Connect Three

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    Because I have the privilege of filling this incredible space every month, I keep a running list of topics and themes that might work here. When ideas come, I save them in my Ed Voice file. For the past month, I’ve checked on Ed periodically, and now, it’s come to this: How can one woman connect the SATs, lawn care, and cosmetic surgery in a thoughtful and mildly entertaining essay with only a handful of paragraphs?

    My daughter is brilliant, that’s how.

    This is my oldest woman child, the one whose bedroom I’ve suggested should be hermetically sealed, lest its aura of grunge permeate the rest of our home. The one, whom if I didn’t know better, I would have sworn inspired Chris Moore in the DadZone this month to write about the look teenagers are known for glowering at their parents.

    I’ve written this about her before. The brilliant thing. At the age of four, this daughter decided she wanted to make her own Valentines instead of using the boxed variety. It’s been a tradition in our family to shun store-bought ever since.

    In its teen state, however, the brilliance looks like this. It was a few days before her first official crack at the SAT, the standardized college admissions test high school students take (and, you’ll note, topic number one). We had been discussing the recent changes, specifically the College Board’s goal of making test-prep tools more accessible to students of all income levels.

    “I’m as ready as I can be for this test,” she announced, adding that she was genuinely happy we hadn’t spent a ton of money on outside tutoring to presumably pump up her SAT score. She had always loved to learn. She was a fantastic student. She’d taken a couple free practice tests and an online cram-session webinar. And she was ready. Within the course of our conversation that day, she said that if high school students everywhere just took the SAT and got the scores they were supposed to get, the results would be more fair, naturally.

    So, of course, I thought of lawn care (that would be topic number two). When we moved to our current neighborhood, the yards were very impressive. Mostly because I couldn’t stand being indoors all day where I might have to clean, I made it my job to completely revamp our landscaping. Edging, planting, mulching – it was hard work, but I enjoyed it. But then it dawned on me as I watched our neighbor trudging behind his drop spreader for the third time in a week, that I was in charge of the grass, too. The lawns to the left and right of ours were golf course-quality turf. You know, I remember thinking, if all of these neighbors just left their lawns alone and got the results nature intended them to get, we could all save a lot of time and money.

    Which, on the surface, might seem like it has nothing to do with cosmetic surgery (also known as topic number three) but you’ve come this far, so keep reading. A few weeks ago, while purchasing the de-puffing massage serum that keeps the bags under my eyes at bay, it occurred to me that one day soon, the caffeine concoction delivered via this handy little roll-on, would cease to be enough. While perusing other areas with bag potential – under my arms for example – I realized that at some point, soaking in a tub full of caffeine might become necessary. Would Botox and liposuction be next? Wow, I thought, if we could all agree to age naturally and accept what we see in the mirror, life would be a lot easier.

    So there you have it. If only to cross off some topics I’ve been wanting to address for months, I have managed to connect the SATs, lawn care, and cosmetic surgery. Now, if you’re thinking this was solely an opportunity to justify my weed-filled, but relatively green lawn, or a chance to offer a rationale for the age spots I’m not doing anything about this year, you might be onto something. In our culture of “keeping up,” it’s easy to see how someone could feel like a few of these issues might require explaining.

    Except for the brilliant daughter, that is. For her, no excuse is necessary.

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    Karen Schwartzkopf
    Karen Schwartzkopf has her dream job as managing editor of RFM. Wife, mother, arts and sports lover, she lives and works in the West End with her family: husband Scott, who not coincidentally is RFM’s creative director, and their daughters—Sam, Robin, and Lindsey. You can read Karen’s take on parenting in the Editor’s Voice.