This is a repost from my June 18, 2015 Huffington Post Parent piece titled: Schooooool’s Out for Summer! (Kindergarten Here We Come!).
Where Does the Time Go?
My daughter – my first born, the child who made me a Mommy – is graduating Pre-K on Friday. I can’t believe the journey – that started with counting the seconds down until the day after Labor Day so I could press redial for two and a half hours just to get a school’s application – is over.
My daughter’s first day of school ever, Manhattan.
Manhattan Pre-School Admissions Process
Preschool – in Manhattan – is a daunting topic. Everything you heard is true. It is cutthroat. You could have the most fantastic kid on Earth who speaks seventeen languages fluently but if their birthday is after February 1st, they are a girl, or siblings took all open spots before they were offered to the world – you’re screwed.
Schools know who they “can” accept before you (not the inner circle) even have a fighting chance. But of course any of these wild cards won’t be shared with you until you win the radio contest and get through to the “DJ”. Forget the begging. No application for you.
Yep, I said application. Along with an application fee, interview, and child observation.
I’m laughing that I drank this Kool-Aid.
I Drank The Kool-Aid
We were lucky enough to make the cut and be accepted into one of the best nursery schools in Manhattan (according to the The Manhattan Directory of Private Nursery Schools, 7th Edition, the book everyone says you must get) for a “threes program”. Of course, this was followed by our (somewhat surprising) move to suburbia five months later. So, you know all of that was worth it…
On To The Suburbs And A Total 180 Change
Our suburban school – where I am a proud alum – had a much more reasonable application process. If they had a spot, and your kid had a pulse, acceptance was guaranteed.
So as I sit in my house, after parking my SUV in my driveway, on my daughter’s penultimate day of preschool, I reflect. Crying and singing “Forever Young”. [Please note: both Rod Stewart’s version – which may also make you think of Chances Are – and your prom song fit in perfectly here.]
Did Any Of It Matter?
Did it matter what “philosophy” the school followed?
Do You think the kids played enough?
Can you say the kids learned enough?
Is It possible for your child to recite sonnets in a foreign language?
Were your child’s teachers soft enough or hard enough?
Was the exmissions process up to your standards getting your child one step closer to Harvard?
Has your child’s multicultural experiences aligned with today’s diverse society?
Who the heck knows?
Nope. It Does Not Matter
What I do know is today, the four graduating classes of four and five year old kids did one hell of a chicken dance at the graduation party. They also played a game of red light green light which was second to none.
They are kids!
No matter where one lives, they are little kids.
They like sticks and balls and music when it stops so they have to freeze.
We get so caught up in what we think they need we forget they are happy running in a circle and falling down.
The Kid Is The Important Thing
My daughter is a good kid. She would have been fine no matter what school she attended and what zip code it was in (sadly not 90210). Her thirst for knowledge impresses me every day. What I love about her is she is kind, sensitive, loving, friendly, inclusive, and imaginative. She thinks of her friends if she sees a color they like and could play “family” with them for hours. Her interests include gardening, yoga and swimming. She likes holding her brother’s hand so he feels safe. She likes picking out her Grandma’s favorite flowers meticulously when we are in a rush (*exhale*).
We named a star for her as a graduation present. She is going to think this is the coolest thing in the world because on Friday nights, she likes to lie on a blanket in our backyard and look at the stars. Thank you $5 Groupon.
Houston, we have a problem.
She Is Just Simply, A Kid.
I do not know which school fostered which parts of her. I do know each school had some pretty fantastic attributes – having nothing to do with price, location, or status.
Kindergarten Here We Come
As kindergarten looms, I think of how I’ve grown as a parent too. Now a parent of two. My life has changed so much in the last three years. It makes me sad to think it is the end of knowing her classmates and their parents well. The end of getting an extra hug at the classroom door because she “loves me so much”. The end of my waiting a few seconds too long to watch her go from my sweet girl to one of the kids in the class running around, engrossed in the day’s activity or entering a pretend universe crafted with amazing detail.
Graduation will come and go. Camp will start and kindergarten will be curling its finger. I have no doubt she will do well. I have no doubt she will bounce onto the bus (!) like a little big shot on that first day. For that matter – I have no doubt I will be a sniveling mess once the bus pulls away…
Of course it is emotional. It is emotional for all of us. I realized this morning that today is the day six years ago we found out we were pregnant with this now – almost pre-kindergarten graduate. Six years.
The graduate & her proud Mama, Long Island.
Slow down time. Slow down.
In other news, oh my gosh! What are we going to do with all the money we’re saving on preschool!? Parrrrtay!