The Preschool Hustle


Pardon the absence dear readers. We’ve been knee deep in preschool applications and infertility treatments.
And believe me, the former has made us question at times why we’re doing the latter.
You read right.
Friggin preschool applications.
And not just applications but tours, open houses, classroom visits, conversations with school directors that are more like interviews.
And so many terms: play based, Reggio, Montessori, Waldorf, child centered, differentiated learning…
And then there’s the money…oh good Lord, the money.
My daughter’s preschool applications cost more than my graduate school applications.
All of this for students who still need naps, are barely out of diapers, and laugh at words like poop and booty.
This past month we were baptized into the strange ways of the overachiever, highly competitive culture that is Washington DC. Apparently this phenomenon happens in urban enclaves across the country according to the documentary Nursery University.
I remember watching this film in open mouthed horror years ago and I vowed we would never be those parents.
Flash forward five years later and my husband and I found ourselves in a crowd of other hopeful parents listening to admissions directors give advice on the best ways to present ourselves when answering application questions.
One suggested we all include family photos because it helped the admissions team “envision us as part of the school community.”
Another claimed they were open to parents but refused to let us visit to see a class in action.
Yet another had a complicated acceptance rubric that made my head spin.
And we’re not even talking the fancy schmancy, $25k a year elite preschools.
We’re talking crunchier, cheaper, cooperative nursery schools with parent volunteers and hippy teachers.
We moved to the suburbs in order to avoid an even tougher system: DC’s school lottery. The thought of our daughter’s education depending in part on getting onto an island of academic stability in a sea of struggling schools didn’t sit well with us.
We’re not Waiting for Superman.
And we’re very happy with our daughter’s future elementary, middle, and high schools.
But, since our county doesn’t have free preschool for non Head Start families, we were still treated to a bit of the nursery school hustle.
And I’ll admit a surge of pride when one of those schools offered my daughter a slot for the fall.
It made all of those evenings crammed into teeny desks listening with rapt attention to teachers rhapsodize about the wonders of playing in puddles seem worth it.


About domesticpolichick

My life is a crazy jumble of sitcom-level domestic hijinks and fast-paced political reporting in the nation's capital. Breastfeeding while doing a phone interview with a senator...yep, I've done it and no, I won't reveal the name. Toddler calling a member of Congress on the cell..yeah, that really did happen. Pregnant in high heels on Capitol Hill trying to chase down a particularly grumpy senator, yeah...that was nuts. But what can I say? I'm just one domestic polichick trying to figure out the work-life balance.
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