I took a deep breath, kept my voice calm and casual and answered.
"So," my child said, conversationally, "Guess who's Freshman class president?"
I whooped. Good news.
She had decided a couple of weeks ago to make a run for it. Carefully thought of her platforms:
1) Increased involvement of school in community events.
2) An anti-drinking, anti-smoking blitz. (She admitted that this was mostly for the teachers and administrators benefit, although she DID believe in it...)
3) Reduction of prom ticket prices. (Trickle down economics for when her class was old enough for prom...)
4) Reformation of the course registration system. (Truly an antiquated snooze fest.)
5) A crusade to bring more books to the school library.
And her biggest platform that was splashed on most of her posters:
6) Making the school green by 2017. (Thus the slogan: Vote for Liv and we'll be green by seventeen!)
I thought it was a good platform and Liv worked hard on her posters, baked chocolate chip cookies the night before as bribes and even had a website illuminating her reform ideas.
I carefully kept my nose out of the whole thing. Did not offer advice or ideas. Let my child fly on her own like the high flying kite that I know she is.
3 other girls wanted to be president too and Liv honestly felt that another, more popular girl, would be declared the winner. But, she was determined to give it her best shot.
She's been needing something to shoot for ever since her softball dreams hit the wall a couple of months ago because of a warped shoulder plate. I kept hoping that she would find some other extracurricular activity to sink her teeth into but she didn't seem too motivated. Finally, her doctor gave her the okay to try out for the basketball team when her shoulder showed remarkable improvement after only a month and a half.
And then, she casually announced at dinner one night that was considering making a run for class president.
"I have some good ideas," she said. "And you know, Mama, this is where my Montessori background comes in handy. I was taught that I can do anything if I am willing to put in the time and energy. That was a big Montessori motto."
Well. Gone were my dreams of her saying, "Mama, it is all because of you....your perfect parenting...the just right blend of firmness and freedom..."
Nope. It was Montessori. And that's okay. It is why I sent her there, for pete's sake. And if I'd had my druthers, she would STILL be in a Montessori school. But...no...I made the decision to let her choose her own junior high and she selected a Catholic one, to my intense discomfort. But, I stuck by my decision to let her choose and supported her. Then, if was on to high school and I kept my fingers crossed that she would go back to Montessori, but no...she chose a Catholic girl's academy. She loves the peace and tranquility of her school, it's high academic bar and yes, she finds Catholicism fascinating.
This is karma, I suppose. I left the Catholic church for good a long time ago and never looked back. And it is my just desserts that my one and only child is now fascinated with Catholic history. She finds even the rough parts intriguing: the selling of dispensations and the many, many children fathered by the (supposedly) chaste popes.
I admit that I do love the campus of her school. It is quiet and scholarly, the girls in their blue and green uniforms looking all pristine and smart. Liv says that she finds the atmosphere soothing and also exciting. That she is challenged on all levels and her favorite teachers are a priest who comes in the doorway dancing every day (sometimes polka or ballet...one day rocking out to Springsteen's American Land) and an English teacher who had them study iambic pentameter by reading Dr. Seuss books and finding a way to squeeze the words into form.
She's learning and loving it every bit as much as she adored her Montessori school. Maybe there is something for me to learn in this by curbing my closed mindedness regarding Catholicism.
And SHE WON, dudes. She is now president of her class.
When she called, she and Bing were loading up her posters into Bing's truck. One of the rules was that ALL posters had to be removed by the end of the day, win or lose. Bing had agreed to pick her up and lend a hand.
"Have you called Dad?" I asked.
"He's next," Liv answered. "I wanted you to be the first because you are the wind beneath my wings and all that
I laughed, touched.
"Shall we celebrate?" I asked. I wanted to stop on the way home and buy a giant cake and a big canister of confetti to shower her with, but held myself in. No. Liv is not fond of big fusses. She would prefer low key.
"Well," Liv answered,"Bing and I agree that we should stop and get some Chinese takeout. So, when are you leaving and we'll meet you at home for dinner."
I said now. I was leaving RIGHT NOW.
And I did.
I beat them home and set the dining room table and brought out a set of three pairs of chopsticks that had been Christmas stocking gifts a few years ago from our friends, Vince and Thuan. The family rule is that Chinese food MUST be eaten ONLY with chopsticks. Liv and Bing are incredibly adept at this. I have yet to get an entire bite into my mouth. I just sort of grab big clumps.
And then Bing and Liv came in laden with little boxes of almond chicken, chicken and mushrooms, shrimp and stir fried rice, crab rangoon, spring rolls and hot and sour soup.
We had a feast and then ate our fortune cookies and took turns reading them:
Bing:A secret admirer is now plotting to win your heart.
Me: A woman who seeks to be equal with men lacks ambition. Oh, yes...
and lastly, Liv: The dream is within you.
And it is. She is so full of promise. A whole life ahead of her. I wonder where her journey will take her? The life I plotted out in high school never really came to pass. I planned to be a spinster (yes, I am old enough to call it that) high school English teacher who went on far away trips every Summer to visit France, Italy, Ireland and India. I planned to have lurid affairs at every stop.
Instead, I got the life I have now. Bliss. Love. Warmth. Support.
So please help me salute our mademoiselle president.
Next stop: the White House.