February 27, 2024 | Rome, Italy

Oedipus, enrolled

By |2018-03-21T18:37:08+01:00May 4th, 2009|Lifestyle Archive|
First Rome, then Harvard...

et me set the scene. INTERIOR: Midnight. October 2006. A bedroom in Rome. A spunky thirty-something lays reading “What to Expect While You are Expecting.” She is six-weeks pregnant. Next to her, the baby’s father reads something in Italian and unrelated to their growing zygote.


We need to talk.

The man looks worried.


(Pregnant pause — no pun intended). Okay. Tell me.


What’s your philosophy on education?


Come? (what?)


Education. Schooling. What do you think?


Eh, I think he has to go school.


Well, obviously! (irritated). But what is important to you? Do you believe in public schools or are you partial to private? And where do you think he should go to university?

Another pregnant pause is followed by a suspicious look.

Mother-to-be continues:

I mean, in which country?


Ma, it’s a joke, no?

IT WASN’T A joke. And I was playing the role of mother-to-be. Now I am an actual mother and the zygote is a living, breathing human baby person. Since Oedipus was born, I have been more laxed (is laxed a word?). But education has always been important. Personal Note: Yes, Mom! I have stopped drilling him with flashcards.

Last October, I spoke to a colleague about an international school in Rome which her daughter attends. Curious, I asked her about the program. She raved. I was happy to hear positive things and kept the info filed away in my noggin for the day when I’d need to start shopping for schools for my son.

The next day, my phone rang. It was said colleague. “You’ve got to hurry!” she said. “There aren’t many spots for 2010!” My baby was 18-months-old and I had to HURRY!?! The psycho-mother-to-be in me kicked in to overdrive and I immediately downloaded the application, called the school and made an appointment to see the head master.

The application was a joke as it included questions like: “How many languages does your child speak?” Answer: None. Unless you count his own monosyllabic babble. And “What schools has your child attended?” Answer: Again — none. He was still wearing diapers!

As the day of our meeting drew close, I grew confident all would go well. After all, I wasn’t applying for the Dalton School or Sidwell Friends. I assumed admission was based upon ability to pay and that the meeting was nothing more than a tour to make sure I’d be happy with the curriculum and facility.

The campus was cheery. The inside was full of visual stimuli and tech-savvy classrooms. Outside they had a great playground, tennis courts and a soccer field. Marco was impressed and I was satisfied.

When the headmaster greeted us, Oedipus decided to flip out and flail in Marco’s arms. He wanted more of the playground. I suggested Marco take him there so I could see what this guy had to offer. I didn’t want to lay down mad cash for finger-painting if I didn’t agree with his educational philosophies or teaching techniques. That’s right, folks… psycho-school mommy was ready for some scholastic action

Turns out… I did like what he had to say. I liked that he allowed me to interject my own expectations about my son’s education. We left the school feeling that we’d found the “right” place for our bilingual and physically frenetic offspring.

That night I sent the headmaster an email thanking him for his time and told him I looked forward to sending my son to his school. The next morning, he replied telling me that Oedi would be enrolled in the fall of 2010. I was pleased.

“How much costs?” asked Marco.

“Don’t worry about it,” I said knowing it was better that he not know.

Weeks later, my colleague asked me, “Have you met with the school yet?”

“Oh, yeah!” I said enthusiastically. “It went well.”

“So now, you just have to wait to hear,” she said.

“Hear what?”

“If he gets in or not,” she replied.

“Oh, he’s in,” I confirmed.

ALREADY?” she asked incredulously. “When was your meeting?”

“A few weeks ago.”

“And you already heard?”

“I heard the next day.”

“You did?”

“Isn’t that normal?” I was clueless.

“No! Usually it takes months and there is a long wait list… even for 2011. What did you say to him?” She was nearly accusatory.

I had no idea what I had said to convince this man that my son had the scholastic goods. I also had no idea that he was interviewing me — truth be told, I thought I was the conductor. And maybe that was it… maybe psycho-scholastic Mommy was so large and in charge that he thought, “This is the woman to run my future bake sales and coordinate back to school nights. This chick is PTA ready and volunteer-friendly.”

Whatever the case, Oedipus has a school, and now I just have to worry about Harvard. Truth be told, I’d be happy with Brown, Columbia or even Princeton.

About the Author:

Kissy Dugan's "Parenthood" column ran from 2007 through 2016.