I hope that last week went well for you, and that some good things happened…..some nice surprises!!! I did one of my usual standard marathon times, travelling six thousand miles in three days to visit my children, dashing through three cities, from one of my home cities to the other. Fortunately, I sleep on planes, (and catch up on movies). Travelling can be very challenging, and I’m always grateful when it goes smoothly, without cancelled flights, long delays, or lost baggage.
And I had one of those “maturity-challenging” experiences, when I had dinner with my best friend, and he brought his puppy, an adorable little dog, and we were talking animatedly (with the puppy and one of my favorite purses I’ve had for years, wear often, and love, were under the table, and a man at the next table said, “Excuse me, the dog under the table is eating your purse”. Ugh. Sure enough, the puppy was happily chomping away on my purse, and when I rescued it, I saw that the puppy had made two holes in my purse. Boo Hoo!!) I know it sounds silly, but I was very sad about it. If that’s the worst that happens to me, I’m a lucky woman!!! I’ve had worse of course, we all have, but I do like that purse a lot. It’s a favorite (and I’ve managed to keep my daughters from stealing it for years!! They like it too!!). The next day, I went to four repair places, hoping to get it fixed, but they all told me it was irreparable. I love my friend dearly, like a brother, so I wasn’t mad at him, and the puppy is so cute, so it was just one of those things you have to be a good sport about. I wasn’t mad, just REALLY disappointed—-so if you ever see me wearing a green purse with two holes in it, and think ‘what’s wrong with her?? Why is she wearing a purse with two holes in it? You’ll know why. I was very grown up about it!! I didn’t cry, I didn’t get mad at the friend or the puppy. Things happen. Occasionally, the price of friendship—-and new puppies—is high!!! But my friend is much more important to me than an old purse, and the puppy is just a baby. Oh well……
Last week was an important week for many kids and parents in the US. A VERY stressful week for kids seeking to enter private high schools, and all universities, when acceptance letters landed in trembling hands. An important turning point for kids and parents alike. Setting aside the current college scandal in the US—–which in a distant way, I can understand people’s desperation to help their kids faced with the academic pressure cooker and high anxiety of a situation you are helpless to make better for them—-but losing their ethics, creating a situation where you break rules and laws, and ultimately sacrifice your child’s well being, set them an appalling example, and some parents have been arrested and will go to prison—-that I do NOT understand, nor the people who made money preying on those parental anxieties and misguided efforts to help their kids. (It has been recently revealed that some parents with a lot of money, paid dishonest well placed employees at some universities to falsify records, and manipulate results, so that some college applicants were able to get into colleges they couldn’t have been able to get into fairly. The whole sordid scandal has been exposed in recent weeks. Those kids won’t get into the desired schools of course, and both the parents involved and the people who took the money at the schools, are being prosecuted, and many will go to prison). In most cases, or maybe even all, the students had no idea what their parents had done, and wound up as the victims of terrible judgement and ethics on the part of their parents. It must have been a crushing blow to the kids. The whole thing is terribly wrong, and really sad, for the kids mostly, and the whole thing is really shocking.
But back to ‘normal’ kids and families who spent last week waiting for admission results to high school and college, for those who went the traditional, honest route to get in. Getting into school at any level is fraught with tension and uncertainty these days. It always was, but with fewer places available, and more students, there is tremendous competition now for everything from kindergarten to college. Parents can think of nothing else, futures are decided and affected by the results, and kids are nervous, stressed, and groomed, tutored, coached, helped, encouraged, threatened, and desperate to get into their first choice schools, and often convinced their lives will be ruined forever if they don’t get in. They take extra classes to help them pass standardized tests, and there is just an incredible amount of stress and tension waiting for the results, and a huge amount of pressure on the kids. And last week, all of those 8th grade and High School seniors got the results, some with shouts of joy, others with tears and sinking hearts. Some were wait listed at their favorite schools, which will prolong the agony for several months, maybe with good results in the end.
I have a theory about those results (first of all, that many parents put way too much pressure on their kids. There are lots of people who are successful in their lives, have great lives and careers, who did not get into their first choice colleges—-and some who didn’t go to college at all, or not particularly great schools. Your life is what you make of it, and what school you do or don’t go to isn’t everything in life. It matters, but not always as much as we think, and sometimes not at all.) My theory about it is that we are always, or almost always in our right place. The school we think is The Only One, and the right one sometimes isn’t, and sometimes NOT getting into that school is a bigger blessing—what the French call ‘un mal pour un bien’, a bad thing which turns out to be a good thing, even a great thing. We don’t know the blessings that will unfold, or the unexpected circumstances we can’t foresee, which turn out to be absolutely the best possible result that could have happened (which you may not even realize until years later, looking back). There is fate involved here, destiny, and things we just don’t know. So if you, or your child didn’t get into the high school or college of your choice last week, it could turn out to be the best possible thing that could have happened. So what looks like a disappointment could turn out to be the greatest opportunity of all!!!
And I can’t let today go by without mentioning that last Friday, March 22nd, was the third anniversary of the terrorist attack on the Brussels airport, where thirty two people died, and an enormous number injured. It was a family event for us, my nephew’s daughter was at the airport on that day, was nearly killed, and lost both legs at seventeen—-as you may remember. I can tell you now that after close to a year in the hospital, and many, many operations, and wonderful rehab, and the fact that she is an Incredible Remarkable, Fabulous girl—-since that day, she has graduated from high school, is attending college now, had rehab at the Navy Seals rehab facility, as the victim of a terrorist attack (and her mother is American)—-and she is back in training (she was an Olympic class rider, which is her passion), and she is currently training and qualifying for the Paralympics, on the Equestrian team. She is mind-blowingly brave and fabulous, with more courage than anyone I know. So I had to acknowledge that date. It’s a day we will never forget, and should be remembered, for the brave people who survived it, and those who lost their lives.
So have a great week, a safe, healthy, happy, fruitful, fun exciting one!!!!
all my love, Danielle
PS, Dear Christine thank you for your beautiful comment about your mother, and the passage from my book, which meant so much to her. Thank you with all my heart for sharing it, it means a great deal to me, and I’m glad the book meant a lot to her. Our journeys are all dark at times, it’s the nature of Life. We live for the good times, and live through the hard times and survive them. And dark things happen to us all. I’ve had my share of them too. Somehow we get through them, and they make us deeper and better—not easily but they do, and the good times are more powerful than the bad. I’m so sorry you lost your Mom, and thank you for reading the piece of my book.
And to Patricia, my very deepest sympathy about your son. Whatever age we lose a child at, it’s an almost unbearable loss, that somehow we have to live through, and still find meaning and joy in life. My heart goes out to you. I lost my son Nick at nineteen. He will be forever missed, loved and remembered. I often laugh when I think of him now, and remember some of the ridiculous, silly, and funny things he did (he did a lot of them). I hope that time will be gentle with you, and you will find some peace and meaning in the loss, from the love you shared with him. I send you both my love.
Please know that I cherish your comments and messages. I read them all, even if I usually don’t comment on them. My blessings, love, and prayers to you both. D.