free hit counter Snacks, please!: aaaah! And what about our service project??!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

aaaah! And what about our service project??!

Before I had three children and lost my mind, I used to read those stories about crazy Manhattan mothers, desperate to get their babies into the "right" preschool and laugh uproariously. Like this: hahahahaha -- go get a latte, Gwyneth! But now, it appears as if the laugh is on me, because gaddammit Josephine and Margaret are numbers 32 and 33, respectively, on the waiting list for the two open slots at the Methodist preschool.

Oh, you Methodists... you think you're so great since you don't have Hell. (Ah, but you do! And it's this goddamn waiting list!!)

So, let's review: Two years ago, we tried to get Lucy into the crazy Montessori school. When they rejected us, we opted for the Baptists instead, where Lucy's teacher wraps neat tissue-paper dresses on the naked Barbies that our long-haired heathen brings for show-and-tell on Fridays.

But it's an all-day program and, let's face it, these babies are crazy. So we ventured reluctantly into the world of half-day programs and parent co-ops. There are many such programs in Arlington, where it seems many many MANY mothers have been researching the options since pregnancy. And they all know each other. And they all knit during gymnastics. And they all have sons named Eamon, girls named Emma. Oh, and what else? Naturally thin, of course.

Sooo, first I can rule out the preschools where there is no "random lottery," where instead they tell you to come visit, meet the "parent board," and then "assignments will be made." (Good use of passive tense...) This all seems way too much like picking kids for dodge ball and I NEVER GOT PICKED FIRST.

My first choice appears to be the Unitarian preschool. I believe I have mentioned by love-from-a-distance for the Unitarians. Help the homeless! Learn to contra dance! This particular school would require an awful lot of MY time, what with the volunteer hours required for three children, plus the "parent education" demands, not to mention the rotating snack-making requirements...

Oh! They're having an open house!! All five of us will attend. Aha. First dilemma: Should I wear my super-cool purple and pink suede coat. (I am serious. It is awesome.) On the one hand, I might appear to be a hip mama. (I know, I know, it's supposed to be a "random lottery," but do we really believe that??? It's not like Unitarians have Hell if they're lying...) On the other, I suspect the Unitarians are all about "animal rights," whatever those are, and maybe somebody will throw paint on me. There is an awful lot of paint in preschool classrooms.

Ah well, it's raining. Question answered. Now... Be friendly. Even to the naturally thin mothers who represent your competition for the very few open positions. Be inquisitive. But not too inquisitive! Control tendencies to ask critical questions about qualifications of teaching staff. Be supportive. Say things like, "Oh! I love what you've done with the learning centers!!"

Leave this can never possibly happen. There are 200 people there! For like five open slots! And Margaret touched all the doughnuts!!!

Go back for a "classroom visit" because you want to show your interest. Understand that it is a "random lottery," yes, yes, yes, but still, you are very interested. Really. Seriously. And you make awesome snacks. For teachers too! Oh yes. (You're qualified, right? Aaaaah! I didn't meant that!)

So, where are we??

Well, well, well. We got our letter from the Unitarians yesterday and Margaret is Number TWO on the waiting list. Point proved again, Margaret is a lucky baby -- and she has been since conception. Josephine is number... like 62? And Lucy is somewhere in between. Of course, if Margaret gets in, then Josie and Lucy pop to the top of their respective waiting lists.

Could they actually get in?? Who knows?! In the meantime, the babies remain on the waiting list at Lucy's school. There are no guarantees about their admittance there, but chances are good. One big difference: If they all go to Lucy's school, we will no longer have an au pair. If they go to the Unitarians, we will need to hire a third because our lovely Julia intends to abandon us in August for her cutie-pie boyfriend and a university program in education. Sad, sad, sad.

She says to me, "But what will you do if they get in nowhere?"

Oh my. Start working on college apps, I think.


Blogger What A Card said...

It's so stressful, isn't it? My boys didn't get into my 1st choice preschool. It was ridiculous with 100 kid waiting lists...

We're at our 2nd choice preschool, and now we're trying to buy a new house and I'm FLIPPING OUT that we might move up to 45 minutes away. If we do that, how am I EVER going to find them a new preschool? Will I really be shlepping them 45 minutes 3 times a week to go to a 3 hour program?? With a new baby in tow? Sadly, that's probably easier than finding them a new preschool program whenever we finally find a new house and decide where we're living (it could be August by then! Or later! I'll never get them into preschool!)

Oh, sorry, I just flipped out all over your blog! I meant to say "I feel your pain, good luck!"

Ah, preschool. Giving us a good ol' taste of what the college search will be like.

March 6, 2009 at 12:00 PM  
Blogger Pamela said...

I'm so confused! Can't you get a dog who will watch them? It worked in Peter Pan.

Did you mock the knitting moms? I know you did...

March 6, 2009 at 6:59 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Claire went to the UU preschool for 2 years, it's pretty low key and has a fab playground. We left a program in DC when Claire got her epi pen (they couldn't keep/use it) and got a spot in Arlington due to pure luck (a family with twins had just moved). We really liked it but it is a LOT of time, sometimes way more than they said to expect, for a whole bunch of reasons. I'll keep my fingers crossed that you get some good options. :) We are having the same problem with G, no luck at all with the lotteries.

March 7, 2009 at 5:04 AM  
Blogger Mary Ellen said...

Card -- I hear you! There's always those people (like my friend Jennifer below!) who get lucky and walk right into an open position...but for two?! How likely is that... Books on tapes, my friend!
Jennifer -- You should start a school!! Why not?! There's obviously a huge demand out there.
Pamela -- Are you kidding?? I only mock what I envy ;)

March 7, 2009 at 10:59 AM  
Anonymous Lyn said...

Preschool Schmeelschool. Your kiddos will do fine anywhere you put them. They are creative to the max and that's what is going to be important in THEIR future. Neither of mine did a preschool program but they attended a small, in home daycare situation with a teacher wannabee caregiver that was awesome.

March 7, 2009 at 11:51 AM  
Blogger Meg said...

Ack! Preschools!! We're stuck with sending Ozzie to the nuns next year 3X a week. Which--as a horribly laspsed Catholic--really worried me until I met them and found out they're Indian! Like Mother Theresa. Not hard-core fire and brimstone nuns at all.

Mother Theresa-ish nuns are only one step below Sally-Field-guitar-playing nuns on the lapsed-Catholic-hierarchy-of-comfort.

March 7, 2009 at 5:12 PM  

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