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tiniest world

set the scene: we're trying to get paul into an elementary school other than our neighborhood one. we missed the magnet application deadline, so that left us with two options to get into that school -- apply for (1) a childcare permit (because this school is actually in cam's parents' neighborhood and cam's dad is going to be responsible for getting paul to and from school while we're at work) or (2) admission into the school's advanced studies program. when cam went to the school's office to pick up the applications, he was told to complete the second one first because that one had a deadline that was coming up soon. (the first one would be more of a last resort, anyway.)

with this in mind, we decided to move ahead on the second one. there was a brief application and paul's preschool teacher had to write a letter of recommendation. today we had an interview with a teacher and the school's principal and provide some samples of paul's work. (for a public school KINDERGARTEN. yeah, it blows my mind, too. maybe this is common, but this is my first kid in school, you know.)

nola was bawling all the way to school, so i was almost positive that i wouldn't be able to attend the interview -- a thought that had me almost in tears, too, because i feel like i've absolutely failed paul as a parent when it comes to school stuff. but the little girl came through for us and we had a great little interview.

paul dealt with the teacher while cam and i spoke to the principal. it was a little weird because i was trying to listen to paul while trying to tune him out at the same time so i could give the principal my full attention. i'm sure i smiled at weird times during the principal's spiel, but oh well. during the interview, she said something about my old old elementary school (the one i attended before the one where cam and i met) in passing to the teacher, which i filed away in my head but didn't think about too closely. i was busy trying to remember if the teacher was cam's parents' next door neighbor (turns out she is).

but then things took a very strange turn. if you've been reading this site for a while, you know that paul's last name is gracelastname-camlastname. (if you haven't, well, now you know.) the principal asked which one of us was camlastname -- cam said it was him. then she turned to me and said my name and said that i seemed really familiar to her and did i have a relative in education. nope, i said, smiling because i get "you look familiar" ALL THE TIME. (hello there, generic asian!) offhandedly, i thought to say that i went to such-and-such elementary school.

silence. i wondered if maybe i had heard wrong earlier and that she had no ties to that school.

the principal asked me when. i told her the years. and then it came out that she knew my brother. it was so weird. i told her that i thought her name was familiar, but i couldn't place it. (in talking to my mom -- who recognized the name instantly -- i learned that the principal had been my brother's 5th and 6th grade teacher.) i then was in the very unhappy spot of having to inform her that he had died 15 years ago. she said she was going to have to call another teacher (whose name i did recognize) to tell him.

who would have expected this from a kindergarten interview? welling-up tears, even. i've told lots of people about the ultimate fate of the original paul, but this time was especially hard because i was having to tell a former teacher who remembered a 10-, 11-year-old boy from 28 years ago and wanted to know how he was doing. "he had a very round face. i can see him." sometimes i forget that he had a life outside of us -- that he touched other people's lives and that people outside the family might actually remember him. i'm so used to inhabiting this world where i have to remind my mother of things he said and did.

i think the interview went well. from a proud mommy point of view, paul certainly showed his stuff (talking about tornadoes and his newfound love of spiders). from a cynical point of view, well, if paul doesn't get in now, maybe i should have worked my angle a bit harder.



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