Accepting Our Children For Who They Are

I have had a really tough month with Emilia over selecting high schools. I realize part of this is my own dream of how I thought it would go. No matter how many people I poll… I know it comes down to can I accept Emilia for who she is?

When I adopted Emilia I didn’t think much about schools because I moved into a neighborhood with good schools and decided she would go there. I did however decide that I wanted her to go to the all girls high catholic high school downtown. So I opened up a little UGM account and put in $100 per month with the sole purpose of funding high school. Fast forward… the girls high school was not for her, I wanted her to at least apply, she was firm it was a no.

We narrowed it down to a private super rigorous, incredible private school that she loved when she shadowed and the school for the arts downtown. When I went to the open house I hated the art school, yes hated. I did agree that we would apply to both schools. As time passed she got more and more into the art school because all her ballet friends go there and she goes to ballet 6 days per week.

A few weeks ago we found out that she was accepted to the private school and given a 20K academic scholarship. I was over the moon and felt like it was God sent. She started saying she didn’t want to go there and wanted to go to the art school. The private school has incredible academics, a gorgeous campus, and with the scholarship would not put a dent in our budget. The art school advantage is because she is at such a high level of ballet, they count that so every day she will have a 2 hour study hall before ballet. The downside, it’s just not as good of a school, teachers are young and turn over, not many AP classes, and doubtful she will be pushed. She is firm she doesn’t want to be a professional ballerina but would like to join company her senior year before college. The private school will prepare her for college much better.

Yesterday we went to the art school for their small open house (the one in the fall is chaos). She wore a long maxi dress, did some kind of funky hair style, and there I was in my talbots suit with my usual strand of pearls. It was obvious she was in love, she looked at me and said “mom… you have to believe in me, I won’t suddenly be a bad student or turn goth”. When the jazz ensemble played I suddenly started sobbing… OMG I thought I would die. I suddenly had a flash of the first night in China when at 2am she poked her finger out of her crib, I touched it and said “we will be ok” and here I was sitting next to this confident, artistic daughter looking at high schools. We then went up to the ballet area and on the bulletin board there was all this Ballet AZ stuff… she pointed to our tour group “these are my feet in pointe, here I am in Paquita, here I am in….” and it hit me… she is not who I want her to be…she is Emilia… an artistic, driven, different, stubborn, incredibly talented young girl.

We got into the car and went for coffee and she said “OMG…I love it even more now” and then she said “mom anyone can work and work and get into that private school but not everyone who works and works can be in the pre pro program at a company school”. I looked at her, tears streaming down my face and I said “we found your school and I am 100% behind you, every hoop you had to jump through with me is because I love you so much sometimes I think I know what is best but in this case you are right and this is your school”.

I dropped her off at school, I went to that dreaded H&M store and bought her this fringe poncho thing that she saw in the window a week ago and said “I would love to wear that to ASA and if I don’t go there I will wear it to PCDS and just get made fun of”. I wrapped it up and wrote out a card and gave it to her this morning. We are done… she is going to an art school with gender neutral bathrooms, purple hair is welcome, classes are big, kids are odd, and where she feels like she is home.Tomorrow… I will write the letter to the other school turning down one heck of an incredible opportunity… an opportunity that I would have loved to have had at age 14….but one that is not right for my daughter.

Elizabeth, proud mom to Emilia


To discuss this and other SMC topics, join SMC and take part in our discussions on our lively online 24/7 Forum and at local chapter meetings.

“I've been part of the SMC community since I was thinking about getting pregnant. They always have my back with useful, nuanced advice, trustworthy info, and personal experience. I feel honored to be a member, and to see all the children grow up alongside mine.”

– Sophie Holland