Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Oy Vey! Being a Dad is Sometimes Difficult

Well, last Winter, while I was in Peru, Madeleina heard of, looked up and then went to audition for a Fort Worth Independent Charter School, the Fort Worth Academy of the Arts. Or "For the Arts", I'm not sure which. She auditioned on flute and when I returned we got a letter letting us know she'd passed the audition but that they were only taking a couple of new flutes for the band so she was on the waiting list.
Summer came and went and no word. All month Madeleina has been at Marching Band School, something between bootcamp and football pre-season. She was at school for three weeks from 8-11:30 AM doing exercises, running and then learning routines. From 1-5 she was indoors practicing songs with the band on her flute. These were hot days: We averaged, according to my heating bill (which I think I mentioned in an earlier post but which was read wrongly), a high temperature of 108.9 for July 2-August 2, and then it got hot: We hit 113 a couple of days, a couple of 110s and so forth. So she'd start practicing at 8 AM when it was only 94 or so, and then finish when it hit 105. Of course, it was warmer for her as she, and the other hundred or so kids, were working on concrete.
The school finally relented for last week, the last week of Marching Band School, and had the kids come in from 6:30 AM till 11, so they'd beat some of the heat.
By the end of it Madeleina was totally in love with 4-5 hours of doing laps, pushups, running in place, marching. Last night she came home and proudly, and I mean proudly, showed me her band shirt.
Then this morning I got an email from the Arts Academy: A slot had opened up and she was in if she wanted. They needed an answer today. That stopped my work cold. I tried to calculate it. It's about $800 in fees despite being a public school, plus $200 in books and $200 in extras. Then, as it's 25 miles from my house, that's 1 1/4 gallons of gas four times a day for dropping her off and picking her up. That comes to 25 gallons a week, at say $3.40 each, or about $80 a week for gas, just to get her to school.
Then there is the time: I timed it today and going, with absolutely no traffic and all the lights in my direction, was 33 minutes. Coming home an hour later, with light traffic and missing a few lights, was 45 minutes. So let's say that's about 160 minutes daily, barring heavy traffic or bad weather. That's nearly 3 hours.
Still, it wasn't going to be right to just say no and then not tell Madeleina. She'd earned the slot in a tough school, after all. So I took her out of school and brought her in; we spoke with the principal, hoping there might be other kids from this neighborhood attending the school with whom we might carpool. Unfortunately, there are none.
Which means, even if I would give up nearly 3 hours of my work day daily to get her there and back, I would have no one to get her there in January and February when I'm out of town and working in Peru's Amazon. Chepa already has Sierra in school--kindergarden--and has to get her there at pretty much the same time Madeleina would have to be in school 25 miles away. Which would mean that even if she wanted to do it--and she would if needed--Chepa would have to get Sierra ready more than an hour early, and put Alexa in the car as well--and drive them with Madeleina to Madeleina's new school before returning to drop Sierra off. She could just leave Sierra at home with Alexa and sometimes Taylor Rain, but that's not really her style.
So after hours of deliberation and twice driving to the fantastic new school's campus, I had to tell Madeleina that it just wasn't a realistic option.
At least not until she's 16 and can drive herself there.
She wasn't happy with me. I don't know how to save it. Nobody from at school lives within 15 miles of us, so no carpool. I ain't rich, so no private car to take her and bring her back. I'm out of town two months every school year and for several days here and there during other times while I'm on a story.
Sometimes being a dad is more difficult than I wish.
Sorry, Madeleina.

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