Last week John and I were at the park pushing Sydney on the swing and we started chatting with the mama beside us, as parents often do. Her baby was nine months old and looked like a veritable DWARF compared to Syd (and yes, the mama, whose name was Amy ALSO looked like a jacked-up dwarf standing next to me because she was a Jillian Michaels look-alike I am not even kidding GOSH I HATE LA SOMETIMES). Her older son pushed around on a "borrowed" Little Mermaid scooter and somehow she started telling us about how he'd just started preschool and why just yesterday she'd toured a preschool for "this one!" And she pointed to the average-sized peanut of a nine-month-old who sleepily lolled in the swing.
Ahem, excuse me?
She went on to tell us that the "really good" preschools had a waiting list of up to SIX YEARS. Can we do math for a moment? This means – assuming that Syd begins preschool at age three – that I should have gotten on a waiting list THREE YEARS AGO. WHEN I WAS LIVING IN ANOTHER STATE AND HAD ONLY BEEN MARRIED FOR 2.5 YEARS AND WAS NOT EVEN PREGNANT. PLEASE EXCUSE THE CAPS LOCK BUT YOU ARE KIDDING ME, RIGHT?!
This conversation struck a fear in my heart that I can only imagine is rivaled by the developmental "milestones" my daughter occasionally hits that totally expand her world view and TOTALLY FREAK HER THE FREAK OUT. My heart started palpitating as I realized that I would actually have to enroll my daughter in preschool one day … soon. And just when this whole parenting thing is actually starting to get manageable I realize that CRAP my kid is not going to stay in this cute sweet little package FOREVER. That this little sweet spot in life I'm experiencing is only temporary. Can I just re-emphasize HOW MUCH THAT SUCKS?!
The other issue that this raised for me is that I actually have to consider that my daughter might go to school in Los Angeles. That I might actually have to make plans that stretch out over time and space and into the future. The last few years things have been difficult for various reasons, one of which is that my husband's "day job" as a college instructor has not been the most stable as he works on two different campuses. We know that he has to find something else to do to keep us afloat while we do ministry and I guess somewhere along the line I got my heart set on that something else being somewhere else. Living in Los Angeles is one thing, but raising your kids here is another. Right now I have some semblance of control over what my daughter is exposed to. And people, let me remind you that I WORK in a public school and I know EXACTLY what's going on there. And so the idea of combining THAT – that being school, OUTSIDERS – with my precious, innocent baby?! Aneurysm. I can seriously feel my eye twitching right now as I write this.
I realize that preschool is not for everyone, and who knows maybe Syd won't end up going (but as she is the most social person I HAVE EVER MET, somehow I doubt that she'll turn up her nose at the chance to play with other kids like EVERY DAY). I really don't see myself as a homeschool teacher (NO, NO, NOOOOO), and I know that yes, someday she will have to go to school.
But do I really, really have to sign her up right now? Do I have to think about it? Do I need to tour schools and get on a waiting list for crying out loud? I really don't think I can handle it. Need I remind you … MY BABY!?