Kindergarten Applications Make Me Want To Cry
It has been one of those days - one of those days that calls for lots of chocolate and a long hot bath. Ok fine, and maybe some trashy TV to get my mind off of the stress, because I'm completely stressxausted.
I blame Kindergarten. Really. It's all Kindergarten's fault.
Back in January it occurred to me, that while our kids are enrolled in a wonderful Montessori program which continues through Kindergarten, we might not be able to secure them a spot in the school of our choice for first grade if we didn't start looking to enroll them sooner. So, I casually started looking into a few schools, then panicked when I realized that my hunch was completely accurate and that I had already missed the first round of application deadlines. Some schools were already on a wait-list. The only way to get a spot in first grade was if someone moved and you had been put on the waiting list because you were denied entrance for kindergarten. We had to get moving, and get moving now. Not exactly a great start for an over-achiever like myself, but I thought I could make up for it by researching schools endlessly and setting up appointments for school tours.
The first available tour slot? Mid-March.
So, without even setting foot on the campus of any of the schools, we are forced to narrow down our choices. The afternoon of the tour at our most promising school (and the one that I am most excited about) seems like it will run smoothly, until I end up stuck on a conference call for work and have zero time to find something decent to wear and fix my hair. I suck it up and run out the door - hey at least I won't be late - applying lipstick and mascara on the way.
Once at the school, I am looked up and down. I'm painfully aware that I look way too casual for the occasion, but I ignore it and ask my intelligent, well-prepared questions anyway. I drop the necessary hints to let the Admissions Director know that I'm the perfect fit for them. I casually mention something about my job (translation: I'm stable, I can afford your tuition!), the sock drive for the homeless that I organized at the kids current school this past December (translation: not only am I a parent who is willing to get involved, but I also have a philanthropic side!), and my own background as a high-school French teacher (translation: I understand the ins and outs of education).
All of this and we haven't even discussed the kids yet.
After the tour I'm ushered into a small room where I am essentially interviewed further. Still nothing about how the kids will fit in, but more about how we as a family fit. At the end of our time together, the Director confirms what I was suspecting all along - this casual tour was indeed an interview. The good news? I've passed, and I'm given an application packet.
That's right. I'm allowed to apply to send our children to school there now.
The application is pages and pages long. It asks questions about the kids strengths, their greatest needs, their emotional issues. And then comes the whopper on the last page - disguised as a harmless little statement - "Is there anything else you'd like the Admissions Committee to consider?"
Um. As my friend Katy so eloquently put it - Holy Kindergarten Application Batman!
This is not my first rodeo. I applied to (and graduated from) college. That question - the one that seems simple to skip over but yet has an entire page of lines accompanying it - is essentially what's known on college applications as the personal statement.
I am wholly out of control at this point. My fiance' comments that he has never seen me so wound up. I'm not sure if it is my wild hair, my wild eyes, or the fact that I'm googling "outstanding kindergarten applications" that has him the most alarmed. Either way, he's right. But I didn't fill out the entire application to be dominated by this one question at the end. So I focus, and decide on the over-achiever route. In the provided lines, I simply write "see attached". Then I type up an eloquent personal statement for our family that will hopefully reflect well on our soon-to-be-kindergartners. I print it out, and place all of the items carefully into a nice black folder, before closing it with a flourish.
Fast forward to this morning, when I am planning to bring both the application and my 5 year old daughter in to the potential new school to be assessed. I know her well, and am positive that she will make an excellent student at the school, and I don't just say this because I'm her mother. But on the way out of the house, a series of events unfold which essentially lead to a meltdown on her part. I soothe her in the car, but I can tell, she is still not herself. We walk into the office and she spies a puzzle immediately, ignoring the assessor and everyone around her while making a beeline for it. I allow her to complete it once before asking her to go in the room for her assessment. She looks up at me briefly before completely melting down in front of the entire admissions staff and refusing to move.
It wasn't pretty.
The rest of the day? Well it pretty much followed suit.
Kindergarten, 1. Erika, 0.
Now, about that long, hot bath...