My son applied to 4 colleges last night. He’s going to be sending in his early decision school’s application sometime today. I woke up this morning and almost had to sit back down on my bed as a memory hit me full force. It was yesterday that I was applying for him to go to the Challenge School for kindergarten. We looked at several other kindergartens in case he didn’t get into Challenge, but he’d tell me in his big, booming 5-year old voice each time we left one of the 2nd choice schools, “We can look at these other schools, MOOOM, but I AM going to the SHALLENGE SHZHCHOOL.” I was so wrought with nerves that he wouldn’t be accepted into this wonderful program where I knew he belonged. He had an interview day. We referred to it as “Little Brother Day,” and I told him he was going just to see if he liked how they learned there. I was terrified he might catch on to the fact that he was being evaluated. I would rehearse in my head ways to get him to believe it was he who didn’t like the Challenge School, and not the other way around, in case he wasn’t admitted. I said a silent prayer of thanks on “Little Brother Day” because he had a slight fever complete with an adorable flush. I knew he’d need the fever to calm down his boundless energy if he were to have a chance. Here’s where the optional puzzle comes in. As part of the evaluation, Mrs. Kerstien, took a small group of prospies into the kindergarten room to see how they’d interact as a group. I later found out that when she offered them the chance to work together on a big, farm puzzle, Will took a long look at the box, and replied. “ NO SHANK SHOO, Mrs. KersSHHHHHtien. I don’t think I’m going to do this puzzle. There’zzzz no cat on thish farm.” Optional puzzle. Mrs. Kerstien was a brilliant educator. Of course she neither made him do the puzzle nor judged him poorly for his choice. She respected him. Now he is faced with many “optional” essays on his college applications. No longer truly optional are these hoops he must jump through. And a fever’s not going to help much either. God Speed, Little Toots. And maybe the University of 2nd-choice has better lunch than Dear Old U-Guessed-It.