The Competitive Underworld of Preschool Admissions

Okay so there’s no actual “underworld” here, per se, but I wanted a dramatic title for uhm, drama? Little is getting bigger, older, faster, wiser, and we’re vaccinated so F and I decided it’s probably a good time to send him to preschool at the end of the year. A fancy smancy private daycare, not because we can afford it (we can’t!), but because my days of dealing with sketchy daycares are in the past. I was born in the eighties, yall, and if anyone knows a thing or two about dodgy basement daycares it’s me.

Pretty sure when I was growing up the only requirement to watch other people’s children was the ability to communicate that you were willing to watch other people’s children. It was like, “Okay kids, you’re going to stay with this lady named, er, Barbara, I think? Anyhow, be back later. Don’t be a cry baby, Jesus christ, she’s not scary, some ladies just like to hold a flaming torch to match their HORNS FROM SATAN.” I wish I was exaggerating but one of my daycares led to a police investigation (my infant brother was physically abused there), and the other led to me being suspended after I told all of the Mormon kids where babies come from (including a sand diagram and a fearful warning to protect their eggs from Sea Men at all costs–thanks for the age three sex ed lesson, mom).

Right now you might be thinking, WOW, SO MANY OF YOUR PARENTING POSTS ARE ABOUT NOT BEING LIKE YOUR PARENTS! And yeah, you bet your ass they are! I take all of the good things I got from my folks (despite my many jokes about them, they passed on great things too) and use those things in my parenting toolbox, but dodgy daycares was not one of those things. Nor is skipping seatbelts or chain smoking with the windows rolled up or having a boyfriend who takes you and your toddler on adventures to his MUSK RAT SKINNING ROOM. I digress. So yes, I’m sending my tot to a private school. I will have to work a billion jobs and probably never buy new clothes again but it will be worth it (I hope).

Since I went to eleven different public schools, I know nothing of private school or like linear learning. It’s been so crazy to learn all of the different education modalities and how they’re used. There’s Waldorf and Montessori and Catholic and language immersion school and Sudbury which sounds like a laundry detergent and the Harkness method which sounds a lot like something you’d learn in business school and more and more. And then once you choose that part, you have to apply, do an orientation, and two interviews with the school. Two. One for the parents and one for the toddler. This part makes me giggle because I like to imagine Little sitting in a suit fumbling with his tie like, “I’m a real go-getter, big fan of pooping and/or “making a walrus” and also snacks. And here are my references.”

I imagine they’re just looking at temperament more than anything (and probably eyeing us to see if we will actually pay our tuition–look at those dirty converse! Not accepted!) which will be interesting because my little gets reaaaaaally active when he’s nervous or uncomfortable (see this post here). If I get frustrated with him, he doesn’t get those big puppy dog eyes or cry or turn inward, he laughs hysterically. He doesn’t actually think it’s funny, it’s how he emotes. And it took me a while to figure that out. For a few months I was like Uh, oh, is he gonna be a murderer? No. Turns out, no. Excitability is how he shows all discomfort. It’s a whole thing. A class full of strange kids he doesn’t know is right in line with a thing that might make him run laps in the room while screaming “I am a hedgehog” on repeat.

Wish me luck.

If you have terrifying eighties daycare stories to share put them below. Or tips on picking a school. Or an experience with one of the schools I listed OR other schools I’ve never heard of because I know nothing.

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