Friday, March 24, 2000
The Proper Response
The Carlisle School administration and staff were faced with a nightmare scenario last week that has unfortunately become all too common in this country. A threat to the school community's safety was written on a bathroom wall. The police were called in; searches were performed; metal detectors used. A police presence was visible at the school. All but one of the school's entrances were kept locked. All the while, those in charge did their utmost to maintain a "business-as-usual" atmosphere for the children, continuing classes without disruption. Was this an excessive response? Not in the slightest, especially not in this era when any fourth-grader can get instructions for making a bomb off the Internet. The school should hear nothing but commendations for erring on the side of caution.
A second facet to this response impressed me even more, however. From the start, the school kept the lines of communication open, sending home letters to parents, holding an assembly for the fifth- through eighth-grade students, answering questions from the newspaper. Once the situation was resolved, Superintendent Davida Fox-Melanson followed it up with a letter in the school newsletter, The Buzz, explaining that any perceived lapse in communication was due to the school being "constrained by issues of confidentiality, legal constrictions and the fact that this was an open police investigation." This level of communication and openness, especially in a highly sensitive and nerve-wracking situation, is to be applauded.
Because the school elected to deal with this situation in an open and straightforward manner, the residents of Carlisle were able to observe the process and, in doing so, could take something positive away from this frightening experiencethe knowledge that our children are in the best of hands.
Father of the Bride ... and Groom
Our last Thanksgiving dinner was brightened by the brilliance of two new diamonds at our table. On the Friday prior to Thanksgiving, my middle son dropped by my office to show me the engagement ring he was about to present to his girlfriend. One hour later I received a phone call from my daughter. She was having a picnic lunch with her boyfriend in Shenandoah National Park and was looking at the diamond ring on the fourth finger of her left hand that she had just been given.
Neither of these events came as a total surprise. My son had already informed us that he was about to propose to his girlfriend, and my daughter's boyfriend had asked for my blessing prior to his proposal. The timing did surprise us, and there had obviously been some communication and coordination between the two men. So, in about one week we went from wondering whether any of our children would ever marry to having two of our three children engaged! Perhaps we would get to play with grandchildren after all.
Many friends suggested we rent the remake of Father of the Bride with Steve Martin as a way of preparing for what lay ahead. Remembering the original version, and considering how we have spent the last few months, I'm sure they were right. Being the father of the groom isn't too complicated and I think I will handle this role without difficulty. But being the father of the bride is a lot more stressful. Thankfully, we have established a wonderful relationship with my daughter's future in-laws, which helps reduce the stresses.
My daughter wanted her wedding to be in April 2001 at Saint Irene's, with a reception in Boston. Setting the actual date involved determining the date of Easter and the Boston Marathon in 2001, as well as inquiring if the Armenian Apostolic Church used the Gregorian or Julian calendar. Thanks to the Internet, these turned out to be some of the easier tasks. Despite the long lead time, several places we were considering for the reception were already booked. My wife, daughter and her fiance thought they had found the perfect placeuntil I asked to see it set up for a wedding approximately the size we think hers will be. It was not adequate.
At this point we were also becoming aware of what the average wedding reception costs. As most fathers these days do, I offered to give the bride and groom a large check if they would consider eloping. No such luck!
Philosophically, one can consider the cost of a wedding reception as equal to just another year of college tuition, except that you get to spend it all in one day! This does not include other significant expenses, such as the wedding dress, flowers, photographers, wedding cake, band and invitations. To my daughter's amazement, I have stopped complaining about the costs. Perhaps this reflects my Greek heritage. Aristotle, in his Nicomachean Ethics, discusses the quality of magnificence. The magnificent man "sees what is fitting and spends large sums tastefully." Furthermore, according to Aristotle, "Of private occasions of expenditure the most suitable are those that take place once and for all" (e.g., a wedding). I only hope I can live up to these Aristotelian views. It will be a hectic but exciting year.
© 2000 The Carlisle Mosquito