Maybe it's my theatrical background. I'm big on celebrating milestones, on recognizing days of import, on marking anniversaries and occasions with ritual and sometimes rewards. Just ask my teenage daughter. I've choreographed countless traditions for our family. We get up before dawn on her birthday every year to watch the sunrise together from a nearby waterside park. We always listen to Patrick Stewart's A Christmas Carol when we drive to New York for the holidays. We always stop at Big Al's infamous odd lot store on our way home from Maine. When she was younger, we celebrated each last day of school with a mother-daughter field trip into Boston for the aquarium and lunch in the North End.
Junior year midterms ended today. This is a big deal. The preparation was grueling, the exams tough. This teacher didn't provide a study guide. That one changed the rules halfway through. Another had the nerve to test the class on subjects that hadn't been taught yet. Worst of all, they were expected to read French and write French and speak French for the Honors French exam. Sacre bleu! I mean, what did Madame think they were taking? French or something? I mean, this is A-mer-i-ca. We speak Eng-lish.
(Ce que le baiser?)
The days prior to the mid-terms included all manner of technology-assisted cramming. The students took "quizlets" and watched short videos that unraveled the mysteries of Physics and Pre-Calc. Texts flew back and forth at lightning speed. "I heard this won't be on the test." "I heard that will." "My older sister's boyfriend's friend's younger brother said that the essay counts for 60% of the grade."
All in all, it's been a very stressful couple of weeks of an über-stressful year. And now, at last, it's over. My daughter wholeheartedly agrees that it warrants recognition and rewards. She just doesn't want me along for the ride.
To celebrate the end of midterms, my daughter is driving two of her best friends to the nearest Boston T station. (Although she's no longer the only kid on the block with a license, she's still the only one old enough to drive other kids.) From there, they'll take the train into town — the blue line, then the green line, then the red line — and spend the afternoon in Harvard Square.
I'd like to think it will inspire them to accomplish great things and attend a top-notch university.
No, no, no. In reality, Harvard Square is simply f-u-n. There's an Urban Outfitters and a Panera and a Chipotle. There are used record stores and vintage clothing stores. Funky gifts and junky food and caffecaramelmochaccinofrappiattos. The best ice cream anywhere, live music on the corners and some awesome, unparalleled really, people-watching.
How do I know all this? Because I myself love Harvard Square. I worked there through college. I still go there often for dinners or book readings or theatre. I would love to play hooky this afternoon, put all my clients' projects on hold and go hang out in Cambridge.
But, alas, I wasn't invited. And truly don't deserve to be. After all, I didn't just finish midterms.
And I certainly didn't have to speak French! (Sheesh!)
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