i will follow

i spent all day watching episodes online of the gilmore girls. i don’t know why. but after the first few from the first season, i started to get nostalgic. i started to think about my own life, making that transition from public school to private school, though i was much younger than rory when i changed schools. well, not much younger. but i kinda remember being like her. of course, i wasn’t nearly as smart as she was, and i was nowhere as pretty as she was, but i could see similarities like where other girls in 6th grade were already wearing makeup and painting their nails and wearing bras and giggling about boys, i was just sitting there, focused on my schoolwork, actually DOING my schoolwork in class, while they just kinda looked over the shoulder at me and was like “eh.” i mean, they weren’t mean at all, in fact, a few times, a couple of them would stick up for me, but it was just obvious we just ran in different leagues. we were a small school, where everyone knew everyone, and i had a couple of friends i hung about with, but mostly, i just minded my own business. kept my head down, did what i was supposed to do, stayed out of trouble. everything just seemed routine–that’s just the way things were supposed to be.

towards the middle of my 6th grade year, i saw things start to change. the intermediate school in my district was a bit rough, and my parents were worried about me going there. especially in my 6th grade year, the school was in the news a lot because of all the gang-related violence that was going on. in fact, the boy i had a mini-crush on was involved in one side of that gang, and we kinda looked at him with awe. but anyway, i know there was talk among my parents about what to do. i know my dad, who went to a private school, was pushing his alma mater, while my mom, who went to public school, and as she likes to point out, “did just fine there,” didn’t see how we would be able to afford sending me to a private school, and though our intermediate was a bit scary, she said i’d survive. but they did try me out. i remember feeling such pressure because my dad went to that school, and he was so proud of that fact, and nothing would make him happier than to have his offspring attend the school. and i’m a person who doesn’t like to disappoint people, especially my parents! so for days before the test, i’d lock myself in the bathroom and just cry for the tremendous pressure i felt that i needed to get into this school. i HAD to. and then i’d start to doubt myself and think what if i don’t? my dad’s going to be so mad… and i’d just sit in the bathroom sobbing my eyes out. even on the day i had to take the test, i cried and cried and cried. i managed to compose myself enough that i could get in the car as my dad drove me up and was actually doing fine–until he started saying, “see how nice this school is? wouldn’t it be good to come to this school? all the opportunities you’d have…” and that made me start to sniffle, which made my dad mad. “why are you crying?” he shouted. which of course, just made me cry even more! so i got shouted at some more, with my mom trying to tell him that he’s stressing me out, and they dropped me off at the gym where lots of other bewildered children were, waiting to take their test, as well. i took a deep breath and walked into the gym–and straight into the bathroom, so i could wash my face 🙂 and calm myself down. then i walked into the testing area. i actually saw some of the people i had gone to camp with the year before, and some of my classmates from school, so i felt better. i went in, said a prayer, and waited for instructions. i looked around nervously and thought, wow. look at all these people applying. how many of them were going to get in? how many of them would i have to do better than so i could get in? i was so worried, but i was there, and i just kept replaying my mom’s words in my mind over and over — “even if you don’t make it, you’ll do just fine at public school. look at me–i did good. you will, too, no matter where you go.” that, to me, meant that no matter if i got in or not, she’d still love me. my dad wouldn’t 😀 … but my mom would. 🙂

then i kinda just forgot about it. the next monday, the others who were there had asked me how was it, and i said it was alright, and they were like yeah. but then i forgot about it, for about a month, until i got a notice that i had to go back for an interview now. yikes. i knew even back then that that was not my strength! but i didn’t cry at all in the days prior to my interview. my dad coached me with answers to questions they actually didn’t even ask, heh, so i guess i felt more confident. i just went in and smiled. i was able to answer all their questions, so i left feeling i didn’t do too bad. and then i forgot about it. that was january.

in late april, my dad went out to check the mail. i could hear a shout as he came back into the door, and we all wondered what was up, and we all ran to him at the door. he was standing there, with a big manila envelope in his hand, and a big smile on his face. i had no idea what that meant (not being smart enough to check out the return address to see who it was from) but my mom asked, “she got in?” and he said, “it’s a big envelope! they wouldn’t send a ‘thank you but no thank you’ in a big envelope!” he tossed the other letters to the side and tore open the envelope and pulled out the letter. i’ll never forget the smile that spread across his face. he was beaming. then he passed the letter to my mom. “you’re in!” he told me. “you did it!” i was stunned. my dad then ran to the phone and started calling everyone he knew to brag that i had gotten in. he even made my mom call her side of the family, even though she protested, “but they don’t care…” (and her family really didn’t 😛 ) she was happy for me, but i could tell she was worried about the tuition (she later admitted that she cried tears of joy when she got the letter saying i would receive a full scholarship to attend the school). i felt nothing but relief. rory was happy that she got in so she could further her education and have a better chance to get into harvard — i was happy because my dad was happy. heh. i guess we couldn’t be further apart.

i remember going to school on the monday that followed. the sixth grade classrooms were on the second floor, and as i walked with my little sisters to their classrooms, the popular girls called down from the 2nd floor, “so? did you get in?” i remember looking up at them–there were about 8 of them, all peering down at me–and shyly nodding. to my surprise, they all whooped and hollered, and called down, “congratulations!” wow. i even had my test results with me, because my atla teacher was interested in how i scored, since i said the language arts portion was hard. her jaw dropped as she saw my scores. all she could say was “wow.” i know she was as perplexed as i was with my score, because she knew as well as i did that i was not the best student in atla, and it was a wonder i even qualifed for atla! but in the following weeks, i noticed a change. while the other students talked about going to the intermediate school, i kinda felt left out, especially since now they were kinda talking to me more. when the 6th graders went on a field trip to the intermediate school so they’d know what to expect, i had to stay back with 2 others, one who i think ended up going to the same private school as our president, and i’m not sure where the other one went. i just remember staying back, and since all of us happened to be in atla, we just hung out in the atla room. it was then that it dawned on me that i wouldn’t know a majority of people who would be going to my new school–not like the others, who were all traveling together to their new school to check it out–i’d know no one! i started having mixed feelings. all my friends–as well as the boy i crushed on–were going to another school, and i wasn’t going to join them. what was going to happen?

unlike rory, i didn’t start late and had to catch up. we all started the same, so i guess i had it easier then. but like her, i managed to keep my focus and continue to do my work. after all, just because i got in, didn’t mean i’d stay in–i had to earn my keep. and i did end up doing very well at that school, and came to love and appreciate it for all it offered. who knew that soon, i would be feeling the same thing for my own son.

with my son, at first, i wasn’t going to apply him. in fact, i kinda took the same view as my mom–while it’d be nice if he went, it’d also be great if he stayed in public school–i teach at a public school, i should know! and again, look at my mom! but at the last minute, i did decide to apply him. and i learned from my experience and didn’t stress him out at all. i never even brought up the fact that i had gone to that school, and that he was testing to go to the school–“you’re just going to be playing a few games with aunty,” i told him–until after i had learned he got in. at first, i thought he didn’t, because i didn’t get a big manila envelope. i got the small white one. oh well, i thought. that’s okay. he’s doing great at his (public) school right now. and i was content to keep him there. the only reason i tried him was because it was my alma mater–it wasn’t like i was going to shop around for other private schools to send him to. but then i opened the letter, and saw the word “congratulations!” and i dissolved into tears. i felt that same pride my dad must’ve felt. my boy! at my alma mater! wow.

so now he’s following in my footsteps, as i had my dad’s. and i’m now following my dad’s as a parent, feeling that same pride, that same loyalty, to a school that took care of me and let me take off and soar. even amidst the controversies there, i will still follow.

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