By Janine Marino
When Grace asked me to guest edit this issue, slated to focus on some of the many exceptional children we had in the area, I thought, ”exceptional,” that’s one of the descriptors that sold me on Chappaqua in the first place.
I’ll never forget my first day at the bus stop seven years ago. I ran down in sweats, no bra, yesterday’s mascara and some serious bed head. Before me stood a perfectly put-together woman, right down to the Gucci shoes. There were other women in various degrees of “fabulous” and yeah, I was not one of them. I thought to myself, well at least I wasn’t wearing my PJs like I did in my old town! (And I won Best Dressed at that bus stop.) Everyone was pretty nice, but, regardless, I just couldn’t break into a conversation. They had obviously known each other for a long time and I was the new girl. I wondered how my kids would fare.
I’d quickly come to learn that Chappaqua had a large chunk of type A people. Me, I teeter between B + and A -. Before I even moved here, a friend of mine had signed me up for two PTA committees at Roaring Brook. Uh…thanks? I was thrust right into the thick of it. I enjoyed the exuberant involvement these parents had. They seemed to know everything about anything that had to do with the school and the town. I also enjoyed the first back to school night…sushi and Starbucks…a far cry from the two boxes of Entenmann’s at my last school. I quickly learned that my kids were behind the curve, not having private pitching lessons or voice lessons in second and fourth grades. I was also concerned that maybe my then three-year-old would not be able to color in the lines because I hadn’t sent him to the double-the-price preschool that many seemed to be raving about. But still, I liked that everyone had a definite opinion…let’s call it “passion” for…you name it!
One thing I cannot deny here in Chappaqua is the real sense of community. People want the best for the town, their kids, the schools, everything. There are so many helpful, charitable people. Someone will bring you soup when you’re sick or pick up your kids when you are stuck. Sure, there are plenty of entitled folks too, but I’m quick to point out to my kids the good eggs and try to nip in the bud any spoiled behavior. No, I will not bring Frappuccinos to my 16-yr-old and her friends at Greeley in the middle of a school day. (And yes, I was asked.)
With two in high school now, I’m really starting to feel the pressures that go along with this great town. Kids are thinking about college in 9th grade. My son Steven at 14 already knows exactly what he needs to get into Syracuse. And, of course, every kid is “expected” to take multiple AP classes and have private tutoring (because, you know, a B is failing).
Seems everyone has to have “an edge.” You need to apply for early action to college. If you don’t, your kids will feel “left out.” Juniors are already posting their college visits on Facebook and Instagram. My 11th grader, Michaela, hasn’t been anywhere yet. Perhaps it’s because I’ve downgraded my type A-/B+ personality to a B- to counterbalance. I’m not sure. But I promise, we will get there soon, and my first will be off and running.
There’s no doubt there’s a lot of keeping up and aiming high that comes along with living in Chappaqua. However, I think my kids will come out feeling very lucky to be part of this exceptionally beautiful and spirited town. And maybe, just maybe….they’ll have an edge.
Janine Marino is a freelance copywriter and creative marketing consultant as well as the Marketing/Creative Director for the Chappaqua Children’s Book Festival. She’s an avid tennis player, makeup junkie and according to her kids, a “weird but, fun” mom.