It’s happening. My kid is applying to High Schools.
Holy smokes. Bring on the emotions, the worry, the anxiety.
So, I don’t know about where you are - but in the mecca that is Los Angeles just the process of getting my kid into preschool was a lesson in hoop-jumping, skilled name dropping and basically just a free-for-all for the who-do-you-know set. One thousand years ago, I remember bringing him to check out a much lauded preschool nearby. The receptionist asked us to wait in the lobby while someone gathered all the pertinent information for our guided tour. Receptionist? Guided tour? This sh*t’s fo’ realz! I thought to myself. As we waited in that taupe room, I got misty-eyed watching my baby, my precious son (who was chair-climbing, falling and shouting Dammit!) unable to believe he would be going off to preschool in a second. And then a phone call came in. The receptionist spoke very clearly in her slightly superior tone to the extraordinarily efficient parent on the other end of the line and said, “You are looking to apply? Uh huh. How old is your child? Two months. Okay. And that’s for September 2009. Okay, well, we have a waiting list but we will add your name. Uh huh. Thanks very much. Good bye.”
Pump the brakes.
Wha’? I mean, huh, wha’? Waiting list? Wha’? Why? Why a waiting list? Two months old?
So, after that exchange and knowing that I was just popping in to take a gander en route to the grocery store I knew we wouldn’t have a shot at getting in. And that was it. I’d done it. I’d ruined my child’s life. He would end up destitute and homeless and all because we were on the playground for two years instead of applying to prestigious preschools. The fear ate away at me in that beige waiting area until I saw one kid knock another kid on his keister and instead of the old standard, “Hey! Don’t push!” the teacher talked to him about his feelings. At that point I came to my senses and I began to realize how grateful I was for that phone call. I mean - come on. So not my - our - type of school. I mean - who the hell wants to start off their life, their scholastic career, on a waiting list anyway?
And of course we ended up finding the right fit for our dynamic, well-rounded son, and he’s still there today. (Not in preschool!) When he graduates in June, counting two years of preschool and kindergarten, he’ll have been there for eleven years! Yay! …Sniff…! Yay… You get the idea.
But a change is coming. That little rambunctious boy that climbed all over chairs is now thirteen, 5’ 10” and counting and is looking and acting like the jaw dropping, amazing young man I’ve always known he would be. And now he’s moving on to high school. We just came from a tour this morning for an all-boys school in our area. Lovely school, not for our son, but amazing, still.
And as we walked and asked questions and listened I could feel it again… that bubbling, gurgling sensation building inside of me... Don’t screw this up! What about bullies? Girls? Boys? 3-D Printers? Drugs? STEM? Latin? Mediocrity? It’s so expensive! How will we afford it? Figure it out - his future homelessness is contingent upon this decision! Get it right!
Breathe. Okay, okay. We got this. Just breathe. Okay, okay, I’m frickin’ breathing….
Beware the signposts, I remind myself!
The right school for our son, for our family, exists. We are so lucky and so grateful to have options out here and not all of them employ snooty receptionists. Stay focused, Mar, I tell myself. We are in the information gathering phase and there are lots of people to help us. Oh, but it’s expensive… There aren’t a lot of public school options. That’s a bit troubling as we also have two young daughters and an employment deficiency (another story)… But, I’m a staunch believer in the “leap and the net will appear” kind of thinking… Aren’t we all just a little bit that way? At the very basis of parenting aren’t we all a little bit on the we’re-hoping-for-the-best each and every day. I mean every parent’s most intense desire is to give their kid the best shot at having a good run on this crazy old rock called Earth. But the fact is there’s risk involved. I mean every time they walk out the door I run to mine and say “I love you,” … just in case… Right? Does everyone do that?
Anyway I’m getting away from the matter at hand. High School… we’re on the cusp of a new phase in the parenting game. I’m going to run around and look at all these schools and we’ll find the ones we’re definitely applying to and I will pray all the while for wisdom and guidance and when the very informed final decision is made I will give thanks and know that no matter what happens my son will be exactly where he is supposed to be.