I was looking forward to taking things easy after the holidays. While Christmas was nowhere near as stessful as it could have been, it was nice to think that the household would go back to normal. And while normal in my house consists an 11 month old screaming at me EVERY TWO MINUTES and a three year old running naked (but accessorized) around the house singing Laurie Berkner songs, there is some comfort in that.
Instead, I have been faced with a pretty daunting challenge that is taking up WAY too much of my blogging time. And that just won't do. I had no idea that trying to register my daughter for preschool would be such a herculean task.
It all started so innocently this fall when I was meeting some of our neighbors.
"Nice to meet you Hausfrau. How old are your daughters?"
"Nice to meet you Bootsy. Baby Girl will be three in December and Peaches is 9 months old."
"That's SUPER! (yes, she said it JUST LIKE THAT) Have you decided where you are going to send Baby Girl to preschool?"
"Uh, no. It doesn't start until next fall, right?"
"Yes, but you have to start applying for schools in January so it really helps if you have narrowed down the schools you would like for her to attend."
"What do you mean, 'narrow down?' Is it that hard for kids to get into preschool?"
"Oh my, YES. Especially if you want her to go to a GOOD school. It is so important for our children to have a solid foundation before they start kindergarten. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blahbity blah."
I thought my neighbor was being a little overdramatic, so I tuned out, said my good-byes and went back to my yard where my husband was waiting for me with a steak and a beer.
The week before Christmas I was with my daughter at her Monday morning art class which is at a church near where we live. On the way out I was given a flier about registering for preschool on January 9. Because my daughter was already in a program at this church she would have a better chance of getting into the preschool. If I registered soon I would find out January 21 if we got in. The only problem was this: the three year old class is only two days a week, 2 1/2 hours a day.
That will not do.
Lemme tell you something about Baby Girl. Baby Girl is highly sociable and has a tremendous amount of energy. She needs to be in preschool longer than that. A lot longer. For all of our sakes.
I figured I would just call a few churches since I thought all of them have preschools and find out who offers the program that best suits our needs. Turns out, there aren't many in my area. I started to get a little worried, so I called my neighbor Bootsy, who had graciously offered to give me her opinions on the options in our town. After 45 minutes on the phone she gave me her three choices. She also was not thrilled with the preschool program at the church that Baby Girl is currently attending. It turns out we had the same concerns about the safety of the facility.
Since my conversation with Bootsy, I have been attending open houses for preschools within a 20 mile radius of our home. I have two more to attend in the next week. I went to an open house on Saturday for a church that offers a 3 day/week preschool. FABULOUS! Well, when I got there, there were 100 parents glaring at each other, sizing up the competition. Competition you ask? Why yes. That's because it is a LOTTERY to get into God Damned preschool. The Director of the program suggested that we should all apply to at least four different schools since they are all on the lottery system. Keep in mind, there is a registration fee for these preschools, and some do not refund the fee if you don't get in. I got really excited to hear about a program that is offered by the school district that is four days a week. It is a unique program that combines six kids who have special needs with six who don't. More importantly, it's FOUR DAYS A WEEK! The only problem with that program is that thousands of families apply for the 48 spots. Thousands. And the registration fee is non-refundable. I would love to know what they are doing with that money since the school is funding by us taxpayers, but I digress.
So here I sit, stressed and irritated. I feel like I am applying to colleges all over again, minus the essay. This insanity should all be over on February 1, when all of the schools complete the general registration and do their lotteries. I just wanted to put my kid in a preschool with a safe environment and a nurturing staff that has classes for more than 5 hours a week. I have no expectations that the preschool my daughter attends will help her to get into Princeton. I just want her to have fun, make some friends and develop socially on her own. I don't care if she learns to read or write while in preschool. If she does, that will just be icing on the cake.