Saturday, November 24, 2018

SO Selective

Evan's literary "cliffhanger": how DID that limerick end?

You’d think his teacher would have pulled the plug on this scam. But no, we received an impressive notice: Evan was going to be a published poet! A piece he had written in school was going to appear in a beautifully bound "Anthology of Young Poets" (or some such name). Our lucky lad’s super-duper poem had made the cut, and for a mere fortune, we could purchase a copy (or 12) upon the book’s release.

Now, granted, Evan liked to write, and was pretty good. This ditty, however, was far from his best fourth grade work. I don’t remember the whole thing, but his limerick began, “There once was an athlete named Tim/Who jumped around in a gym.” I wish the rest of the tale hadn’t receded from my memory, but the snippet I retain doesn’t strike me as extraordinary. At all.

My older boys had zero interest in foreign travel when they were in middle school. There were a few opportunities to participate in exchange programs, and something called CISV (Children’s International Summer Village) that you could attend after fifth grade. I never even saw the application forms; the boys didn’t bother bringing them home. Rose, however, was extremely keen on seeing the world. So she made sure we DID hear about People to People, an organization that offers student trips to various exotic locales. PTP is a legit group, and Rose begged me to attend an initial information session with her. The price tag had not come up in any of the early mailings, just rave reviews.

The presentation really laid it on thick. That year’s trip was to Australia, a "once-in-a-lifetime adventure". The speaker went on and on about what the kids would experience, the people they would meet and life-long friends they would make. Ours is a well-to-do school district, so NO one asked about the money (or maybe they were just embarrassed to be the first to bring up that crass subject). Rose was so excited, and kept whispering to me that she could sell her homemade cookies to help pay. At last, one of the dads asked The Question, and was told something ridiculous like $6000. I knew there was no way we could afford to send her, and the only way her baking could fund it would be if she started charging $100 per brownie. In the end, after all the talk about their rigorous selection process, it became clear that the most important criterion was the parents’ ability to pay the full freight.

I wish impressionable kids wouldn’t be sent this kind of stuff. They are too young to realize they haven’t been specially chosen. In later years, Evan won an authentic award for his writing, and Rose found amazing travel opportunities that didn’t break the bank. The real deals ARE out there. You just need to be "selective."

If you’ll excuse me, I’m off to hunt for my copy of Evan’s "Anthology." I just have to know what happens to Tim.

Rose as a Rotary exchange student in Thailand 2006

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