Last week I spent a great deal of time thinking about and researching preschool options for Evan next year, but instead of helping me make a decision I’m just MORE confused than I was.
When I looked at a 3-year-old preschool program, my biggest challenge was just tracking down basic information. Where are they? When are they? How much do they cost? You’d think that was all classified information – ESPECIALLY the “how much does it cost?” question. No one wants to tell you until you’ve already taken the tour, brought your kid in for a visit, filled out the paperwork and totally fallen in love with the place. Then SURPRISE! Three day a week preschool costs almost exactly as much a my annual college tuition did! But look, did we show you the llamas the children help care for as part of our animal husbandry program for toddlers?
NO LLAMAS, NO. We cannot eat the things my child learns to knit from your luxurious hair, so we had to choose a less-fancy but totally lovely preschool program. I made my choice and haven’t regretted it for a second since Evan started. I love them so much I started sending Caroline and plan to continue sending her until she’s old enough for one of the public school programs.
So. About those public school programs. There are two options in my town – the charter school and the regular public school. If you had asked me last year, I would have said the charter school was absolutely my first choice with our current (not free) preschool as a back up. The regular public school option was third. Of course, that opinion was based on nothing. Truly nothing. Not a single actual thing. I don’t know anyone whose kids go to the public program, I just assumed it would be not good based on the fact that my town is slightly economically depressed (am I the only one who pictures a really sad dollar sign anytime someone uses that phrase? Probably). But with that opinion behind me I filled out the charter school application a full year early and then crossed all my crossables.
It didn’t work. Evan is number 15 on the wait list. There are only 22 spots in the classroom, so the chances we’ll get moved up far enough to get in are…not good.
The truth is, I’m not sure how I feel about it. The charter school is very, very popular. There are something like 800 kids on the wait list at any given time – there was a mom on the tour last week who said her 5th grader has been on the list for four years. Getting in through the preschool program is the only way to guarantee a spot in the elementary and middle school programs. But after the tour I wasn’t 100 percent sure it was the place for my kid. There wasn’t anything WRONG with it, I just wasn’t…blown away, I guess? There definitely weren’t any llamas.
Now it looks like he’s going to go to regular preschool at the regular public school. This year they’re starting a whole new consolidated program for all the pre-k’s in our town at one elementary school and it sounds like they’re working really hard to make it amazing. Evan could take the bus – THE BUS – to and from school 5 days a week. They have a gorgeous playground. He will probably know at least one kid in his class, thanks to his extensive social circles. I think I can make the pick-ups and drop-offs work with Caroline’s preschool schedule, so she can stay where she is. But the regular public preschool feeds into the regular public schools and I’m a tiny bit terrified of our town’s middle school. It is a RIDICULOUS thing to worry about, since the chances of us still living here when my children are in middle school are about the same as our chances of winning the lottery, moving to a villa on the coast of France and paying a private tutor for the next 13 years but worrying is my second favorite hobby.
It can really all be summed up as OMG WHO THINKS I AM RESPONSIBLE ENOUGH TO MAKE THESE DECISIONS FOR ANOTHER HUMAN BEING? Just like every other parenting decision. A preschool seems like a tiny choice, but it’s a pebble tossed into a pond – the ripples could echo through the rest of their lives. It’s too much. At least now I don’t have to pick which stone to throw?