I got my first introduction to the seedy underworld of pre-school registration recently. I had no idea this was such a cut-throat endeavor. I'd heard tales, of course. Seen bits in movies. But I honestly just thought they were urban legends. People don't really clamor for spots, do they?
When I went to the open house for my chosen pre-school, I was delighted and nervous when I saw just how many other prospective attendees were there. But when talk turned to the process for actual registration my nervousness turned to shock.
Registration was to take place at 6:30pm the following Friday. Parents would be given numbers as they arrived and that is the order they would be registered in. And what time did they think we should come? Well, last year parents began showing up around 10. That's TEN Ay Em. EIGHT AND A HALF HOURS BEFORE REGISTRATION.
When they said that, I snorted and turned to walk out. I wasn't going to waste any more of my time on this BS. But halfway to the door I started thinking. First, this is a great pre-school. I have several friends whose children have gone here and raved about it. Second, it is significantly less expensive than the others I was looking at. Sophie's experience is the most important factor but all other things being equal, if we can save a thousand dollars, I'm not going to turn that down. So I halted my stomping out in protest and decided to listen to the rest of what they had to say.
It turned out to be an enjoyable morning as Sophie took part in typical activities with her future classmates. The teachers were really nice and I believed it a good fit for my daughter.
But there was that registration looming over me.
Over the week and a half leading up to the registration day, I changed my mind a hundred times. Going. Not going. Going. Not going. The idea of lining up and sitting there ALL DAY to sign my daughter up for pre-school was not an appealing one. But in the end, I decided to make the sacrifice. Because I'm officially the best mom ever. Or the craziest. So I asked Neil's parents to watch Sophie for the day and I resigned myself to the insanity.
On the appointed day, I dropped off Sophie and headed to the school. I arrived about 10:30 and I was certain that I would be one of the first people there. Wrong. I was 11th. The first arrived at 6:30. Thaaaat's right. 6:30 am. For pre-school registration.
Fortunately, neither the school nor the other parents were super strict about how we spent our time waiting and while some chose to sit in chairs lined up at the door, I opted to sit within the comfort of my car reading The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo on my Ipad, with the occasional phone call or game of Angry Birds thrown in to break it up. Around 2, the kindly Katie took pity on me and showed up with a cookies and creme milkshake from Chick Fil A. Otherwise it was a quiet and uneventful day.
At about 6:15, we all lined up at the door of the school and prepared for the magic moment. We filed in and waited for our numbers to be called. With just 14 spots in the morning class I wanted and an unknown number already taken by children whose brothers or sisters had already come through the program, I was not optimistic that Sophie would get in. Sadly, my fears were justified, but there was a spot in the afternoon class. So, despite my concerns about this interfering with her naps, I signed her up. I don't mind telling you, I'm pretty excited for September. Sophie is going to love it there.
I know it's crazy, but those hours seem like a good investment on my daughter's future. Sure, it's just pre-school, but these are formative years, right? I guess I'll just have to chalk this up as yet another on the long and ever-growing list of things I never thought I would do as a parent.