Last night I made a difficult phone call.
"Hi Honey, it's me," I said to Ryan on my cell.
"Yeah, I'm on my way. I'll be home in about five minutes."
"Well, I got the time mixed up," I nervously told him. "The bus left at 5:30, not 6:30 p.m. I'm so sorry. I misread the invite."
"You know I'm busy at work and I left early . . ."
"We can still drive over to Marin and go to the panel thing they're having. Maybe one of us can ride the bus back to the city. I'm so sorry."
"It's okay. I'm almost home. I love you," he said.
On Thursday night Marin Country Day School hosted an Informational Evening for parents of applicants. Before the event, San Francisco moms and dads were invited to ride the school bus from Crissy Field to Marin. It's a way to experience the bus ride, which seems to be the most anxiety-inducing aspect of this school for interested San Francisco parents.
I had signed us up to take the bus but I got the time confused so Ryan and I missed the boat—again. This time it was due to my absent-mindedness—a good lesson for me who had gotten upset at my husband for forgetting about a major MCDS deadline. (Now I'm feeling badly about my earlier post that picked on my husband who often stops by the bakery on his way home from work to buy me a chocolate-chip cookie, makes me oatmeal in the morning, rubs my back when it aches, brings home roses whenever he goes to Costco, and always says, "I love you" before getting off the phone, even when he's annoyed.)
Since we missed the bus, we drove to Marin—yet another panicked drive across the bridge. En route, I was thinking, "We could never send our kids to school in Marin and live in the city. This commute would kill us."
When we finally entered the MCDS multipurpose room, some 100 parents were watching a movie on a huge screen. Arriving to a movie late is uncomfortable when it's simply at a multiplex, but at a private school function it's downright nerve-racking. I walked to the back of the room (there weren't any empty chairs) thinking, "We're never going to get in. They must think we're the biggest flakes." But nobody gave us any disapproving "your late" looks. Rather, we got a lot of welcoming smiles. I started to relax.
We caught the end of the video—humorous, touching footage of MCDS students in action. Then the head of the lower school Barbara Kraemer-Cook talked about the second graders' study of San Francisco Bay, conveniently located across the road from the campus. Barbara told a story about a nature photographer, Dennis Anderson, who did a presentation for the second graders. The students were so inspired that they decided they wanted to study the Bay through photography. The tech teacher tracked down digital cameras for all the kids who then went on to photograph the Bay. They eventually put on an art show at the Bay Area Discovery Museum.
Next: a panel of current parents lined up and the audience threw out questions. Of course, the panelists all gushed about the school. The easy commute from San Francisco to Marin. The wonderful parent community. The amazing teachers. The good-natured students. And then a prospective parent asked, "So what's wrong with the place? What do your children complain about?"
"The food is too healthy," a woman on the panel responded, "That's the only thing my kids complain about."
Another panelist added that her children love their school—but they're kids and like all kids they have their problems. They get in conflicts with their friends. They struggle with homework.
This opened the door for other parents to share. A mom talked about her son with ADHD. Another described her child's conflict with a teacher.
They brought up typical kid issues—but with every story about a struggle, there was a story about the school and staff and parents working as a team to deal with the kid's issue. They talked about how the school didn't see problems as problems but as opportunities to grow. They talked about how everyone at the school was open and they were able to talk about things. The panel's open discussion was a perfect example of this. It was real.
I rode the bus back to San Francisco. Ryan followed in our car. The ride was fast, smooth, and relaxing. As we headed out of the rainbow tunnel and down the hill, the Golden Gate came into view and then the city's glittering lights. Not a bad commute, I thought.