Two fifty-six year-olds in the principal’s office, wondering what on earth we had done to get into this kind of trouble. That’s what my husband and I felt like as we waited to be interviewed as part of the entrance gymnastics for pre-kinder for our four year-old grandson, who we are helping to raise, along with his two year-old brother.
For those of you in the same kind of “trouble,” getting them into a school is a lot harder than just enrolling, buying school supplies, and car-pool. There are introductory meetings, interviews, paperwork, photographs, an actual competency “meet-and-greet” with the child (is there a Kaplan prep course for four year-olds?), a meet the (grand) parents, and then a wait until the coveted envelope arrives in the mail, with further instructions.
As we sat across the headmaster of the school–in this case a Monsignor–he shared that he had never quite heard a story like ours. (And I thought priests had heard everything!) So we breathed a sigh of relief when we saw him approve the application form and welcome us to the world of parochial education. We were in! I refrained from posting it on Facebook, as so many moms of his future classmates did.
The parents’ meeting was déjà-vu alright, this time seen through reading glasses. My husband held my hand down when room mothers were discussed. I audibly moaned at the mention of school projects and the young parents at our table gave me a sideways glance. They probably couldn’t wait to get started on the first project. This was no longer the world of construction paper, glue, cut-and-paste, and a cursory supervision your child’s project. This was the world of smart boards, memory books, internet downloads, and competition—mainly among the moms! This was the world of a peanut-free school and uniforms for hot days, cold days, recess, and special holidays. In this world, the fun (for me, great memories) of buying school supplies would be done for me. This was a world of homework for children who didn’t even tie their own shoes. This was the world of pre-K4.
As I sat through the initial parent meeting and pondered the years ahead, I was reminded of a line from one of my favorite films, The Lion King. When adult Simba and Nala meet, and Timon realizes they are falling in love, he acknowledges that nothing will ever be the same, that things will head down a different path now, and that he must go along with it. That’s how I felt. “It starts,” said Timon, throwing his hands in the air.
We didn’t have the option of throwing anything up in the air—we had a lot of homework to do.