Now that the holidays are over and 2009 has officially begun, our family has begun the march toward preschool for Henry this fall. As of now, we’re scheduled to visit 3 open houses this month alone.
It’s hard not to panic, getting this glimpse into what parenthood means now. Thus far it’s been mostly diaper changes and instilling values like “don’t touch this” and “keep this out of your mouth.” I didn’t expect it to be about letting your child go this early in Henry’s life. I can feel the looming fore shadow of visiting colleges, identifying priorities: curriculum, location, tuition (not necessarily in that order). It’s the same with preschool, strangely enough.
And the pressure to get into the “right” school is already heating up, too. The schools we’re looking at are all parochial—2 Methodist, 1 Lutheran. It’s our hope that we can find a school that is a good supplement to the sometimes lackluster spiritual and academic formation Henry’s getting at home. But all three schools are competitive. The spots are limited, and placement is difficult. One school uses lotto to select new students, so the whole process is out of our hands. That’s actually a relief when we consider the others.
The other two have “first come, first placed” policies. In reading about one of these schools online I saw a story of a dad who had to get in line at 2:00 AM on a Saturday to get his toddler into the next year’s class. Yipes! We used to wait in line for concert tickets, or as a friend recently pointed out, Star Wars Episode 1 tickets (let’s hope there’s no preschool equivalent for Jar Jar Binks). Now we’re supposed to camp out to get our toddler into a decent (and modestly priced) preschool program?
There are many moments in life with kids that you look back and wonder how you turned into such a “mom” and this is one of them: going to open houses and making plans to hit the pavement early one Saturday morn so Henry can learn the hand gestures and choreography to “Zacchaeus Was a Wee Little Man.”