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!?


Just shoot me.


8 thoughts on “Pre-preschool

  1. anne nahm says:

    Here was my experience with that (although experiences vary, naturally): When my oldest was 1 and a half, a bunch of the other moms in my Mommy & Me started talking about preschools and the horror of the wait list, and that their kid was on two and three back-up wait lists to assure getting into at least one school, and did I know that if I hadn’t already signed up I was completely Effed?

    When I looked around, most preschools did indeed say they had a waiting list, and would not really ball park how long it took to get into school because of the multi-back-up issue.

    One of these schools that made the moms all make the ‘O’ face (while I toured, a potential mom actually left a muffin basket with the front office ‘just because’) also had a bunch of other rules, like every kid *had* to go 5 days a week, so I knew it wasn’t right for us (and thus cannot verify anything about the wait list).

    Of the other three schools I applied to and freaked out about until September when new classes started, SURPRISE! All of them ended up having openings, and the one I did choose, SURPRISE AGAIN didn’t even have a problem giving me the days/times I wanted.

    And even more pissy? I wanted at the time for my kid to be in preschool, but applied when she was probably a little younger than I would have sent her. Then, when she got in, I went ahead and put her in, figuring all the other kids her age were going (since all the mothers were talking that panic-get-them-in-quick thing). Turned out my kid was the only one of all those big talking moms who was actually in school that September.

    Anyway, I was all shades of freaked about the whole process. My mom gave me the best advice about the whole thing, and that was this: Nobody ever got into Harvard based on what preschool they attended. And also, unless the school is actually mistreating the kids, they are going to all be fine.

    Hope this ranty-rant helps!

  2. maggie says:

    Many of my 2.5 yo’s friends are in preschool. I just don’t think about it. What? Preschool? Isn’t that for when they’re, like, FOUR?

    Seriously, the home preschool down the street (and I am praying there IS a home preschool down the street by the time I need one!) will be good enough for us. I’ve been grateful not to meet any of those Waiting List Moms, but I KNOW THEY’RE OUT THERE. ACK.

  3. Rachel says:

    You’re kid doesn’t have to go to preschool. When you feel ready to think about it, start asking around at your work or church. You’ll find the right one.

    The program I just enrolled LG in supposedly had a long waiting list too, but I got both him and SB in for the day I wanted, in the same class, in August like I hoped.

  4. Liz says:

    I’m a huge fan of play groups. Isn’t that what preschool is until the kids are 3/4 anyway? Teach them how to share, talk nicely to friends, etc.

    I mean, I understand the principle of teaching a child how to sit still and listen, stand in line, you know, the banalities and logistics of actual school, but let’s time that for when their little brains are ready to learn things like that, right? I mean really? At two years old? Please. Glorified day care for a couple hours a day. And that is only my opinion, of course.

  5. Lady in a Smalltown says:

    My 4 month old little guy is in a childcare program we LOVE. I actually said to my husband, we can’t have a baby before he turns three so that we can guarantee the next baby gets his spot. We live in a very small town, but i am considering calling the nursery school I want him to go to now, just to find out if they have a waiting list.

    That does sound kind of obsessive doesn’t it? Well, in reality, I started calling about childcare in January, baby due in May, back to school in late August, and really got down to it after he was born.

  6. ANNIE says:

    Despite the fact that both Tim and I went to preschool, we’re not planning on sending our boys. Not at this point, anyway. I’m confident that we’ve got enough going on with them at home and in various activities that they’ll be ready for kindergarten when the time comes. That said, I had Christopher at his 3 year checkup last week when I was questioned on this very topic by our (totally wonderful omigosh I love her so much) pediatrician. When I told her what I just told you (the schooling plan, not the eternal devotion part) she was relatively cool with it but did go on to give me a slight lecture on the benefits of preschool and how kindergarten teachers always love having kids who have already been in “school.” I thanked her and moved on with my life. Not to say that things won’t change for us, but for now, we’re just not headed that way.

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