Thursday, February 09, 2012

Over the rainbow....

Remember all that complaining I did in my last column about our girls, and how much work it is to be a mom, and how tired I am all the time?
Well, I take it all back.
Yeah, I’m a mom, I can do that. I can change my mind.
The reason I’m feeling all super sunny and happy-go-lucky is because we got Really Good News. The kind of Really Good News that makes a mom feel pretty darn good.
Oldest Daughter got her first college acceptance letter!
Start the wild applause and cheering now, please. Do the wave if you like. Give the person next to you a high-five. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
I usually whine about our girls in this column, but I figured I’d mix it up this week. Hey, if ever there was a time to brag, this is it. I think I’ve earned it.
So it turns out that Oldest Daughter likes to draw. She started with crayons, moved on to ink pens and then took up watercolors and anything else you can paint with.
And thanks to some crazy combination of genes, she’s actually pretty good. And no, I’m not just saying that.
Pause for more bragging here. Oldest Daughter once won a national drawing contest to design a NASCAR racecar with a prize trip to Walt Disney World. Additional bragging: A real-life Disney animator once did a double-take when he saw her drawing of Mickey’s head. In that moment, I am quite sure he envisioned the two of them working side-by-side in the Disney studios, happily churning out cartoons. He could say he discovered her.
So anyway, when it came time to apply for college, naturally, Oldest Daughter decided she wanted to go to a Distinguished Art School.
It turns out art and horses have one thing in common: Add either word to any activity and it means that the price of said activity usually doubles. Take art school, for example. A year at a private art school can cost the same as a year at Stanford or Harvard. Without the football teams. And the Nobel Prize winners.
But we parents must do our parental thing, which means we must encourage our offspring to reach for the stars and realize their dreams and all that.
We don’t wring our hands and talk about a little thing like money when they are listening. We don’t call our financial adviser to ask about penalties on 401(k) early withdrawals or discuss cashing-in life insurance policies in front of them. We refrain from suggesting community college as often as we’d like to.
Instead, we get on the art school bandwagon. We shake our 76 trombones and start marching down art school’s Main Street.
“Costs be dammed! Apply to art school you shall!” we declare.
Last week, my husband called me at work. I knew it was him by the number on my cellphone, but there was no response on the other end when I answered.
He sounded like he was choking. Or having a heart attack. I started to wonder if I should hang up and dial 911.
Are you OK? I yelled. What’s wrong?
Yes, he said.
No, he said.
Lo and behold, Distinguished Art School had written back. With a wavering voice, he read the letter to me: “We are pleased to offer you admission…”
I think I’m going to throw up, he said.
It got even better. Distinguished Art School said it wanted to offer Oldest Daughter a merit scholarship. Which means the cost of going to art school just went from being Impossible to being Slightly Less Impossible, as long as one or more of us doesn’t eat for the next four years.
It was a good thing most of my coworkers were at lunch.
I screamed.
Oh my God, I said.
I think I’m going to throw up, I said.
I had to see it to believe it. As soon as I got home, I read the letter. By God, it really did say that she has been admitted to Distinguished Art School! And they really do want to give her a scholarship!
Nothing puts a mom in a better mood than when a real-life college tells her that they want to give her daughter free money just to go to their school.
It’s like they’re practically paying her to attend, I marveled.
Hey, I don’t care if that scholarship is $500 or $50,000, it’s that many zeros less than we’d need to dig out of the couch cushions come this fall.
I spent the rest of that weekend in a “my daughter just got accepted to college” haze. I floated on a sparkling cloud of happiness surrounded by rainbows and unicorns, accompanied by the theme song to “Rocky,” alternating with “We are the Champions.”
Our two other girls must have thought their mother was on drugs. Whatever they asked for, I said yes.
It’s amazing. All that cajoling, encouraging, the endless nights of checking homework and making her study actually paid off.
Now we wait to hear from the other Distinguished Art Schools she applied to. Hopefully we’ll get more good news. More rainbows. More unicorns.
You done good, kid. We are so proud of you.

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