Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Preschool Edition, Part 1

Today's photo is one from the archives.

In September Zoe will begin preschool or some other away-from-home toddler program. There are a large number of schools to choose from and last October I started looking into them, going on tours and sending in registration forms and deposits. The deposits do not guarantee Zoe a spot at the school, but simply put me in line in the order in which the registration was received. But even that does not guarantee me a spot. Many of the schools determine their enrollment by other factors, including (but not limited to) race, ethnicity, sex, miscellaneous diversity and even proximity to the school. Administrators of popular schools like to create an air of exclusiveness, which leaves one with the impression that getting into their school is highly unlikely. They always, however, suggest that you send in your registration fee as soon as possible, just to be safe.

I looked at, looked into, or applied to about a dozen schools. One of the more popular schools had a three-tier level of rejection. If you received a level one letter you actually had a chance of being accepted. Those applicants who received a level two letter where warned that in order for you child to have any chance of getting in a good number of level one children would have to be kidnapped by the Taliban (and held until the start of the age three program). At level three, the level of rejection I received, there stood a better chance of this blog winning a Pulitzer than my child getting accepted in.

These schools toy with us parents. One school that I spoke with on a number of occasions had me believing that I (Zoe) was a shoe-in. It was a small school that claimed that they took most children based on recommendations from current students parents. I know two couples who currently send their children there, and they both put a good word in for me. Not only was I unceremoniously rejected (a message was left on my answering machine), but when I showed up for the tour (just in case an opening occurred) I found that the director had forgotten that she had scheduled with me and did not show up that day. Another school, one that I would very much like to get Zoe into, informed me that I did not make the cut, only to call me later the same day to tell me that there had been a cancellation and I made the very bottom of the list. I’m not necessarily in but I am allowed to take the tour. And if, on the day of the tour, there is an opening than I need to give them a deposit then and there.

I haven’t made a final decision yet because some schools don’t notify parents until March. However, other schools have already told me there are openings and they are filling up fast. Ultimately, between the few that I have narrowed down (and that I have not been rejected from) it probably doesn’t really matter at this point, at least not this first year. I realize that some Ivy League’s will base their decisions on whether classical music was played to the child in utero, but really all I want is for Zoe to be happy; happy and able to do calculus by first grade.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Two, and Other Favorite Words

For the last two weeks or so, as we walk by the room that will soon be Zoe’s new bedroom (soon after the arrival of number two), I have asked Zoe whose room this is, and she will say, “mine.” Then I will ask her what color she wants it, and she will respond, “Blue.” She has answered ‘blue’ every time I have asked her what color she wants her new room. Every time Alison asks her she answers blue. So today I went out and bought a $50 gallon of zero VOC (volatile organic compound) paint. On the way home I told her I bought the paint for her new room. She said, “Yellow.”

Zoe knows a large number of words, but is not yet stringing them together, except for, “No, mine,” which actually means, “I would like to do it myself,” or, perhaps, more accurately, “If you touch it I will have a falling-down tantrum.” This is fine at home, where I can simply step over her and continue what I was doing, but she has dropped to the (disgusting) wet floor of the men’s ‘family’ locker room at the YMCA after swim lesson while I am standing in a small space crowded with a variety of naked men and children with only a four-inch-square towel wrapped around me. Fortunately all that’s usually needed is to say I won’t touch it and she will continue as if there had been no interruption. That is until she screams in frustration because she has managed to get both legs jammed into one leg hole of her pants.

A word Zoe knows well is two. I like to impress my friends (and strangers) by asking Zoe questions, such as how many cats do we have? Or, how old are you going to be? Or how many daughters does the new President have? She always gets the answer correct. She will even hold up fingers in such a way that one could interpret it as two. What I don’t want to do is hold up one finger (or three, four, etcetera) because she will say two. I asked her how many doggies were on her pajamas this morning (they have a doggy print, so I’d guess between fifty an seventy-five) and she answered two. On the other hand, she may know what she is talking about, because when I asked her how many grey hairs I have she answered two. Smart.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Separation Anxiety; Not

Last night Alison and I went into the city to help celebrate a friends 40th birthday. Zoe was left with Diane, a coworker (and friend) of ours. Although Zoe now has a nanny a couple of times a week, we still have not left her with someone who is feeding her dinner and doing the whole bedtime routine, so I was a little nervous. First I expected that Zoe would be in tears as we left. She was not. “Bye Mommy and Daddy,” we heard as we rushed out the door. Zoe waved to us from the window and shed not a tear the entire night. Zoe helped Diane find light switches, turned on the heater in her room at bedtime, showed her what books she liked to be read, and generally took charge of the situation. Ultimately I think she liked being the host and showing someone new around her toys. Diane probably acted excited having tea with her, whereas I have done teatime at least twice a day since the holidays. We even took her tea set on vacation with us. Enough with the tea! Anyway, with preschool starting just seven short months I’m happy that Zoe is capable of being separated from her parents, something I was beginning to have my doubts about.

We are in the midst of a handful of minor construction projects in preparation of the arrival of Zoe’s baby brother in seventy-one days. One of our projects is the preparation of Zoe’s new bedroom, the room that was previously our office. We told her that the room would soon be hers, and she seems excited about the prospect of a move down the hall. Every time we walk by the room she yells, “Mine,” and when we ask her what color she wants it she always answers blue, which surprised both me and Alison because green was always her favorite color until she learned how to say yellow. (For the record, she can identify a number of colors, but she can say red, blue, green and purple. And since I’m on the subject of identifying things, she recognizes the letters B, D, G, M, P, T and Z by specific words; baby, daddy, grandma (she says mama), mommy, grandpa (she says papa), Tallulah and Zoe. And as far as numbers, everything is two.) The move to her own room, which will probably take place at some point before we move the baby into her current room, will include the transition to a real bed. We are hoping that the novelty of having her own ‘grownup’ bed will outweigh her desire (and ability) to climb down and make the trek to our room.