Won’t You Come In?

Scanning my RSS feed as I do when I get a free moment to catch up on my blogs, I read an old favorite, A Little Pregnant. When she described how her son, just entering kindergarten, had a “home visit” from the kindergarten teacher prior to the start of school my mental Foley kit played the record needle scratch–whaaaaat?  Is that done now?  My “WTF” radar immediately went up and I thought about commenting with my own rant until I read the comments.

As always, her commenters were enormously insightful; this is definitely not a black and white issue.  One said after explaining how this seems akin to a social worker visit at the hospital post-birth (“Do you have help, do you have a safe place to go?”) and being able to see the child at home is so helpful.  You can’t draw much from a 15-20 minute visit, but you can definitely get a feeling if something just isn’t right.  As she then put it, “We are not the droids they’re looking for.”  And many of the actual teachers who read mentioned that at their home visit, it’s all about meeting the kid on their turf and lessening the child’s fears and worries about this adult with whom they would be spending their days.  That is all completely valid, useful, and important.  Moreover, that kind of concern is a kindness, and “above all else, [a la Kurt Vonnegut in God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater] you have to be kind” is the main value we want to instill.

But still…ick.  Ick.  Double ick.

It comes back to the same reaction I felt when I heard that Hawaii was going to furlough teachers on Friday, cutting the school week to 3.5 days (many towns have half-days on Wednesdays for…something. Teacher enrichment? Planning? I have no idea). So you can imagine what kind of strain that put on families who had to now figure out alternate childcare in a state that’s already at the economic breaking point. That has since been resolved but my first thought was “This is our tax system. These are our schools. The citizens of Hawaii should not have to work their lives around to fit the system; the education system exists to serve the public.”

Now, I’m pretty liberal. I like the idea of my taxes going to fix things, provide public services, what have you. But this edges into a watchdog kind of mentality that I’m not totally comfortable with. I get that I’m “not the droid” but I’ve worked with children before. You don’t have to see their home to know when things are fucked up at Ye Olde Homesteade; it comes out in a thousand little but completely visible ways.

I have no problem meeting the teacher, but the post didn’t mention whether it was optional or not to go somewhere else–maybe for coffee or a smoothie at the kid’s favorite shop, or a favorite park, or a mutual agreed upon meeting spot. I’d be totally fine meeting at the playground or our local Jamba Juice. Because if it *has* to be at home, that’s where I really feel uncomfortable. Teachers are human; they judge and have biases just like me. Just like anyone. I’m not about to give a perfect stranger a tour of our bedrooms and I’m not going to plant things that aren’t usually in the living room for appearances, so when a person walks into our house they’re going to see an LCD TV, about 200 DVDs, a few books high out of reach, my wine rack, and a real shabby couch. Unless Maggie brings them out, the teacher isn’t going to see her art notebooks (which she has already so enthusiastically filled with scribbles), the handmade toys, and the stocked bilingual library. Worse…what if she isn’t an “Arrested Development” fan?! What if she–rightly, I might add–summed us up as post-grad hipsterish snark addicts with a fondness for unpretentious cabernets and she likes “Friends” reruns and doesn’t drink? How would that affect her relationship with Maggie? It might not, but it may, and even in a way that the teacher doesn’t realize is happening.

And the final point I’d like to make is that even if these visits are required by the school district, the parents that have things to hide are going to stall, ignore, screen calls, or just flat out refuse to let the teacher in. So if I refuse on general principle, like feeling icky about the visits in general, that lumps us in with a category that is labeled difficult at best and with something awful to hide at worst.

So, yeah…if Maggie attends school (the debate over long-term finances and homeschooling is happening in fits and starts over here, but it is happening–at least, Tom hasn’t flat-out refused me yet ;-D), I want her to meet her teacher and feel comfortable. I want it to be a cooperative relationship, honest and happy and open, the kind that makes me enthusiastic about classroom volunteering and happy to tuck a nice big Target gift card into her Christmas card.

But I hate the idea of the school district telling me I am required to invite someone into my home, and I hate if I refuse on the basis that they don’t get to tell me what to do, I’m going be labeled difficult or shady. It seems as though my right to say no would automatically taint Maggie’s relationship with her teacher before it even starts, and that just isn’t right.

Countdown

In four days, we will be in Seattle.  A week from today, Vancouver.  And a week from Monday, back in Hawaii after a grueling-but-awesome five and a half month runaround.

I swear to you, Internet, I am going to sleep through the rest of August. We’re not even going to go to the other side of the island. And if I find a grocery delivery on-island, we’re not going to even leave the house. My brain is so deep-fried tired that I can’t bring myself to sit down and get into the routine, and as such my writing has gone stagnant for the moment. To not have a regular creative outlet is horrible for me and for Maggie too; I have a billion product ideas for Examiner, god knows I have a LOT I could be pitching to family travel websites, and in the background percolating in my head are a bunch of ideas for trying to figure out a way for us to homeschool Maggie and the as-yet-unconceived 2.0. But the words aren’t quite gelling together right now.

[Side note on having another child. Me: "I think I'm ready for another, Maggie's old enough, we have a name we agree on, it's time." Tom: "Well, see if you can wait until we're in the same state." ...Twit.]

I’ve been reading so much on the Montessori and Waldorf and unschooling educational models and equal amounts on the general failure of a lot of public schools and now I am obsessed with creating a curriculum for our kids at home. This is INSANE, people. I’m already going a little crazy at home, but so far my experience is that I’m better at being a mom than I have ever been at anything else. Which…yeah. I’m not even saying I’m such a great parent, but I feel best about myself when I think I’m doing right by my kid. So why not see if we can find a way to run with it?

This is also a good way to distract myself from not thinking about how busy our fall is going to be. We’re signing up for Stroller Strides again once I get my house back together, toddler Spanish on Saturdays and possibly family music lessons on Sundays, baby yoga on Mondays and then babywearing and LLL once a month. I am determined to bust out of my antisocial grumpy shell and give Maggie some socialization (and me too).  I will also secretly be trolling for trustworthy types to babysit my kid so Tom and I can go see a movie and eat food that we don’t have to cut into teeny pieces to share. For my own sanity, I’m looking at starting Bikram once a week to get out of the house sans Maggie.  I’m going to a wedding in Vermont this fall (by MYSELF, holy shit) and we are taking a big trip in late October/early November.  Oh, and sometime between December and March…we’re moving and leaving Hawaii forever. And we don’t know when we’ll move, to where or for how long.

So you can see why I am spending my free time scanning Etsy for pretty Waldorf toys and, you know, not writing or thinking about a damn thing.

2010 has been a total kick in the junk for tons of our friends and comparatively, I can’t complain. We’ve only been mildly inconvenienced at best. But it has been an endurance marathon and I nearly burst into tears last Sunday flying from Manchester, NH back to Tampa when I realized I’d have to get Maggie to Seattle by myself, with a stopover in Denver and at a lousy time of the day for her schedule. It’s just.one.more.time. I can do it. But I’ve been counting down the days until I don’t have to do this alone anymore. Real single parents: a hug, a tip of my hat, and a standing offer of free babysitting to you. This is the hardest grind I’ve ever gone through and I only have one child and a vast network of family support.

Most importantly: four more days until Maggie can see her Daddy and I can see my favorite person in the world. It’s going to be awesome.

I feel better already!

With the weekend news about the infant Tylenol recall, I went looking for more homeopathic remedies. I did so on Facebook fan pages and with my old friend, Dr. Google. Big mistake. Now, I guess some people would consider me a crunchy hippie mom. Others would probably think of me as mainstream. I don’t know. I never thought about it long enough to give myself a label. I’m just trying to do my best. But some of the comments, some of the attitudes I see in my research, it’s just so upsetting. So hurtful and judgmental; so angry at “mainstream moms.”

Reading some of the comments, I was really beating myself up for using a commercial painkiller to help Maggie’s teething. I actually was tearing up, I was so upset. I don’t know what I don’t know until I look, and some of these women would make you feel terrible for even asking why they think some action is wrong. I got good tips from a very sweet, non-judgmental friend, but it bugged me terribly.

I’m just exhausted. Truly, bone exhausted. I’m tired in my soul. It was too much to read; thinking that so many would hate me for using commercial products without questioning them. Like I said, I don’t know what I don’t know and it’s just me here until Tom gets home. Was I wrong for wanting something to be simple right now when right now is so hard?

It was breaking me up, these mothers and their opinions, until (if I may paraphrase Good Will Hunting) something occurred to me, I fell into a deep sleep, and I didn’t think about it again until I sat down to write this.

They don’t want us to change.

Now, for all the high-minded talk about changing attitudes–wishing more moms would wear their babies, serve organic food, question authority, whatever–it isn’t true. Take babywearing, for example. If everyone wore their babies, it would be awesome for the kids. But who would ask these mothers for their opinions? Who would ask them for advice? No one. They wouldn’t be able to look upon mothers with strollers and say “My choice is better.” Not all mothers do this. Not even most. But enough do.

It seems to me that these women have no identity outside of their motherhood. Their kids are all-encompassing. They consider themselves superior, and their superiority is their shield. They are in love with “being right,” “doing right,” and if everyone did what they did, how could they be superior to other moms? They couldn’t. They love their elitism as much as they love to tear down others. The worst thing in the world for them would be if we all acted as they would like, because then they could no longer believe that they weren’t just like everyone else. They would become the mainstream. And to them, that’s worse than seeing a “mainstream mom” in action.

I’m doing my best. Most moms are. But my best isn’t someone else’s best. That’s okay. I only have to answer to Maggie.

And she’s awesome.

Viva Florida!

So I live in Florida now. Let me explain.

Wait, is too long, let me sum up: I didn’t leave Tom and we aren’t getting a divorce.
Okay, now the long version: Maggie and I are doing some extended visiting with our families. My parents and grandparents happened, in a brilliant moment of familial serendipity, to buy homes in or within five minutes of Tom’s hometown. The majority of Tom’s family still lives here. So in an effort to get our little girl more accustomed to her family and strengthen the bonds between grandparent and child and also eat a lot of Cuban sandwiches by the pool, I’m here with the baby until the end of July.
I spent my first day lying by the pool while Maggie took an extra-long nap and then read some blogs while my mother and Tom’s dad insisted on taking her for a walk. Those were possibly the most delicious 20 minutes OF MY YEAR.
I have a big photo roundup post prepared from our trip to the DC/Baltimore area, but I am bone-achingly exhausted. Just let me say this: you can prepare to travel with your child. You can prepare plans, you can make arrangements for their comfort. But you can’t fully realize how much travel will take out of your child until you arrive. It is the biggest crapshoot when traveling with a baby, one that can make your trip a delight or, to continue Princess Bride-ing you, break you on The Machine until you are more than mostly dead.
We had a good time, overall, but at the moment we are mostly dead. At least I am. Tom, being without wife or child to slow him down, is likely spending tonight drinking the beer I left in the hotel, calling room service for extra pillows, and passing out facedown in his new fluffy fort.
Maggie in particular is a red-hot mess of separation anxiety, smashed sleep schedules, and…how do I put this delicately…Belly Troubles. I feel nothing but wrenching guilt every time she cries these days, because it is almost always the pissed-off shrieks of confusion and disorientation. It will get better. I know it will. But for now…I need a Miracle Max. Or failing that, a decent night’s sleep in my childhood bed.

Blorf

Perhaps this was inevitable and forseeable to everyone else, but the winery road trip was cut seriously short with a sudden fever spike and copious vomiting (Maggie) and a need for a total wardrobe change (me and Tom). Unfortunately we were all the way out in Loudon County at the time and had to make our way back to Columbia with our sicky-sick little puppy girl. She dozed off and on like a smoldering little lump next to me on the bed from the late afternoon until about midnight with a brief period where she wanted to play around eight, and then slept hard from midnight to ten this morning.

I feel really guilty and awful. I had no idea the flight and jet lag and moving around so much would be so physically hard for her. People travel with kiddos all the time. But I should have, I should have known, or at least thought about the possibility. She was so pitiful last night, fever-bright and glassy-eyed in a little ball next to me, allowing me to rub her back and belly and snuggling up in a way that she never would if she were totally well. Maggie managed to throw up on her dad and then when he passed her off, she got sick on me. I think it says a lot about the thresholds you’re willing to cross as a parent when you whisper soothingly “Okay honey, there there, get it all up–throw up into my shirt, get as much as you can on me and not the floor.”

And oh, GAH, I am so frustrated with her total and utter refusal to use a cup or bottle! Maggie has gone from seeming to not understand the purpose of a cup to flat-out shunning them. At best she flips the cup and absently chews on the bottom, unmindful of the liquid flying everywhere; at worst she pushes the cup away while crying. Only twice has she voluntarily put a cup to her lips and shown interest in consuming the contents. So no cool water or helpful Pedialyte for my little red-hot, and we’re nursing a ton to keep her hydrated.

She’s almost completely rejecting all solid foods in favor of nursing, too. I’m guessing her belly is feeling sensitive and since she can’t articulate that, she’s rejecting solids (either by throwing them on the floor animatedly or pushing spoons away with lips sealed tight) until she feels right again.

We noticed her nap schedule regressing to two naps a day almost immediately upon arrival, and now she’s nursing at a rate that I haven’t seen since she was five or six months old. Her poor little body is trying the best ways it knows to heal itself and try to recover and we feel absolutely terrible for her. We didn’t know. But we should have.

And now reading back over this, I’m starting to get paranoid that we’re raising a total brat-tastic kid with the pushing away the food and cups and screaming when we try to get her to use a glass but that’s just how tired I am. She’s not even eleven months old, she’ll use a cup eventually and usually her diet is fantastic. This is just a weird period, compounded by one of my first bouts of capital-G Guilt about a decision that we’ve made. Being Daddy and Mommy Monkeys is a hard job.

Lagging

Our first few days in DC have been a disaster.

Oh, everything’s fine during the day–lots of friends to see, things to explore, and so on. The National Building Museum in particular has a lovely play room for kids that Maggie loved, and lots of open space to tumble around when the weather outside is icky.

The jet lag, however, is kicking Maggie’s be-diapered behind all over the Beltway.

Tonight is the third night of Maggie suddenly awakening at 11, screaming blue murder, and not being able to stop despite nursing, bouncing, singing, and other comforting techniques. In desperation, Tom even took her for a drive last night and she was up and screaming the second her head hit the crib. The people in the rooms on either side are pounding on the walls, it’s so bad. Guys, I have been on the listening and now on the in-the-room end of the crying baby at four in the morning and it is SO MUCH WORSE IN HERE. To you wall-pounders out there, let me apologize and then let me tell you to suck it. Be grateful you can just put in earplugs. I’m sorry, truly, but I don’t know how to make it stop and she really isn’t normally like this. If I could make it stop, I WOULD.

Um, I might be feeling a little raw and defensive. My nerves are a mite frayed, as you can imagine.

So does anyone have any advice? I’m guessing that in addition to the jet lag, the room itself is freaking her out. It looks weird to her, the new pop-up crib is noisy and we were given a room with two doubles instead of a king bed by accident, so co-sleeping is just NOT an option. We’ve been getting her into the mid-day sunshine, sticking to the routines…nothing’s helping. We’re going bonkety-bonk-bonkers.

HALP.

Breath Held

I wrote this earlier today: “Eerie: the sound of 900,000 people holding their breath.”

The tsunami warning ended up amounting to nothing at all, thankfully, but that was a hell of a way to wake up. I had roughly 20 voicemails/texts awaiting me when I awoke at 6am; I thought the baby was up because she was hungry but now I think she woke up with the town’s emergency sirens. Those rang out every hour until the late morning. The live-cam on Waikiki showed that the water had retreated out past the sand bar and reef and we got really worried.

A lot of our friends on the coast were evacuated and given doomsday information; one wrote that their house was dead in the path of the inundation area and would have been completely wrecked had there been flooding. Everyone we know who was evacuated was evacuated sometime between 4am and 6am; they got back home mid-afternoon.

It was creepy, how still the town was. Everything was so quiet and all the reports from the road were dead. Everything had been cleared and evacuated. There were people tailgating in our town’s center waiting to go home and picnicking on the side of parking lots, waiting to know if we were going to be Southeast Asia or an overreaction. Counting the other islands, it was a million people holding their breath, the sound of a silence as heavy as a lead apron.

My main concern was the airport. Would Tom get back from New Zealand? (He emailed moments ago, when he discovered the free internet at Sydney but I had no way whatsoever to contact him.) If he was delayed in Sydney, would I still be able to fly out to DC on Monday? Making a decision that should surprise no one who knows me, I decided come hell or literal high water, I was going to get Maggie and me back to the mainland and I didn’t care how or what I had to do, but I was going to get us on a plane to DC. And furthermore, I was going to finish my pre-packing to-do list and I would create a washboard out of my wooden IKEA wine rack and hand-wash my underthings in the tub if I had to. Mother-fuck the tsunami; a tidal wave wasn’t going to keep me from fresh socks.

You totally want to be in a natural disaster with me. Anticipating major power outages (which didn’t occur), I busted out as much laundry as I could, filled all our water bottles and a few jugs of water and filled the tub in case we needed extra cooking/flushing/wash water. I also prepared several days worth of ready-to-go meals for Maggie and popped them in the fridge. This took all of an hour, then I put on coffee for any houseguests coming up to the central plateau for a tsunami evac party. The only problem was that I fell asleep before the first warnings were issued last night, then the baby was napping and I had so much laundry to do that I had no time to get beer for guests. But it all worked out okay.

Thankfully it was just a fantastic fire drill and aside from Maui losing their water for a while, there was no damage or injuries. But man, it was scary for a while. Knowing I had no way to contact my husband, that I would need to pull this together on my own. Knowing my friends’ homes might be in very real danger. Hawaii’s my home, the only place I could love more is Maine, and I was scared it would be hurt.

But it’s okay, no waves and no harm, and I learned a lot about figuring things out on my own. One of the big overarching fears in my life as a (temporary, contingent upon economy) stay-at-home mom is “What happens if something happens to Tom?” Can my skills support my daughter? Will I be able to manage our finances well enough to give our daughter everything she deserves? Will I be able to see clearly enough in an emergency to see what needs to be done and do it in an efficient manner?

Today I realized I can do it. In a short-term crisis and over the long haul, I can find the will and the way to take care of this family on my own. And once I realized that, I finally could let out my breath.

Avoidance

There are only 19 more days until we leave for the East Coast for four months. I started making checklists and then realized how long I’m going to be spending in a plane between now and August. Specifically, how many flights up and down between DC, Florida and Maine I will be taking with the baby. By myself.

Befittingly, I have taken to my couch and am fanning my face in a wan sort of way. I don’t really want to think about the logistics of packing up. We can buy anything we forget, I suppose, but that seems really wasteful. Thus, the checklists, which fly in the face of my normal state.

To give you an idea of how organized I am on a normal day, I should tell you about our lemur. Someone gave Maggie a plastic lemur from the movie “Madagascar” that plays “I Like To Move It (Move it!)” when you hit it hard enough. (I don’t get it either.) It’s lost in my car, so every time I go over a bump–and this is Oahu, so there are many–my car sings “I like to move it move it, I like to move it move it, you like to–MOVE IT!” The lemur serenede is sort of quirkily charming, I suppose, but I am the sort of person who keeps a car in which singing lemurs can become lost.

I know I *can* get organized enough for a four-month trip, but it’s really a matter of will triumphing over nature. We’ll be staying with my parents in the Tampa suburbs, so it’s not like we’re being exiled to Siberia; I just hate the idea of inefficiency and wasting money, so we’ll have to carefully plan and balance as to maximize resources and minimize weight while also minimizing the need for excessive purchases in Florida.

You can see why I’ve taken to the couch in the fetal position watching daytime HGTV, something I never usually do. (Has anyone else seen “Holmes on Homes”? It’s horrifying; I think of these people who lose their shirts thanks to incompetent contractors and I want to cry and rent for the rest of my life.) How do military spouses do the logistics for moves and deployments for months and sometimes years at a time? It takes a special person, I tell you. I’m just too whiny for that kind of thing.

On the upside, I think I may have enough credits built up on Southwest by the end of our trip to go somewhere for free with the baby. The peanut gallery: “All that whining and she wants to add a trip?!” Shut it, peanuts. What can I say? I love to travel, and I’m hoping that Maggie will love it too. Otherwise she’s in for a long childhood.

For Gavin

They say that there are no atheists in foxholes. To wit, in times of extreme fear, one is persuaded to believe in a higher power. To believe in the impossible. To ask for a miracle.

For a parent, the foxhole always contains our babies. As my relationship with Maggie grew, I understood that I would do anything for her. One day I read the question “What would you do for your children?” I very calmly and dispassionately thought, without hesitation, “I would do anything for her.” My organs, my body, every penny I have, my own life. I would happily die if I thought it meant she would live.

Fortunately for Natalie Norton, she does not suffer the same waffling belief that I do. She is as devout as I am questioning. I had the pleasure of meeting Natalie last year for a photo workshop and while we aren’t close, she is someone whom I would have liked to become better friends with during our time in Hawaii. Her work is amazing; she complimented a surfing photo I took last month and I nearly popped with joy.

But she is in the foxhole tonight. Her son Gavin is deeply, gravely ill with RSV complicated by whooping cough, pneumonia, and a blood infection. I follow her on Twitter and have been reading the updates on Gavin for the last week. He is not even three months old, too young to have received the pertussis vaccine that might have spared him the further complications before he was exposed to the disease; he is fighting for his life in the PICU thousands of miles from home.

The Norton family’s faith is amazing to behold, even to an avowed humanist/agnostic like me. And I know that if she or her husband could, they would trade places with Gavin in a microsecond. But since they can’t, they draw peace from their belief that Jesus has done for them what they would do for Gavin. They have asked their social media network for prayers, for an outpouring of faith for their son. So for them, I’ll make a very rare request: pray. To whatever deity you recognize, to your spirit guide or Jesus or Buddha, or just think positive thoughts.

In Natalie’s own words: Gavin needs a miracle to live. I am unwise in the ways of the universe and full of doubt. But this time, I am willing to believe that there is a miracle out there with his name on it. Let’s get him there.

And to the Norton family: from a mother whose heart is breaking reading about another family’s crisis, from a mother who would gladly take her daughter’s place in the isolette if she could, my thoughts are with you.

Edu-ma-cation

Some people think that eight months is too young for preschool considerations. However, I have a valid reason for researching programs now, and it isn’t what you might think. (I only care a little bit about getting Maggie into Harvard.) We’re done with Hawaii by the end of 2010, and Maggie will be of nursery/preschool age in 2011 or 12, depending on the school. Knowing what our options are in the locations we’re considering will go a long way toward deciding where we may go next. I am doing similar research into birth options for the McConnell V.2.0 product launch–as yet unscheduled, no upgrades planned, but the creators hope for a similarly user-friendly interface.

It is here that I must stop and remember my parents, who had nothing but our best interests at heart. Mom did her thing on instinct; I don’t recall seeing any parenting books around, and with no internet to (confuse) (frustrate) assist with research she just did what she thought was best. I think we turned out dandy. But she was the original free-range parent; we were encouraged to go outside and exercise, we had sports and dance lessons but lots of unstructured play time, our toys were designed to educate and stimulate creative free play, and little TV.

We also had jobs: we did office work with her and we were responsible for helping to clean up the house. We used to go into work with her often at the family convenience store, stocking shelves at the store and punching buttons at the register to the delight of the regulars. I remember proudly pounding an ink pad and stamping the company logo to endorse checks, and also proudly stamping everything in sight the day I found her novelty “Bullshit!” stamp. Sometimes we got to pick out candy or bubble gum, sugary and fruity and so different from the gum my mother always had handy in her purse. Some adults find subconscious comfort in the scent of their mother’s perfume or in the Proustian rush of Mom’s meatloaf; for me, the smell of mint green Trident on the inside of a leather purse is the olfactory equivalent of sitting on my mother’s lap for a bedtime story.

Anyway, there’s a point to this ramble down memory lane. My mom basically had the Montessori method down pat, even if she didn’t define herself by that label. I’m looking at Montessori and Waldorf schools for Maggie, though God knows we’d need financial aid to sustain that model down the road. Right now I’m just learning about the differences in philosophy. I like Waldorf’s focus on philosophy and learning about humanity, but I also like Montessori’s work-play ethic. (It should come as no surprise that one of my favorite characters in literature is Dr. Larch of The Cider House Rules, he who so vehemently exemplified competency and usefulness.)

Maggie is going to be coming of age in the self-esteem generation, an era defined by its unearned praise, excessive entitlement and hand-holding. Hopefully it will be the *end* of this generation as studies of the effects of helicopter parenting (how my mother would have hated that school of thought) come back with horrible results. Hers will be a generation who needs a hand to hold. I want to instill in her, at home and at school, the tools to think around problems creatively, to imagine new solutions, and to have the necessary self-sufficiency to back up her confidence.

As the Scorcese character Frank Costello once said, “I want my environment to be a product of me.” I hesitate to compare the life philosophy of a ficitional coked-out whoring murderous gangster to my desires for Maggie, but it fits. Followers go by the rules and accept things as they are. Innovators make the rules and change things to fit their vision. The right educational foundation will help Maggie be an innovator. And so I’m reading up, figuring out which areas on our short list have the best schools–best curriculum and equally important, best prices.

See? I told you it wasn’t about Harvard.