The Not Ready for Preschool-Time Players

This morning as I sat in the preschool tour group, I found myself sizing every parent up. The one in the grey shirt, she couldn't brush her hair for this? Wow, that's some ugly tie that guy is wearing. Oh, that mom HAS to be named Muffy.


The people who might normally be my friends (except for the Muffy who looked about as interesting as dryer lint) were suddenly my competition as we were informed by the director that last year, 250 people applied for 47 preschool slots. With priorities given to legacies.

We are not legacies.

As it turned out, I had no need to feel competitive since all the parents in the room were there on behalf of kids yet to turn two. Leaving me the sole idiot mom in the room (if not in all of New York City) applying to a threes program, for a kid whose current version of school is dancing with mommy to the Bangles in the living room, identifying the letters on her alphabet cookies (organic!) and talking back to Dora on the TV. Where are we going? Big blue mountain! Where are we going? Big blue mountain!

Shut up. Noggin is like preschool on TV.

(See? I did not make this up.)

You cannot even imagine the psychosis that preschool application time inspires throughout the boroughs of New York City each Fall. You could poke your head into any place where parents gather, whisper preschool and watch 80 heads whip around, Exorcist-style. It's like college application time. Only much, much, much much worse.

I swore I would not get wrapped up in it when our time came. Heck, Metrodad is avoiding it entirely. And by not getting wrapped up I mean total denial. Just ask Mrs. Crouton Boy who gave me such a You Poor Sweet Delusional Woman look when I ran into her at lunchtime and told her that we were just applying to the one school. One? As in...one?

Yes, one. The only one that managed to fit me in for the requisite tour considering I called a good five weeks after all the Together Mommies had done the right thing and called at precisely 8:01 AM the Tuesday after Labor Day.

The thing is? Call it kismet but oh my dear sweet lord did I love this school. Loooooooved. The director. The teachers. The philosophy. The walking distance from our apartment. It just...felt like me. Like Thalia. Even if we applied to ten schools this would be the only one I want for her.

I loved it in direct disproportion to our chances of getting in.

And so I am going to turn in our one application and hope really really hard that they get to meet Thalia in person and see what a geeeeenius she is and what an absolute perfect addition she would be to their classroom which is surely in need of a middle-class white girl to create some diversity. How Thalia's the kid with the great sense of humor, even if she doesn't know why we're laughing. The girl with the amazingly developed sense of empathy. Who doesn't freak out (too much) if another kid takes her toys. Who listens so hard to the bird sounds in the country and tries to differentiate the Jays from the chipmunks. The girl so filled with goodness that she can love even the most unlovable creatures of this planet.

In return, the preschool can do me the honor of billing me close to 5-figures so that my daughter can climb on a jungle gym, play with trains and eat paste.

The best part is, you don't even get charged extra for the paste they eat. It's included in the price and everything.


Blogger kittenpie said...

Good luck! Fingers crossed and all.

(And I have to laugh about the "geeeenius" because it's exactly what misterpie and I made fun of all through the first couple of years. "She found her toes! she's a geeeenius!")

11/27/07, 6:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Free paste? Sign me up!

Just wait til Thalia uses a glue stick as Chap Stick!


11/27/07, 6:22 PM  
Blogger Julie Pippert said...

I SWEAR by a good preschool. Especially for kindergarten preparedness. ESPECIALLY for mean girl preparedness.

I got down on my knees and kissed the feet of our preschool teacher from last year for teaching my daughter how to let mean girls roll off her back.

So I hear your desire.

Now I just hope you get that slot. How could they turn you down?


Using My Words

11/27/07, 6:47 PM  
Blogger motherbumper said...

Fingers crossed for you.

And we did the same thing - applied for one because I'll be damned, I'm gonna sleep with that mothergoose looking lady if that's what it takes to get Bumper into that slice of heaven (I am so hoping for a mass exodus to the suburbs by all the other applicants because I'm gonna need a lot of alcohol to work up my loving eyes for that lady).

11/27/07, 6:53 PM  
Blogger Be Inspired Always said...

I got my fingers crossed for you too. I'm sure they will fall in love with your daughter just like everyone else has that gets the chance to meet her.

She sounds like a little gem.


11/27/07, 6:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seems like you are in the wrong business. What you need to do is start yourself up a preschool.

11/27/07, 7:16 PM  
Blogger Motherhood Uncensored said...

We should start our own preschool. The only difference between mine is yours is that generally the dancing is done with no clothes.

11/27/07, 7:43 PM  
Blogger the new girl said...



I can't imagine the pressure that pre-school puts on parents these days. I went in the basement of some church somewhere.


Maybe that's why I never really *made it.*


11/27/07, 8:49 PM  
Blogger b*babbler said...

Yikes. Sounds a lot like some of the daycare drama that goes around in these parts. I started checking out daycares when Peanut was six months old, and fell in love with one. The look I got when I said that we wanted to get her in that fall was priceless. We still haven't heard from them.

Good luck! I can't see how they could possibly turn her down.

11/27/07, 9:03 PM  
Blogger PunditMom said...

I love it when they include the paste! When we moved to D.C., PunditGirl was not yet two and I was told I was already too late to apply to preschools for her year when she turned three. Somehow, fate was with us, but only three mornings a week.

As for Thalia, how can they not take her -- her mom is a famous NYC personality! ;)

11/27/07, 9:14 PM  
Blogger Julie Marsh said...

I hate to think of how Tacy's years at the barrio daycare in NJ will affect her college applications. We might as well start planning for community college, if we get that lucky.

(Or so Muffy would conclude, I'm sure.)

11/27/07, 9:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh. Crap. Lucas is two months older than Thalia and I haven't even started thinking about preschool. I hope things aren't as competitive out here in suburbia/hicksville. But I'm probably soooo wrong... Let's hope they include the paste.

11/27/07, 9:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bangles reference! Awesome.

If Thalia can air-guitar to "Hazy Shade of Winter" during her interview, she'll be a shoo-in.

11/27/07, 10:17 PM  
Blogger Lawyer Mama said...

Hey, I completely agree that Noggin is educational.

Good luck!

11/27/07, 10:32 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

But Laid off Dad...that's a S&G cover. Do you think that would bode well for true 80s fans that might be present at the interview? Should she perhaps learn Manic Monday?

11/27/07, 10:55 PM  
Blogger kevin black said...

I never taught in a program that welcomed rugrats that young, but I can tell you from having worked with principals and directors that you might do yourself a favor by telling the director of the program exactly what you told us here. Let it be known that this was the only program you signed up for because this was the program you felt most strongly mirrored what you were trying to give to your kid. Telling the director his program rocks beyond all others is like the director telling the parent her child is above average. You might also add that you looked into several programs before making your decision. Make mention of the fact that you have a little one and for the future would like to know how early you can get her on the list. With the right schmoozing, anyone can become a legacy.

11/27/07, 11:42 PM  
Blogger carrie said...

They would be fools not to accept Thalia! Fools!

Good luck.

11/28/07, 12:30 AM  
Blogger Jenni said...

Ok, all our preschools are chains or run out of a church where the kids are obviously borrowing the Sunday school rooms. Unless you qualify for headstart in the public schools, that is.

So, I guess our dancing in the family room to Sublime with me screaming Chinchilla over any "ugly" words is THE preschool of choice in our neck of the woods! lol

11/28/07, 1:47 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

WOW - best of luck! How could they not want your little one???? Think of the smear campaign you could blog if by chance Thalia is not one of the few chosen!!!!!

Extremities crossed!

11/28/07, 5:59 AM  
Blogger Mahlers On Safari said...

Just think about all those poor children in China who don't get to go to preschool at all...

11/28/07, 8:09 AM  
Blogger Fraulein said...

Wow -- I wonder why it's so competitive in New York? I'm here in a suburb very close to Boston, and I looked at a couple of places, picked one, submitted the application and my kid was in. No waiting lists, no problems. It does seem like there are as many preschools as Dunkin Donuts here, so maybe that's it. Just not enough supply in New York. Anyway, best of luck -- I hope Thalia gets in to the one you wanted!

11/28/07, 10:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gad, what a nightmare! We're not so competitive here, but I did have the preschool my older child went to tell me they didn't think they were the right people for my younger child. They were right.

But I do like Kevin's advice. Good luck!

11/28/07, 11:05 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

It's not only in New York where it's super competitive. It's ALL over. Even in Alabamer, you'd hear comments like "So-So school is the BEST kindergarten prep program in the city!"

Kindergarten prep? WTF?


I did end up sending both of mine to K4 but I purpose steered clear of the school everyone thought was the best...the competition was ridiculous. But even at my "second-class" school, you have to be in line to turn in your app FIRST thing in the morning to get in before slots are gone.

The whole preschool business has gotten WAY out of hand.

11/28/07, 11:08 AM  
Blogger josetteplank.com said...

Well, la-di-da! Free paste at your school!

I guess I'll just go without brushing my hair and put on my lint-shirt!

My first child went to a Sudbury preschool, which is all about doing nothing but whatever it is you want to do. Very much like at home. Except you pay for it.

My second child went to a church preschool for $80 a month where they sat on mats, ate snacks and learned holiday finger plays. I don't think they had an educational philosophy other than "Don't hit" and "Wash your hands often."

Of course, my children were only on the slow track to public school, where they would have to bring in their own paste to eat. (Sometimes I mix in wheatgerm to boost the nutritional content.)

Any advantages of our high-falutin' preschool learnin' would be completely erased by 3rd grade when every brain cell is focused to the task of passing the NCLB PSSA tests. Here in PA, we don't need smart; just passing.

Anyway, good luck. The school does sound perfect. If she doesn't get in, I'm starting a homeschool preschool co-op in my house. Again, no free paste but I'll teach your child how to wash floors and strip wallpaper.

11/28/07, 11:21 AM  
Blogger toyfoto said...

Ittybit goes to a preschool (cooperative) and the teachers scare the piss out of me. I am always fucking up. I wish my kids NEVER had to go to school.

You just don't know fear until you've had Marilla Cuthbert clicking her tongue as she looks at you after seeing your daughter, who dresses herself.

I suppose the good part is ALL the parents are scared, so we stick together. There's no backstabbing in this preschool.

11/28/07, 1:11 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

The school thing is nuts here too in glamorous Nashville. Hubs grew up here and provided us legacy at all the private schools we don't want for our kids!! (Expensive and overrated - yes, that's what his parents aimed for)

Good luck!!

11/28/07, 1:14 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Either it isn't that competitive here in Columbus, or I'm clearly in the wrong circles. Or I just haven't even looked at the tip-top preschools because they cost more than my mortgage.

Cordy goes to the super-secret school district preschool because of her autism. While the school district as a whole has a horrible reputation, the preschool is the best special needs preschool in the city. The bonus is it's free.

Good luck with getting into the preschool! You could always bribe them with promotion on your blog and an advance copy of the Safer Toy guide each year.

11/28/07, 2:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is hilarious. I just went on the "observation" for a 2 1/2's class today and loved it. Luckilly, though I didn't have to deal with any unkempt parents or waiting lists. Ah, the benefits of the Midwest! good luck.

11/28/07, 2:33 PM  
Blogger Gray Matter Matters said...

I think you know what I'm going to say...the suburbs of your youth beckon you...Liiiiiz, Liiiiiz, come north. And the public schools, fuggedaboutit, I hear they produce some excellent students who go on to be world-renowned ad gals, authors, cum blogger/entrepeneurs. See you at Cosi's!

11/28/07, 2:46 PM  
Blogger caramama said...

I'm in the DC area, and apparently it's hard to even get into Water Babies! We're not ready for pre-school and we don't yet have to worry about daycare, although I hear both are nightmares to get into the good ones. I just wanted to sign up at the local indoor pool/rec center and take a Saturday afternoon Water Babies class with my daughter.

I was told they are all full for the classes this session and they fill up quickly for each session. I was told to be at the rec center when the doors open at 6:30 AM on the day the new session is open for enrollment to try to get a spot. WTF? 6:30 AM for WATER BABIES? She's 8 months old!

And you know I'll be there... Any excuse to wear a bathingsuit in the middle of winter with my pasty (though not edible) skin and hairy legs.

Good luck getting Thalia in! She is definitely a super genius!

11/28/07, 4:00 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Reading things like this makes me realized how much I'm NOT cut-out for dealing with other parents or stressing about preschools. I fear this stage of my life.

11/28/07, 4:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You reminded me of that scene at the playground in "Baby Boom" when Diane Keaton's character finds out she can forget preschool for the toddler-relative-soon-to-be-adopted-daughter that just dropped into her life.

I used to wonder (still do sometimes) what the big hairy deal is about getting your kid into preschool. I didn't go to preschool (because there was not such a thing in the little town I grew up in during the 60's.) My mother didn't even go to kindergarten (because it did not exist!) I think she and I both turned out quite smart. But then, neither of our mothers worked. My children cannot say the same.

11/28/07, 9:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good luck, Sweetie - although, I must confess, I loved the cheapo co-op set up the kids and I had here in Jersey - getting into college has GOT to be easier!

11/28/07, 11:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

NYC is insane! I'm really trying to ignore it all. I still refuse to believe that, in the long run, it makes a difference where my daughter goes to pre-school or pre-k.

That being said, I had lunch with a buddy of mine the other day. He's sending his kids to a private pre-school because it's on the same block as his apartment. Aside from the insane admissions procedures, the scariest thing was the cost. Are you sitting down?

It was $30,00/year. You know what that gets you? A few days per week from 9:00-1:00. SO YOU STILL NEED A NANNY!

Let's start a pre-school, Liz. I think we'd make a mint.

11/29/07, 10:48 AM  
Blogger Becoming Mommy said...

It's like that in DC?!?!?

Then heck, I'll tell the Husband to quit teaching and have him instruct Sasha.

At home he could probably learn reading, math, spanish, music, computers, etc. and be lightyears ahead of kindergarten!

11/29/07, 1:52 PM  
Blogger Stimey said...

Applying. For preschool. Yeah, it's a crazy world out there when you have to camp out overnight and go through interviews so your child can build with blocks. But when it's your child, it's the most important thing. Best of luck! :)

11/29/07, 10:59 PM  
Blogger Ruth Dynamite said...

That NYC preschool scene is completely nuts. But you know, I have a sneaking suspicion it's all going to work out just fine. Fine and pasty.

11/30/07, 10:50 PM  
Blogger Movin Mom said...

I did this once, fought for the perfect pre school.
I had my eldest on a waiting list for 1 1/2. Then my second one turned 2 and I thought......oooo I better add his name too. They went through the interview an got right in.....because they needed a boy with a fall birthday which was my second born almost 2 year old.

You would have thought they called me to tell me I won an emmy.

Then the phone rang again and we found out we were moving out of state! It was all for nothing!

12/1/07, 12:37 AM  
Blogger the mystic said...

You're not the first "real" person to tell me these stories, but this NYC preschool madness is just surreal to me. I mean here it's a good idea to check into it the spring before you want to start in the fall. But 2 years in advance? I don't even have to apply that early to grad school for christ sake.

12/11/07, 1:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is one private school in our city that is 60 years old. I've known about it since I was 10 years old. It has the reputation of being the finest school in our state. It is a school I could only ever dream about attending when I was growing up. I put my daughter in this school's toddler program when she was 20 months old. Ordered the application when I was pregnant. I wrote the parent essay, took her to the testing day, jumped through all the required hoops. She's in. I don't care what anyone says or how wrong they think all this competition is. This particular school is Pre Kindergarten through 12th grade, so as long as we keep paying the tuition money, we're set. I have NO regrets.

3/20/08, 2:59 PM  

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