were not going the New York City private school route because, you know, we don’t happen to have $35,000 a year floating around to pay for it.  That is not a random amount.  That is actually what private school costs.

But, there was one school we were looking at that was private. Turns out that about 20 miles from Manhattan, located in New Rochelle, New York, there is an all-girls Catholic high School called The Ursuline School and it is the sister school to Ursuline Academy in Cincinnati, Ohio. The very same Ursuline I attended and where I continue to visit and give Masterclasses and do a little fundraising with concerts on their behalf. I LOVE my high school. I am all-in when it comes to an all-girl education. My sister went to school there, two of my cousins work there, and my guess is most likely one (or more) of my former English teachers is reading this and auto-correcting my lackadaisical use of commas and dangling something-or-others. I mean, I am still wrapped up in this school despite it being 500 miles away.
So you get what I am saying, right? Charlotte Meffe is a legacy.  Scholarships.  Get it?

Ursuline Academy in Cincinnati.  Sister School.  Legacy.

Ursuline Academy in Cincinnati. Sister School. Legacy.

Oh yeah, baby. We were applying. And, uh, by “we” I mean “she” because this is about her and not me. But I am pretty sure I could still fit in my uniform skirt.

Given my sentimental attachment and lack of objectivity, I told Rob it was his responsibility to monitor my enthusiasms and make sure CHARLOTTE was interested in Ursuline, and not just me. And to double and triple check that she wasn’t just trying to make me happy, because she would do that.  It was nuts, we knew it going in, it was impractical and hard. It was expensive. It was a long shot. It would involve moving. If you know me well you know that this is the perfect storm of complications to really get me interested.

So why?  Why pursue an all-girls’ Catholic school in a far away suburb when Charlotte was being groomed to go to some of the best high schools in the country?  Have you seen the national high school rankings? All the big New York City schools are on there.  The Ursuline School in New Rochelle is not (to be fair, it–and other private schools do not qualify for the list.  There are–and I know this is shocking–strict requirements to qualify).  But why even look elsewhere?

This is a question that is fair to ask and let’s take a moment to talk about it.  It involves parenting a kid in New York City when you, yourself, are not a New York City native.

There are times when having a kid in the NYC school system is very cool.  Let’s break it down.

1) There is the whole “PS Some number” naming.  It is intriguing.  It sounds so much cooler to say “I go to PS 166” than “I go to Foxwood Elementary.”  Foxwood Elementary is for babies.  PS 166 is for cool kids who probably eat lox on their bagels at the age of 6 (I still will not eat lox.)

2) The other parents (for the most part) are interesting and have cool jobs like, “I own Magnolia Bakery” (a very famous bakery here, known for their butter cream cupcakes) so you know that at every parent event and class party there will be delicious food.

3) The class is full of diversity.  Not just kids of all color, but kids who actually just got here from Africa or Taiwan or New Delhi.

Then there are times when having a kid in NYC school system is not so cool.  Let’s break it down.

1) I already talked about the el crappo school schedule.  I neglected to mention that there is a “winter break” which is a week off in February, and then a “spring break” which is yet another week off in April.  Two weeks in miserable, awful New York weather with all the kids home and nothing to do.  Rich people go skiing during the first break and to a tropical island for the second week, but we go to the mall.

2)  You have to walk or bus or subway your kid to school.  There are a few school buses, but I don’t know the circumstances one needs to ride on one and we’ve never done it.  I mention this because when it is a 5 degree day in February and you have a newborn, you can’t just shove the kid out the door to the school bus while you stay blissfully in your pajamas.  Nope.  Everybody is up and dressed and walking around in the cold.  Sounds lazy, I know, but believe me when I say that some days the idea of a school bus stopping in front of my door sounds like heaven.

3)  The kids have a cynicism to them from a very early age.  They are smart and precocious, yes, but I also listened to an extended conversation about being an atheist from a group of sixth graders that would make your hair stand on end.  Highlights include, “What do you think happens when you die?”  “Who cares?  You’re just dead.” “The idea of God is so immature.  It’s like believing in Santa Claus.”  “I never believed in Santa Claus.”

Now look, I am not saying that there aren’t a ton of 6th graders out there exercising their right to think God is stupid,

Cheery.

Cheery.

but during this conversation I could feel Charlotte shrinking.  My girl has a glow about her and a spirituality, and miraculously, a lack of cynicism that was making her social life at school strained.  Seventh grade was bad.  It was enough to push me right into a New Rochelle suburb and an all-girls’ school without ever looking back.  Maybe her quantum physics would suffer, but at least she wouldn’t be totally lost in a school with 5,000 kids feeling like a fish out of water.  Sometimes we just want things to be…nicer and easier–not academically easier, Ursuline is a tough school–but easier living.  Slower paced.  Is that so bad?

But the question of the day……would Charlotte like it?  And would Rob even entertain the idea?  And what about Beatrix?

(Read more in blogisode five of School Daze coming soon!)

About Sharon Wheatley

Mother of Charlotte and Beatrix. Sometimes an actress. Sometimes a writer. I'm glad you're here.
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9 Responses to School Daze (Blogisode Four)

  1. cathi schellhous says:

    You are right. At least one of your past English teachers is reading this post!

  2. Julie Burwinkel says:

    Your former librarian is reading this and loving it!!!!

  3. Craig Schulman says:

    Sharon, I love your writing and stories. Too bad about the lox thing, though. You are a gem!

  4. Linda S in PA says:

    Waiting for your next blog is like waiting for the next hit book in one of the popular series to come out…."Good things come to those who wait" – right? As a Mom I can tell you that 7th grade for my daughter was a strain also. High school girls can be so mean – why? Is it easier for boys? I don't know I don't have one. I am rooting for a school for Charlotte that will not dampen her spirits!! p.s. I personally love the blue walls!!!

  5. TLT says:

    I am just feeling bad right now that I order my linens from Overstock.com and it doesn't matter what color they are-I just buy the cheapest. But we do have a school bus . . .

  6. Cathy Newman says:

    Hi Sharon! I’m Georga’s friend and a former Les Mizzer. We met at Georga’s after the Weston benefit last year. Anyhoo, the reason I’m writing, is because I was sitting in Cosi on 50th and a guy walked by outside who I was SURE I’d done a show with. I almost flagged him down. Then had to laugh out loud, because I realized it was your “gay husband” Jaaaaaaake! He’s famous now because of your Vlogs!!! Tee Hee! Had to let you know! xo

  7. Pingback: School Daze (Blogisode Three) | My Own Space

  8. Colleen Moloney says:

    Hi Sharon … I share your pain. We did all the crazy running around and research last Fall. Now we're waiting for the results. My son's school says the acceptance letters will be released on 3/15. And … I get to do it all again next year with my current 7th grader. ARGGHHHHH!!! Loved your blog :)

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