The Global Financial Services Firm.

So, A is home for the winter holiday.

He's been jammin' on his guitar (don't I love to be serenaded? I do, after a long absence from hearing the guitar!), reading Sir Thomas Mallory, going to the movies with me to see "Atonement" (just for you older teens, okay?) and "I'm Not There" (ditto), and looking up words on Google such as "IDF" and "Haganah" and "Shin Bet" and "Mossad" (Oh, dear, I knew the day would come).

He has completed a Fall term and part Winter term nearly unscathed in his new "institutional student" status from his new prep school in New England.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it can be done.

But done does not mean done without challenges.

We have such a one in A's email inbox. "You have been selected on the recommendation of Teacher XYZ to intern this summer at Big Time Global Financial Services Firm. Please attend the Global Financial Services Firm orientation in New York City, to take place on the Twelfth Night. The golden door with the candle will mark your entry to the Tower of Orientation. Please wear your cloaks, under which you must have on business attire. Satan will await with a deep green pen as you sign your souls away to corporate life under Big Time Global Financial Services Firm. Of course, we will pay for acquisition of your soul. Ten dollars an hour, for six weeks. "

Or something like that.

I wonder if Big Time Boarding School A (BTBSA) forgot that they gave Alex a scholarship to do science research this summer?

I read the "invitation" the first time and my heart sank. My son is a scientist/artist. Not a businessman. No No NO!

Then I remembered Mick Jagger studied business and went to the London School of Economics. Oh yes! Redemption!

But then, lest I forget, there is also the Summer Term in China and the summer term in Calculus...both in which A wanted to embark. This is where we curse the laws of Physics that govern time and space (A can only choose one course for the same 6 weeks on the calendar), and also curse the calendar for offering such a short summer.


In other news, A is studying for the AP French exam. BTBSA refused to place him in fourth-year French, so he is going to take the exam, anyway. He studies every weekend and seems to be making very good progress.

I've noticed that BTBSA doesn't like when students do "their own thing." I keep reminding myself, "It's an institution. They can't help it. They don't know better."

And really, they don't.


crouching dysfunctional kids, hidden parent

I would like to begin and end this post by saying that the living skeleton in my family is a Cuban called Fidel Castro. Unfortunately, dear bloggy reader, my life could not be that simple.

The living skeleton is actually a single parent who is raising two kids in sunny Miami, ignores what the kids learn in school, loathes the act of cooking for them and feeds them breakfast cereal for dinner.

She is my cousin. My Cousin in Miami (CIM).

Perhaps I am overreacting in giving her living skeleton status. But last night, after a two-hour phone conversation with another cousin in South Carolina, I learned that CIM's breakfast cereal-turned-dinner is occasionally replaced by a Dunkin Donuts "meal" (Tony Bourdain, I am right there with you on your recent criticism of Rachael Ray. Her latest endorsement is just Evil. Could someone finally please teach Ms. Ray about Integrity in Food?).

I am guessing that CIM is not the only one who relinquishes her childrens' brains to the random schoolteacher, and allows the system to work its magic on their grey matter. But my South Carolina cousin (SCC) informed me, "No, you don't understand...she doesn't even know her kids' teachers by name." Worse, SCC became concerned enough to ask CIM's kids to show HER their report cards. SCC flipped. "You're failing in Math? Does your mother know?" The child shook her head.

Neglect is a touchy subject in my family. I was a child of regular doses of neglect (a.k.a., The Spectacular Free-Spirited Seventies!). And I suspect some of us homeschooler parents may overcompensate in our kids' educations because of our own perceived parental uninvolvement -- but I'll leave that one to you kiddos to psychoanalyze for yourselves.

Anyhoo, SCC decided to intervene in the food matter and let CIM's kids eat a real sit-down restaurant. No instant gratification facilitated by quick meals, no plastic utensils. So SCC and CIM's kids go to at Gloria Estefan's restaurant on Ocean Drive. Yes, that one. It was during this noble venture in (greasy) food education, that one of CIM's kids blurted out, "BUT I'D RATHER EAT BURGER KING!" Note: The kids are age 12 and 14 years old.

SCC and I agreed that CIM's kids need help. I want to call a family intervention on CIM, I really do. The issues we'd address would include her kids' malnutrition, CIM's partying ways (sorry, won't get into that here, but let's just say there is an issue of a certain quantity of men), and the need for her to pay attention to her kids' education.

Unfortunately, because neglect is not a new issue in that side of my family, the fractured relationships prevent a family-size "intervention" from happening.

A question to ponder from LaMai: In addition to your involvement with your kids' education, what do YOU do to reinforce healthy family relations?