He Got In!
Shane has been rejected for so much in the past few years, it pains me.
The key to that sentence is, of course, that it pains me. Shane recovered from each and every rejection beautifully, and never talks about it, even in passing.
He didn’t get into the Gifted & Talented program – while most of his friends did, and those who didn’t get in were waitlisted – and two of those ended up in the GT program in 5th grade. Shane didn’t even get waitlisted.
A year later, every single one of his best friends – and several acquaintances – were chosen to be safety patrols. The selection process completely overlooked Shane.
So when Shane was voted in as one of only two student government representatives, everyone leapt for joy. He is thrilled with his new position, and does a great job.
Around the same time, Shane decided that he’d like to attend the local magnet program for performing arts. He enjoys acting classes, and thinks he’d like to go to a school that emphasizes the arts.
My stomach sank. The program is a lottery, and people are chosen quite randomly. Other than gender, possibly, there is no way to influence the decision about middle school. I thought, I don’t even want him to apply.
But Shane wanted to apply. And while many of his friends were applying to the GT program for middle schools, he put his application in the lottery for the performing arts middle school. He wasn’t even sure he wanted to go – but he wanted to be accepted.
And then we forgot all about it because we are following the motto: Whatever is supposed to happen will happen.
Then the letter arrived in the mail: Shane was accepted. He got in!
I called him downstairs to read the letter, which he did. He read it very quietly. He got through the first two paragraphs, then he looked at me.
“Can I go to my regular school?” he asked.
“Yes,” I said, “if that’s what you really want to do.”
“I do. Unless suddenly all of my friends get into this school, too, and I don’t think any of them applied.”
“Do you want to think about it for awhile and then decide?”
“Not really,” Shane said.
Still, I forced him to make a big announcement to everyone who came into the house – his dad, his brother – and then call his grandparents, too. He got in!
But Shane didn’t care. He said, “I got in, but I’m not going.”
And that was the end of it for him.
For me, it was a missed opportunity for celebrating acceptance.
And then it occurred to me that it was only me who cared about celebrating. Shane just lets things roll right off his back. He’s not burying some deep resentment over the things that happen. He simply notices them as they do.
I think he was hurt when he wasn’t chosen to be a patrol. But he grieved a little – and then he was done. He felt the pain, then moved on.
Meanwhile, I’ve been rolling around in that pain for half a year, wallowing, and letting it build up on top of the pain of his being rejected for the GT program. And his getting accepted to this school felt good – even if he didn’t want to go.
But Shane doesn’t care. He is going to go where he thinks he’ll be happiest. And when he gets there, whatever is supposed to happen will happen.