My daughter Emma was effected by the recent election in a profound way, so much so that it made her want to run for Student Council as 5th Grade Vice-President. She was hope in a jar, this kid, all confidence and pride. She wanted to run even though she knew she might lose and Barack Obama was her role model. The wrote a great statement of purpose and was ready to go. But something happened along the way – there was an information lapse between what she was supposed to know to run and what she knew. I watched the school’s administrator putting up the posters one morning, Emma of course, hadn’t even mentioned to me that she had to make one. The administrator was snippy about it. “Everybody knew this stuff,” implying that Emma knew but blew it off because I guess that’s the kind of kid she is? Something she wanted this much she would blow off?
Well then there was the news of one minute speech I found out from another parent. Emma wrote a draft and the next day checked with the snippy administrator to see if one minute was the time limit, “you’re very late,” the administrator said. But Emma took that to mean she had one day to write it but something didn’t right with me about those words, “you’re very late.”
Nonetheless, Emma had put up her beautiful poster with the words, “Emma Stone. Reliable, Friendly, Totally Awesome.” She had written a speech and worked on the speech. In all ways she could be ready, she was ready. But of course, when we arrived that morning and the kids were gathered on the yard, Emma had no idea she was supposed to have to turned her speech in the day before.
When I got there the kids were assembled. No Emma to be seen. I asked the snippy administrator why Emma wasn’t there and she informed me that “all of the rules that you signed” stated that the speech had to be turned in by yadda yadda yadda. Yeah, I signed it. Emma shoved it in my face and I signed it but I hadn’t read it. The day she showed it to me was Halloween and I was workined a school fundraiser, working at the school as an aide and helping Emma get her costume in order. I signed it and counted on Emma to know the details.
Alas, I knew it was a major fuck up for a kid who has them routinely. She is super smart but somehow doesn’t have that part of the brain that remembers things she needs to remember. So I knew she would be more than disappointed; she would be devastated. I walked up the three flights of stairs to her class and waved to her to come out. She held it together until she got out of sight of the rest of her class and then my poor girl sobbed. She let it all go in a way she never has before. This was going to be brutal.
Her teacher, her kindly teacher, helped me to put her back together to salvage what was left of the day. And now I have to walk that line between wanting to throw a pie in the face of the administrator and knowing that Emma wasn’t prepared to really be in the student council if she couldn’t get it together. My own mind wrestled with resentment and rage and a desire to figure out a way to make it better for her so that this doesn’t happen again.