Dressed to Impress...or Not--Our PCA Parent Interview

I set the alarm in order to get up and be ready before the kids. I put on a cute dress with leggings and grabbed my trendy belt. The ensemble is cute by itself, but the belt makes the outfit. I paused, "I'm not trying to impress anyone," I thought, and I put the belt back in the closet. We're exploring all our options for Kindergarten next year. Part of this process is applying to PCA (Prestonwood Christian Academy). It's a 4-step process (5-step if you count our application for financial aid). One part is the Parent Interview. Our interview was Tuesday morning.
"This is about seeking the Lord for HER schooling. It's not about me impressing them. We are just going to be ourselves." My belt is really not that impressive, but it was symbolic for me, so I put it back.
On the way out the door, little sister wanted to wear her purple socks (of course she did--she asked Santa for purple socks. She has enough purple socks to wear every day and some to spare). She wanted to wear the above-the-ankle purple socks with her pink crocs and a short dress. I tell her, "Those socks don't exactly match. Would you take off the socks please?" She made a frowny face. I thought, "She's 3. It doesn't matter if she doesn't match. This is not something to make a battle. Purple socks make her happy, and remember, we're not trying to impress anyone."
"Never mind," I tell her. "You can wear your socks." Bouncing happiness results.

Getting into the car, despite 3-yr-old's mismatched socks and my lack of trendy belt, I'm feeling that we are a pretty cute family. The girls are in matching dresses. Kindergartener-to-be is donning a flower in her hair and bracelets that she picked out. She is all-girl. She feels feminine and pretty in such things, and her smile of pleasure is adorable enough by itself.

The smaller sister was just as precious--esp. when you add her cuddling her love-worn kitty. Karl and I were wearing coordinating colors--not on purpose, it just happened. How cute are we? :) Baby boy is just plain cute. I think back to feeling this cute before--during our summer in Santa Cruz, CA. One morning in particular, I was wearing an outfit that cost no more than $25 including my shoes, but as we pushed our stroller of 3 children down the strip where the homeless people asked for handouts, I felt like we appeared to be the richest family in the world. Our clothes were clean, our cheeks had a healthy glow, we had genuine smiles of joy. We were rich in every sense of the word.
During the car ride to the interview, we had to rebuke these glowing cute kids a couple of times, "Don't touch your sister," "Stop whining," "You shouldn't have thrown your cup on the floor," and other such normalcy on any drive. I said to Karl, "I don't know how we are supposed to be 'interviewed' while we have our 3 little kids with us."
"Did they say we could bring them?" He asked.
"They didn't say 'Find a sitter.'" I said. "Oh well, we'll manage. It's not like we're trying to impress anyone."
We arrive on time (a HUGE victory). The wind was gusting 30 mph. By the time we loaded the kids in the stroller and got to the door, everyone's hair looked like this:

We had to buzz the door and be admitted. This took a few attempts because the wind saying "Goosh goosh" kept overpowering the sound of the intercom. When we got in the waiting area--and after we pushed hair out of faces so that everyone could see again--we smiled politely at the other couple also waiting for their parent interview. They did not have children with them. They were strikingly attractive in their dress. The man had on a 3-piece suit with some sort of gold jewelry peeking out from pockets or cuffs (I didn't stare long enough to tell). The woman, also wearing a suit--hers of satiny gold and blush pink, had bright gold jewelry and a Louis Vuitton purse. Their hair was perfect. They must have remembered to bring their Louis Vuitton wind-protection bubble to escort them into the building.

I looked at Karl's "nice shirt" and jeans. I recalled how we have been calling it a "nice shirt" for 2 years now. Why does it still have this title when it now has those little fabric pilings from being worn and washed so many times? [Mental note-to-self: Use clothing budget next month to buy Karl a new "nice shirts."] I thought about my outfit and how, once again, it cost less than $25 from top to toe. If you count my bag (not Louis's) that I got at Ross Dress for Less, the whole ensemble was less than $50. How did I go from feeling like the richest family to the ragamuffin-award-winner in 20 minutes? I laughed to myself, thinking that my "trendy belt" (which I also got on clearance at Ross for $2), would have certainly impressed no one.

The lady, we'll call her Mrs. Y, who conducted our interview was genuinely sweet and welcoming. She said that our family was beautiful. Mrs. Y decided to move our interview out of her office and into the conference room, which was bigger, so that the kids would be more comfortable and have room to play. She brought a few children's books from her office for them.

I surveyed the still small conference room--4 uncovered outlets, 2 blinds cords, multiple unoccupied chairs near a table with things to grab. Because of this, we decided to keep little brother in the stroller for as long as possible (bouncing baby boy has now turned into: 25 lbs. of climbing destruction). We tried to occupy him with crackers, which he ate happily for about 15 minutes.

We still had a ways to go in this interview when Bubba wanted OUT.
I let him out and gave him a toy. He maneuvered to the corner behind his stroller, bent over and began to grunt. Yeah, the grunt I knew all too well--he was messing his diaper. I looked in my bag, only to remember that I did not restock it w/ diapers and the only extras were a 5 minute, wind-gusting walk away in the glove compartment of our car. As the smell filled that small space, I thought, "Thank you Lord, that we are not in her office--poor lady would have to smell this all day." Then I started laughing--not just to myself--this time out loud as I was thinking, "Good thing we aren't trying to impress anyone." I explained to Mrs. Y about my laughter--about the diaper and the cracker crumbs on their pristine carpet. While I was apologizing for the now need to clean the entire conference room, Bubba had found an aerosol can behind a plant on the table. He brought it to her and she said, "Oh, I didn't know this was in here--I'm not sure what it is." It was scented disinfectant. "Oh good," I said, "You'll need that for when we leave." :o)
I thought for sure our interview would be wrapped up quickly. But it wasn't. She eagerly asked us questions about how we came to faith and said, "I would love to hear the stories of how God called you into ministry." Through the smell and the clamor of our kids, she listened intently and with a smile. We left the small room (thank heaven for fresh air!), and she escorted us through the halls--introducing us to teachers and showing us learning stations and art projects. The teachers, dressed up like fairytale characters for book-fair day, stopped and talked to all 3 kids. They felt like it was Disney World. It was obvious that no one viewed us as ragamuffin. We were just as valued as the gold-cuff-link-wearers.
Mrs. Y prayed for us, for God's leading, and our family in this time of decision. By this point, Mrs. Y was well aware that we were not a family who would contribute a lot of money to their school, there was no self-interest when she said, "We would love to have you here. I think our community would benefit so much from your family's presence. We respect the organization of Campus Crusade and what you do." We were encouraged by her kindness.
We left the building--comfortable in our wind-blown, faded-clothing, poopy-smelling selves, but just like that day in California--feeling rich.

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