Friday, September 16, 2016

Two very different takes on a day

My son took his EMS state certification exam yesterday morning, with the results to be posted at 9 pm last night. His instructors at the FDNY Academy told the probies that if they received a call last night, it meant they'd failed, and were effectively released from the department. Otherwise show up this morning as usual. My son arrived home at four yesterday afternoon, very worried that he'd failed. He said the test was crazy, not hard exactly, but very ambiguously worded, and that he and his group were so deeply knowledgeable at this point that very often they could make a case for more than one of the answer choices. When he compared his responses to others, he grew even more concerned. I told him not to worry. I reminded him that he'd scored in the nineties on all the tests leading up to this. I was sure he'd passed. Still, I was scared for him, because this has been his dream. He told me that many of the people in his class had, like him, been inspired by 9/11, and with all the memorial events they attended last week to mark the fifteenth anniversary of the attack, they were now very emotionally bonded.

"They use the word family a lot in the FDNY," he said. "They're not tossing it around though. They mean it deeply." He marveled that a life dream should come down to a few hours of testing. I admit I hadn't really taken in that if he failed the state exam, that would be it; he'd be out of the service. I've been talking and writing about him being in the department as if it was a done deal. After my son went to sleep to pass the hours till he could learn his fate, I sat in my room and prayed for him to pass the exam, because the alternative would be heartbreaking.

My boy emerged from his room at 10 pm. "No phone calls yet," he said. All night he held his phone in his hand, but all that came in were messages back and forth from the other probies checking in with one another. There are fourteen in his group. None received the dreaded call.

"I knew you passed," I told him. "Didn't you know deep down you'd passed?"

"No," he said seriously. "I thought I'd failed. And I really won't stop worrying till I hear my score tomorrow morning."

My son has never given himself credit for how smart he is, and how much he knows. This morning, he texted me that he'd earned a score of 92 percent. Now all that's left are the clinical scenarios in a few weeks. He won't relax till he passes those, too, but I have faith in him. All the same, it won't hurt, if you're so inclined, to send all good thoughts his way.


Our daughter, meanwhile, was having a very different kind of day from her brother. Through her job, she got invited to one of the most exclusive foodie events of the year, Diner en Blanc, where everyone wears white and brings their own table, chairs, cloths, cutlery and food, and they set up together for a pop-up dinner and dance party in a location that isn't revealed until the day itself.

All over the city yesterday, clusters of people in dressy whites waited on designated street corners for the guides who would take them to the outdoor location of the party. It was fancy, with feather boas and white top hats and corseted Francophile gowns. The top-secret concept apparently originated in Paris years ago, and now similar events are held in New York and other cities annually. The waiting list for invitations is some 25,000 long—no wonder I've never heard of the event. My girl in her lacy white dress and bright red lipstick and sleekly pulled back hair danced with young people from her job into the evening. From the pictures she posted on Snapchat, she throughly enjoyed herself.

It might be that the nut of parenting is watching our kids go out and meet life, and when their experiences are unabashedly good, on those days we can exhale.


    Yeah, I was talking to a friend once and she said she was the sort of mom who, if she thought her kids were on the wrong path (according to her definition of wrong, of course- and she admitted that) that she would stand in front of them in the middle of the path with her arms out and yell at them not to take it.
    I told her that I was more the sort of mom who, when my kids decide to try paths that I've certainly never gone down, instead of standing in their way, I say, "Sounds interesting. Send postcards."
    Frankly, there have been a few times when I should have stood in the middle of that path and waved my own arms, but mostly not.
    And somehow, if they need me, they can always find me and I can always find them.
    And all of this is to say- isn't it amazing to see where they go?
    Tell your boy that there's a whole community of us out here who knew he could do it, would do it, and we are so proud to see him fulfill his dream.

  2. There are so many of the other days when we can't fully exhale, it is only right that we should have a few of this kind!

    Seriously, all good thoughts going with your son. Your description of him holding his phone all night made me tear up. It's so good that they all passed that part.

    That food event is simply amazing. I'd never heard of it either, but what an idea.

  3. I am so proud of both of your kids! I hope your son sleeps well tonight. xo

  4. Congratulations to both of your wonderful young adults!

  5. I have my fingers crossed for your son and am sure he will get over that final hurdle.

  6. Such excellent news! Your children, wow! We have these white dinners here too, must have a look next time.

  7. Ha, very different days indeed! Well wishes to both but special congrats to your son. It's nice to hear that they are such a bonded team too, that's wonderful.

  8. You have remarkable kids, as you well know! Congrats to your son on this latest triumph. I've never heard of Diner en Blanc either -- but it looks like a lot of fun!

  9. Heartfelt congrats esp. for your son. A dream beomes true!

  10. Positive thoughts your way for your son!!! By the way, congratulations to him on the exam!!!! Awesome night out for your daughters!!!