A little over two years ago, Number 3 and 4 swam in a swim meet at MIT.
Number 3 was twelve years old, and Number 4 was eleven.
The meet was trials in the morning with the top twenty kids in each event coming back to swim in finals at night.
There were more than 25 teams from New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut at this meet.
As luck would have it, one of my college roommates and teammates was also at this meet with her son who is the same age as Number 3.
And in the last event of the meet, my son and my friend’s son were swimming right next to each other in the final heat.
My friend posted on Facebook:
When your college roommate and teammate’s son is swimming against your son at finals.
Another college teammate responded to her post:
Send him here!
He is the head swim coach at a private boarding school.
I jokingly mentioned this comment to Number 3 as he is not the kind of kid who would be at all interested in attending a school like this.
But Number 4 was.
She heard that and she said, I WANT TO GO.
She knew nothing about the school at that time. But the seed was planted.
And after a little bit of research, her mind was made up.
She was going to boarding school for high school.
And she was going to THAT boarding school.
If you have been following along here at Not Your Average Mom since the beginning, then you know that Number 4 has always been very… how should I say…
In fact, she was part of the impetus to start this blog in the first place.
I had a lot of good stories to tell, and more than 50% of them came directly from her.
She has always kept me on my toes.
But she has also always been very, very determined.
She is a hard worker who thinks outside the box (often WAY outside the box).
There have been lots of “remember that time when Number 4…” moments.
Like the time in first grade when she took $120 from her dad’s wallet to school for show and tell.
Or the time I lost her at the town beach only to find she had joined group swim lessons on her own.
There was the time when she was 6 and she broke her elbow in the middle of the summer.
She used that broken arm to her advantage, played up the sympathy card, and opened up the When Life Gives You Lemons Make Lemonade Stand at most of Number 3’s travel baseball games.
She made a shit ton of money that summer.
When my dad and Numbers 1, 2, and 3 all did a mud run/spartan race about a month later, Number 4 was not going to be left behind.
She was supposed to be seven years old to participate (she was a month shy, so I lied about her age) and she did the damn race with a broken elbow.
SHE LOVED IT.
When Number 7 was ten years old, she set a goal to be the fastest 100 backstroker in the state of Connecticut and to get onto the podium at Zones, a meet for the top swimmers on the east coast.
She did both.
As soon as she was old enough, she took the Red Cross Babysitters course, and a couple weeks later, she had her first, legitimate babysitting job, and now, at 13, she babysits regularly and makes enough money to pay for most of her own clothing.
When Number 4 sets her mind to something, it happens.
But I wasn’t so sure about boarding school.
Yes, I personally knew the swim coach.
But the swim coach doesn’t have a lot of pull in the financial aid department.
And we cannot afford a $60,000 a year private school.
That didn’t dissuade Number 4.
She was relentless about it.
Relentless enough that this past October, we scheduled an interview and visited the school.
Number 4 knew the only way she was getting in was with a full ride.
The chances of that happening were small.
Her interview was on a Sunday.
She was interviewed by the director of financial aid & associate director of admissions.
When she was done with her portion of the interview, my husband and I met with him.
He told us she did an amazing job in her interview.
I figured he told everyone that. I mean, nobody’s gonna come out of an interview and tell you your kid totally sucks.
The next day was the campus tour and visit.
We spent the whole day there.
We got to tour all the buildings and facilities, see the dorms, and sit in on an entire class.
Our group went to a French class.
Did I mention I was a French major in college?
Parents and students were split into two separate groups for the day. We didn’t see Number 4 again until lunch time.
And when we saw her, I knew it was over.
We were pretty much dead to her. 😂
She had found her place. And her people.
She truly felt at home.
When the tour was over, Number 4 had the opportunity to practice with the swim team.
Serendipitously, she had befriended another prospective student who was also a swimmer during the day.
The final stop/activity of the tour was an assembly in the auditorium. Parents and students all gathered for a question and answer session.
Number 4 sat very far away from us with her new swimmer friend.
And in a room full of a few hundred people, I sat next to a woman I had never met before.
As luck would have it, it was the mom of the swimmer friend Number 4 had become BFF’s with and was sitting with.
We left the campus that day in awe.
I’d never been to a place like that before.
It was amazing.
And it was perfect for Number 4.
I mean, aside from the 60K price tag.
Part of me was hoping she would hate it there once she visited.
That way, when we let her know there was no way in hell we could pay for it, she wouldn’t be disappointed.
She didn’t hate it.
She f&%$ing loved it.
We all did.
So we completed the application, and then we waited.
In the meantime, Number 4 worked her butt off.
She put good, hardworking energy out into the Universe. She maintained straight A’s and A plusses. She excelled in school and at cross country and in the pool.
We manifested the shit out of everything we could.
We talked about what life would be like when she attended this school.
We talked about all the things she would do when she was there.
We talked about how much fun the swim team would be.
We talked about all the things she was going to do her freshman year.
Not going wasn’t really an option we were willing to put out there.
The countdown to March 10th, the day admission decisions would be announced, began in January.
And today that day arrived.
But we didn’t have to wait until today.
We got a call last Friday.
Because scholarship recipients are notified a little earlier than everyone else.
Number 4 got a scholarship.
A full, 4-year, f&%$ing academic scholarship.
In the words of her acceptance letter,
Congratulations! The Admission Committee has reviewed your application, and I am pleased to offer you admission as a Boarding student in the Class of 2024. [Your School] received numerous applications this year, and your academic, extracurricular, and personal qualities stood out among a remarkably competitive pool of applicants. The committee was impressed with all you have done, and we are delighted to welcome you to our school community.
I also want to congratulate you on being selected as a recipient of the prestigious *** Scholarship. The *** Scholarship is awarded to an outstanding boarding-student applicant and includes full tuition, room, board, and a substantial stipend each academic year through graduation. This recognition places you in a select group of talented students.
She did it.
SHE DID IT!!!
Did I doubt her?
I’m her mom. And I’m biased.
But I can’t think of a more deserving kid to receive this honor and privilege.
All her stubbornness, all her precociousness, all her never-ending energy, all of her determination — all the stuff that I was sure was going to kill me when she was younger was the stuff that got her where she is today and where she’s going tomorrow.
How am I going to handle letting her go next fall when I thought I had four more years before this moment arrived?
I can’t even think about that right now.
But it’s okay. I’ll survive.
Because I know Number 4 isn’t just ready for this. She deserves it.
She’s worked so hard for it. And I am so proud of her.
While I’m going miss the crap out of her when she leaves, I’m super excited to see just how far she’s gonna go.
Because I know that for Number 4, this incredible opportunity isn’t the end of my journey as her mom.
It’s really just the beginning.