The voice at the end of the line was a studied blend of concern, regret and distance. It was obvious that all content and delivery was shaped in anticipation of my response. After a brief exchange of pleasantries and a weighty pause, I heard this: “Drew just isn’t at the same level as the other candidates.”
My first born was rejected from my alma mater. The admissions councilor who’d waxed so glowingly of his attributes after Drew’s interview was calling to tell me that there were better kids available. His future lay in wait somewhere else.
“You’re making a mistake,” I said.
The woman, ensconced in her colonial era office, was unmoved but promised me that she was appreciative of how I must feel.
“Go fuck yourself,” I thought but managed not to say.
This fall, Drew entered as a Freshman at another school. He played soccer, won the Coach’s Award, studied very hard for all A’s and began running: first, on the cross-country team and now, the indoor track team. As a runner, he’s blossomed beyond anything my wife and I had imagined possible. His future is bright.
Today, in his debut at the distance, Drew qualified for the State meet in the 3,000. We’ve been told, this is a pretty special deal for a Freshman. A full five seconds under what his coaches thought would be his best time possible. Drew ran consistent 78 second quarters and saved a little something for the end. His pace extrapolated over two miles was 5:06 per.
Above me and to my left, a parent friend went on at some length about Drew’s talent and performance. I didn’t want to feign humility but I also didn’t want to be an ass. So, I mostly kept silent and smiled.
Driving home from the track meet, my mind wandered back to my alma mater’s assessment of Drew. While I’m immature enough to want to call them up and deliver an update on Drew’s current “level,” I’m also aware that the school has a process and my son didn’t fit it. And that’s a very good thing because he definitely has a place, a leadership and a purpose at the school that did want him.
In some of my recent races, I could have pushed a little bit harder to move up a place or two. I could have gone to the red place, where I can’t hear anything, where my peripheral vision goes away and everything hurts. But I chose not to. I finished comfortably and had fun.
It’s possible, I could have fought for and won a place for Drew at my alma mater. I could have got my “crazy” on and beaten on some doors. There’s no doubt in my mind, he would have comfortably exceeded what I achieved there. But I am glad I did not. He’s his own man with his own school and he’s doing just fine.