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Stop the Madness!
For the love of all that's holy, someone please slap me! I have become that mother I swore I'd never be - ultracompetitive and cutthroat - but I swear it's not my fault. You see, we're trying to get Hollis into preschool. Yes, I'm talking about Fall 2007 already!

Those of you who have been there in the past are now nodding in sympathy and sighing. Those of you who have toddlers right now are now sitting alert about 3 inches from your screen frantically scanning ahead to see if I've figured out some trick to getting a child into the preschool of your choice. Your heart is racing, your mind is rapidly spinning. So to end the suspense, NO I have not figured it all out. If I do, I'll let you know....

I never in a million years thought I would be fretting about this. Before we moved to Chesapeake, we lived in the City of Falls Church in Northern Virginia. The D.C. area is rife with excellent public schools, but even among Northern Virginia schools the City of Falls Church stands out. I was comforted by the fact that Hollis would go to an excellent public elementary school regardless of the pre-school he attended. I would hear about the insane interviews and people taking their 2 year olds to French lessons to get into some elite pre-school and think, "Get a grip, people!" I haven't yet tried to force Hollis to learn Arabic or anything, I mean the boy can barely speak English as it is, but I am starting to obsess about his future education. Because we left the promised educational land of Falls Church for the real world of Chesapeake, Virginia it looks like private schools are in our future. Unfortunately, our public school district is not a great one.

I briefly looked into a few pre-schools this Summer simply because Hollis has a mid-September birthday and I wanted to see the age cut-off for this area. I ruled out a few schools like this one. I have nothing against church affiliated pre-schools, in fact we're looking at several now. But I don't want to send my children to an overly religious school. I prefer to do the brainwashing myself, thanks. And after I read this school's policy on speaking in tongues (it's on page 5), I decided that I'm not as open minded as I thought I was. (Hmmm, maybe that's the Fundementalist version of being inclusive - "Hey, everyone's welcome here, even if you speak in tongues and dance with snakes! We're open minded!") At the time I didn't realize that I should have been filling out applications and interviewing teachers if I wanted Hollis to go to one of the "best" schools. Apparently, several of the schools in my area have filled up already so now I'm reduced to telephonically stalking a teacher my babysitter knows in the hopes that she can get Hollis in to her school. What is wrong with me?!?

I must admit that it is a relief to know I'm not the only one. I've been reading a book called The Madness of Modern Families by Annie Ashworth and Meg Sanders (also known collectively as Mad Muthas in the blogging world.) In their book they point out the absurdity of the competitive pre-school jockeying in the U.K. I can't pretend to understand the state school system in the U.K., but at least I have the comfort of knowing that English parents are just as crazy as I am. And then Kristen over at Motherhood Uncensored did a podcast touching on this topic. (Check it out if you have a chance. My blog friend Pundit Mom was one of the guests. They had a great discussion regarding public, private, and home schools.) So I am not alone and that makes me feel a little better. But not much.



Blogger PunditMom said...

LM, Thanks, as always, for the love!

When we moved to our current neighborhood, R. was 18-months-old and people told me that if I wanted to get her into ANY preschool when she was 2 1/2, I had to start filling out applications RIGHT NOW!

I scoffed, but they were right ... just because of the numbers of children in our area and the many "lottery" entry schools (and I wasn't looking for pre-pre-pre- Harvard, I just wanted a place where the teachers would be warm and fuzzy and the kids could play)!.

It all worked out in the end. I know it doesn't seem now like it will, but I'm sure it will. Good luck. And better get started now on that speaking in tongues, thing!

Anonymous Jenny said...

When I was 3 months pregnant with Hailey I went to a private school to try to get her in. They said I was too late. Seriously.

I finally bribed my way in but it was awful. She wasn't even going to enroll until 9 months later and they were acting like I was the biggest procrastinator ever.

Blogger ExPatSW said...

Don't worry about it, sweetie....even the English don't understand the school system here!

Blogger Gunfighter said...


Snap out if it, LM!


As long as you foster an inquisitive nature and a love of reading in your children, they'll be just fine... and the school you send them to will make little difference.


You really don't need a shi-shi pre-school. That will do more for you than it will for your kids.

I assure you, those slaps hurt me more than they hurt you (but since you asked).


Blogger Lawyer Mama said...

Thanks, GF. I really needed that!

PM - I know it will all work out, but I needed a little reminder. Thanks!

Jenny - Seriously! OMG!

Blogger mad muthas said...

this is it, exactly - the madness of modern families! you have my sympathy! the bbc2 series is going out in the new year - i wonder if you'll be able to get in out your way?

Blogger Lawyer Mama said...

MM- Probably not but my aunt (expatsw) lives on your side of the pond & I'm sure she'll tape it for me!

Blogger Alpha Dogma said...

You have my sympathy (on the hassle) and the congratulations (on the admission), LM!
I've opted out of the preschool madness. Not so much because of philosopical reasons but because there are only 2 options in town:
1. uber-Christian Church affliated pre-school that is prohibitively expensive with a fenced play area next to a seedy motel and an even seedier bar, or
2. pre-school located in a dreary windowless basement where the children spend time outside in a huge unfenced play area adjacent to the highway.
So I spend alot of time schlepping the kids to the pool, the library, the rec centre, etc. No doubt they'll need therapy later. Therapy and/or parole.

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