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The Preschool Process

Here is the nutty rat race  we went through last year getting H into preschool. Those whose kids are in daycare have escaped this crazy process for the time being, but believe you me, if you are considering private schools, this is in your future.

I had NO idea how competitive, crazy, ridiculous this process is for children who can barely speak. Applications, tours, interviews, references in many cases. This obviously is increasingly insane the closer you are to the big city.

I was recently approached by friends who have hired specialists to help give them the right answers on the applications, have made donations, and were seeking references for the schools they were applying to next year. Hmmm, I thought, maybe I should start thinking about it. As I started calling around, it became evident I had missed the boat on 90% of the schools. Good news was the school I was really interested in for H had one last tour scheduled. Phew! I started researching the school and discovered only 50% of applicants are accepted. Seriously?

So I went to the coffee talk/tour. They gave us a short list of things we were to say about ourselves as we went around the room. Of course I forgot one of the things and had to be reminded. Oh no, did I blow it? Just kidding, I didn’t really think that, but there definitely was a little bit of butterfly sensation and wanting to make a good impression. After the tour and talk, I was more sure than ever this was the place I wanted Hayden to be next year. So next was the application. I don’t think I put this much thought into my college application. Okay, that’s not true either, but I did put way too much thought into questions like “Describe your child in three adjectives.” Thoughts of “If I put this, they might think that” swamed through my head for days. Once I finally sealed the envelope, I couldn’t trust the mail with it. I drove to the school and dropped it off myself. See, the school told me once they had accepted x number of children, they would turn away all others. So time was of the essence.

We received a call that we were being granted an interview and that Hayden must come. Wait, they wanted to interview him? Now, H is a great kid, but in my opinion, asking him to sit through an interview is not setting him up to show his best skills. I was nervous!

The night before the interview, we had to spend the night on the other side of the mountain pass. My husband was in the middle of a campaign running for attorney general, and his schedule was insane. We had to reschedule the interview three times. We definitely were going to make it work coming from far away in the morning. I went to sleep picturing the perfect outfits we would be wearing. The plan was to get up early and swing by our house to get ready on the way to the meeting. H was sick and we were up all night. I woke up with this panicky feeling. Oh, no. We had overslept AND a blizzard came through while we were sleeping. No time to go home for clothes. Hayden had on sweat pants with dog hair and bits of sucker all over them. I had sweat pants and Uggs. Reagan of course looked great. The pass was crawling, and we arrived half an hour late. Looked terrible and, to top it off, H announced he went poo poo as we parked. Thank goodness he was fibbing, because we didn’t have an extra diaper. The “interview” went great. H loved the school. He loved it so much that he threw a temper tantrum because he didn’t want to part with the toys and leave the school. H doesn’t throw many tantrums, so I knew he really wasn’t feeling well and needed to see a doctor. Turns out he had an ear infection, a sinus infection, and pink eye. Poor guy! I wanted to call the school and tell them, hoping they would look past the tantrum. I didn’t, though. I let it go, thinking they would have to be crazy to let this crazy family in the school. Anyway, good news arrived that a Christmas miracle had happened and H got in. Phew! I shared this story with my dad, and he laughed. He had to go through this a million times with three kids. I think parents must get some strange sort of pleasure watching their kids go through parenting drama similar to what they went through.

Part of me wants to rebel. I’m not going to buy into this crazy rat race of a process for a two-year-old. But then I remember, this isn’t about me and my stupid issues with the system. It’s about H and providing the best environment for his learning style and needs. If we only applied to one school and it made me that nutty, I can’t imagine what others who apply to several must go through. After all this, I sure hope he likes his new school. 😉

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