A fusion of driving and living

Sheila Smart @ Blood Orange Review

Marilyn Martin on parenting, disabilities, and the long commute @ Front Porch.
The first time I saw the Waldorf School, my friend, Monica, drove me. I sat in the passenger seat as we inched down the entrance ramp and merged into the left lane of the Eisenhower Expressway among the stalled cars of commuting bankers, construction workers, and computer programmers. I could see harried women staring into their rear-view mirrors while they applied mascara and dipped plastic spoons into cartons of Dannon yogurt. Later, we left the Eisenhower and got onto the Kennedy. Huge trucks hauling milk and gasoline thundered by in the adjacent lanes. Forty-five minutes later we parked in front of an ugly building on a small residential street in a commercial section of Chicago. There were a few apartments, a few brick bungalows, and rows of abandoned warehouses.We had driven in from our homes in suburban Oak Park for a monthly orientation meeting offered by the Waldorf School for prospective parents. Monica had read about the school in one of those free alternative-parenting magazines you find littering the floor of the children’s department of the library. She wasn’t seriously considering sending Celine, her precocious six-year-old daughter and my daughter’s current best friend, to a school that required a difficult commute on two expressways. We were here, she explained, to explore all the educational alternatives and “see what was out there.” But my interest in the school was more tangible. For the past six months, I had been looking for a school where my daughter, Sara, could fit in. I had pretty much rejected all the choices close to home, so I remember being disappointed on realizing just how far the school was from where I lived.Helping Children with Nonverbal Learning Disabilities to Flourish: A Guide for Parents and ProfessionalsIf it seems neurotic to put so much energy into finding a school for a first-grader, keep in mind that this was 1987, and already the twenty-first-century hyper-vigilant brand of parenting was in vogue among privileged people. Very little about a child’s life was left to chance. Every option was obsessively debated, and each decision was made with deliberation. Should the baby sleep in a crib or in a “family bed”? Should we sign up with the Italian pediatrician who recommended no solid food during the first year or the one in the next office who believed babies should eat cereal before they could sit up? But the questions that claimed the most reflection and debate among parents were the ones about education. Mothers had heated discussions about the relative merits of progressive versus traditional education. The ability to discover the best school for one’s child became a touchstone of parenting.read more