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March 2009

Kindergarten Woes

I went to register LT for kindergarten a week ago. I've been excited over the fact that our entire kindergarten is full day in our district this year. If LT gets to be full day in September, then I've reached that golden moment of motherhood. Both of my kids in school, the same school, all day. Wow. Whether you're a working mom, or a stay-at-home mom, this is a big deal. For the stay-at-home mom, now you have time to actually do all of the things that take four times as long when you do them with your kids - the errands, house cleaning, bill paying. You can take a shower, go to the gym, sit in peace for an hour and read a book. For us working moms, we now have a lot more money in our pockets, and less juggling to do. Our day care expenses are cut more than in half. It's when actually working through the years with young kids starts to pay off. Maybe we can actually stop living paycheck to paycheck.

So I've been waiting with baited breath, because I'm not one to count my chickens before they hatch. I knew not to entirely count on it before all the hype about budget cuts, and what is surely to become the depression of 2009. I called the school a month ago to ask if the kindergarten would still be completely full day next year. The woman at the desk said yes. But still in the back of my head I'm thinking, I'll believe that after I actually register him for full day kindergarten. And I was right, because when I went in to register him, they're only sure they're running one full day kindergarten classroom with a lottery to get in. Same thing they had when Trouble was in kindergarten, and guess what, he went half a day. And just think about it. There has to be at least one full day kindergarten at one of the Title One schools in our town. There has to be one because certain kids, as a result of head start screenings, are mandated to have it. That means for the rest of us, there's not even 25 spots up for grabs. At this point, I'd be literally shocked if he got full day next year. I'm resigned to yet another year of half day, another year of day care costs over $1000/month. Ugh.

Now I'm just hoping beyond hope he doesn't end up in the afternoon class, because holy crap would that be inconvenient. How does that work for anyone's schedule. Is there actually a parent on this earth that is a fan of half day kindergarten? It's one big wedgie in the day's schedule. There's nothing convenient about it. I suppose if you're a stay-at-home parent whose kid has never been to pre-school or daycare it's nice. But I'm willing to bet most of those parents would rather their kid go all day too.

I'm chocking this lovely little jewel that's popped so unwelcome into my life up to Dub-ya and our very thoughtful Republican party. If it hadn't been for all those policy changes during the first five years of the Bush Administration we wouldn't be in this mess and my elementary school wouldn't be backtracking. We wouldn't be forced to keep throwing billions of tax dollars, attempting to bail out a sinking ship. Critics can badmouth Obama all they want. The way I see it, he has two choices. Stop spending and watch the entire economy collapse, or send us further and further into debt, trying correct the ginormous mess we're in. It's not really a choice is it?



So I got this new book in the mail. Nothing better than new books in the mail. A friend of Bookgirl's, an author, sent me a copy of her new book, wondering if I might consider giving it a mention on my blog. A free book with a blog request. I feel very important now. An official, amateur book reviewer. A profession made for me, to be sure. Now if it only paid the bills . . . .

Godmother, by Carolyn Turgeon,  is "The Secret Cinderella Story." I've never been a great fan of fairy tales. Happy endings and true love are grand, but they sort of give a girl the wrong idea. Any maiden taken to waiting around for her prince to ride in on his white horse and bring her back to his castle where they live happily ever after is in for some rude awakenings.  First, the prince rarely shows up, and when he does, he might be driving a pinto and be in serious need of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, if you know what I mean. You might mistake him for the toad. And often, the one you thought was the prince turns out, in fact, to be the toad. And if you're completely swept off your feet, and your prince is completely perfect in every way, not a hair out of place, loves chick flicks, well you better bail now, because chances are your prince prances the other way.

And lets say that you are one of those unbelievably lucky people who find true love. While your home may be your castle, it's likely a little less grand than an actual castle. And somehow those happily ever after endings never make it too far past the wedding kiss. Happily ever after takes on a whole other meaning after you've gotten everything you've ever dreamed of and you've popped out a couple of ankle biters, suffered through a few years of sleep deprivation, and are wondering what the hell happened to your body and your sanity. Yes, at that point, happily ever after might be in some need of Xanax with a wine chaser to get you through to the next day.

Fairy Tales are overrated. But somehow, they never go away. There is the place inside, where we need to believe, if only for a moment, that we can be Cinderella. We all want to be the most beautiful, most desired, most envied girl at the ball, do we not? Oh, go ahead and deny it. You show me a girl that doesn't, and I'll show you a girl in serious need of a good friend and a makeover. I don't care how much of a tom boy, how independent, gay, how feminist the woman is. We all, at least at some point in our lives, want to be the most fabulous, stylish, amazing person in the room. I mean, who under 50, would want to be Cinderella's Godmother? How many girls watch Cinderella and the oodles of remakes and think, "Gee, wouldn't it be cool to get to send Cinderella to the ball where the prince will fall in love with her?" This is the direction that, Godmother take us. Because what if Cinderella's Godmother was actually young and vibrant and fell in love with the prince herself? What if the story we know actually got it all wrong?

This is only one layer of the story, though. Lil, takes us between her two worlds, the fairy world she was exiled from, and the drudgery of her life as a lonely old woman. Lil, now residing in the aching body of an aging, single woman, still has her wings, the only link remaining to her true self. As the novel progresses, it forces us to question who we are, as we learn the truth about Lil. Is she really a fairy? Or is she just a lonely, crazed old woman? And if it's real for Lil, does it really matter what anyone else believes? Does it make her any less of a Godmother?

The novel, while centering around the fairy tale of Cinderella, is definitely not another happily ever after retelling. Of course, the original Cinderella tale would never have made it by the Disney censors either. Godmother combines the magic, beauty and love of the fairy tale with what is sometimes the monotony, loneliness, and pain of reality. One can never exist without the other. And as is always the case, the truth is somewhere in the middle. There may be no refuting reality, but who wants to live in a world without a little magic?