Sunday, January 20, 2008

School crushes

In high school I had a huge crush on Stephen Lane. He was an adorable wavy-haired boy who played Frisbee on the school front lawn at lunchtime. As my girlfriends and I munched on rice cakes and sipped Capri-Suns, I watched Stephen jump and dive for the Frisbee. A friend lived around the block from him so I went out of my way to drive by his house, just because it made me feel good. I even called his phone number a few times and hung up as soon as someone answered. Stephen had no clue that I existed, but that was fine. I needed only to look at the guy to calm my screwy teenage hormones.

The other day, Stephen came to mind as I drove out of my way to pass Alice Fong Yu. I slowly circled around the school checking out the red-brick building, the garden at the top of the campus, the newer buildings housing the middle school. In fact, recently I've been going out of my way to pass AFY on a weekly basis. I tote the kids over to Arizmendi Bakery on Irving for pecan rolls on weekend mornings. I make a slight detour by AFY on the way to Golden Gate Park. For some reason, simply looking at the school eases the anxiety I have about this process. I've got a serious school crush.

Just this morning, I dragged the family over to Arizmendi Bakery so we could drop by the school. But today I needed more than a little look. I wanted to get closer.

"We're going to a new park," I told the kids, as we stopped the car in front of the school.

Of course, the school gates were closed and locked. I contemplated climbing over them, but Ryan, the more rational one, stopped me.

While I say that I'd be happy with any of the seven schools on my list, I mainly think about AFY. And I worry about my crush on this one school: my daydreams about what life will be like if my kids go to AFY, my desire to always go to Chinatown, my searches for home exchanges in China this summer.

It's been my experience that crushes typically end badly—and I worry that my obsessions sometimes blind me from reality and the truth.

I did eventually meet Stephen in college. And guess what? He was entirely boring.

But I wonder, Is Alice Fong Yu more than a crush? Could she be the one?


  1. I have a serious crush too...on West Portal. I have brought my kids to the playground next door to it. I hope this one doesn't end badly!

  2. We had a crush on a private last year this time. We wound up with the crush next door- a great public!

  3. It's funny, because my son's school's principal is leaving, and it really did give me the same bereft feeling you get when someone breaks up with you (and I swear I hardly know the guy on a personal level).

    However -- don't forget that there really is not just ONE right school for your child. She can fit into many settings.

    I went to a talk on college admissions a few evenings ago by Lloyd Thacker, a leader in the campaign to stop the college madness. He asked the audience to think back on our college days and then ask ourselves whether we could also have had an equally good experience at another college. In hindsight, of course everyone realized that we could have.

  4. I for one am finding myself following any news I can find of the middle school on the top of our list (Aptos) after months of looking at all the others....and we did drive by there recently, though we had a totally other reason to be there anyway, but of course I said aloud, "and there's Aptos!" Funny. It's a little like Internet dating.

    One other phenomenon: I am finding myself feeling sad about leaving our friends from elementary school as it is clear that some put the same top choice but others chose differently. I have a younger kid still at the elementary so will continue to see many families who also have younger ones, but nevertheless, there is some sadness.

    On the other hand, I have also heard that some of my daughter's friends from preschool who attended different elementaries have put down similar middle school lists, so she may be reunited with them after six years.

    San Francisco is really like a small town in that sense, especially for kids. I sometimes think my daughter has already met all the 5th graders who exist the city through preschool, elementary, sports and arts programs, park and rec programs, summer camp, and afterschool programs (ours is GLO, which has combined winter/spring break camps for Fairmount, Alvarado, AFY, and West Portal, so we have met a LOT of kids that way). I mean, she hasn't really met all the kids of course, but it feels that way sometimes.

  5. though AFY is no. 1 for us too, i keep reviewing our list of 7 in my head so i'm not disappointed ... IF we get any of them in the first place! (many of our friends didn't get any of their 7 choices last year, even after they deliberately avoided going for all the popular schools!)

    but i still get pangs of anxiety at the thought of getting one that starts at 7:50, but we had 'em on our list so i better be prepared!

  6. oh god this admission is funny. I too was constantly doing the circuit last year, driving past the different schools, imagining what our new life would be like if we got this school over that school. Of course I was fairly certain we'd get Flynn, our first choice AND neighborhood school, but it was a meditative exercise somehow driving past those schools!

  7. Funny, I'm driving by our middle school and wondering if we'll be there next year.

  8. ^^Thanks!!