You would think that with three kids I would have experienced it long before today, but no. Today was my first time. My first time stressing over getting my kid into the right school. Preschool to be exact.
Wait. Let me back up.
You see, I wasn’t stressed about getting him into the right preschool because I want him to go to the right elementary school, which will lead to the most competitive high school, which will put him on the path to the right college. No. Nothing like that.
For me, it was all about proximity and cost and convenience. Oh, and if it is a good school that builds a solid academic foundation, all the better, but honestly, not my priority. Oooh, can I say? Does that revoke my membership in the Good Mommy Club? As if.
I have never waited in line before to enroll my kids in school. I picked Nature Boy’s Montessori school out of the phone book. It was close. They had openings. I took one. Klepto was next, so she just went where her big brother went. Not rocket science. And now it is Bucket Head’s turn, but in this economy, I am looking for something a lot less expensive than private Montessori school, and also, I’m just not ready to put little Bucket Head, my baby, my last baby, in a 5 morning a week program. I can’t do it. Not yet.
So I want a two or three morning a week preschool that is extremely close to home. Oh, and it would be nice if that school doesn’t have a track record for children choking to death on hotdogs or being sexually abused by the staff.
Now, how to pick a preschool… hmmm. There are a handful of preschools near my house. I’ve heard good things about all of them. I need a sign.
Wish granted! Last week as I was driving to the liquor store, of all places, I passed a local church with a sign that said their preschool registration was February ___ at 8 AM. I remembered hearing some of the über moms at my subdivision pool talking about how they had to literally sleep out over night to get a spot for their kid at this particular preschool… its reputation is that good. I never considered this school before because frankly, I have no desire to work that hard. But, feeling kinda lucky that I had randomly driven past the registration sign, I decided to call the school and find out what the registration process was like. If you know me, you know that I don’t usually call ahead and find stuff like this out. I usually just wing it. So the fact that I made this call was huge… another sign. The stars were aligning. Fate was driving the bus and I was strapped in and enjoying the ride.
The school politely informed me that there were only two spots available for the 2 year old Mon./Wed./Fri. class, but that there were about 30 spots for the Tues./Thurs. one. They then told me that they no longer allow overnight camping out for getting a spot in the program. Instead, they have a lottery. All I had to do was be there at 8 AM, not one minute later, and they would let whoever was in line at that time pull a number from a basket. The numbers would determine the order for when we could approach the registration table and apply for a spot in their program. Wow – how civilized!
But, uh-oh. First of all, I’m never on time. Secondly, I never win lotteries or prizes of any kind. I learned to accept this fact long ago and comfort myself in the idea that perhaps God already feels that I am plenty blessed in my life and that it wouldn’t be fair to others to also win random drawings and lotteries. Whatever. It’s less painful than believing I’m just an unlucky bastard.
So the cards were already stacked against me, in my opinion. However, still feeling the power of “the sign,” and the need to think positively, I decided to go. What did I have to lose?
Naturally I was running late. Being anywhere at 8 AM is a big stretch for me. But I hustled the best I could, cut some corners in the personal hygiene department, got Bucket Head dressed, grabbed a sippy cup of milk and a cereal bar for him to eat while we were in line, and set off to be a part of the preschool lottery.
Now, have I mentioned that I live in the ‘burbs of Atlanta and that most of the stay-at-home-moms here are crazier than shit house rats? These bitches play to win at everything they do, and preschool registration is no exception.
My first hurdle would be to make it there on time, and miracle of all miracles, we did. I found a rock star parking spot with no problems, found the correct entrance to this enormous church/preschool right away, and walked in the door holding Bucket Head in one arm, my giant purse slung over my other shoulder, and in my two hands: the sippy cup of milk, a 12″ stuffed Big Bird toy, and my keys. We walked into the multipurpose room where the registration lottery would take place and immediately every eye in the place turned and focused right on us as if so judge and say, “We’ve been here for hours! Who do you think you are walking in just under the wire?” It was 7:59 AM. There were about 40 parents in line. You could tell immediately where the front of the line was because there were about 8 chairs lined up and the women sitting in them were the most smug and obnoxious passel of professional pissy-faces I had ever seen. At that moment I was SO glad I had called ahead and learned that it didn’t matter how early I got there as long as I wasn’t there later than 8 AM! Ha! So there, early birds! Take that worm and suck it!
A couple of minutes later, the administrators were ready to begin the lottery. The head of the school got out her microphone, I kid you not, and said: “If you are here with another adult… a spouse or a friend, you may only draw one number for your team.”
Oh. My. God. People cheat at this! I never even thought of that! These people are sick, sick fucks. What a shitty thing to do… bring a partner, pull two numbers, and then use the lower number to go up and register so you improve your chances of getting a spot in the program. Holy shit. This is the major leagues. I hope President Obama doesn’t ask any of them to be in his cabinet. Hear me now kiddies…. cheaters never win.
The Head Cheese started down the line with the basket. A majority of the people ahead of me were actively peering into the basket and looking at the folded slips of paper as they drew their numbers. MORE CHEATING! Jesus! When it got to me, I just closed my eyes and reached in and grabbed the first thing that grazed my fingers. I was going to let fate be in charge. It was fate that drove me past that registration sign on my way to buy booze, it is fate that is going to determine if I get my child into this program. There is no cheating fate.
8:05 AM. A harried mother comes running into the room. “I’m sorry Ma’am. We’ve already conducted the lottery. You are too late. You are welcome to stay and be the last one to register, if there are any spaces left (which there definitely won’t be), but you can’t draw a number.” GULP! Oh, praise Jesus that that wasn’t me. Yowza.
With that little spectacle out of the way, it was time to see what number I drew. Deep breath. I slowly unfolded my slip of paper, feeling like Charlie carefully peeling the wrapper off his Wonka Bar. Would I find the last Golden Ticket?! I took another deep breath and looked at my number.
Holy Shit! That is my lucky number! And, it is low enough that I might actually get a spot in the highly coveted MWF 2 year old class!!! Oh, wouldn’t that be wonderful if Bucket Head could go to preschool three mornings a week instead of just two? It would be perfect! Three mornings a week for him to learn and grow and play with kids, and three mornings a week of freedom for me! Oh, it’s too good! Wait, don’t get ahead of yourself girl. Just be grateful you’ll probably get into the school at all.
“One and Two – please come to the registration table.” The process was quick. The first two women enrolled their kids within minutes and then they called my number. I gathered up my child, his sippy cup, the remains of his cereal bar, his Big Bird, my purse, and my Golden Ticket, and approached the table.
“How old is your child?” the registrar asked.
“He’ll be two next month.” I replied.
“There is one spot left in the MWF class. Would you like it?”
I got it. I got the spot. The one of two spots that people have slept out on the sidewalk in previous years to get. And I got it.
“YES!” I blurted, feeling like she had just asked me if I would like to continue breathing… as in, der.
That was it. Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy. I filled out the enrollment form, wrote my registration check, and left… walking on air and totally in shock that I, the most unlucky, most unprepared, least punctual person I know would walk in and out of that room in fifteen minutes holding a Golden Ticket for next Fall. All is right with the world today.
Hopefully it is a good school. Oh who cares?! I’m in! It’s close. It’s way cheaper than Montessori school. And I have one more item on my To-Do List done. And all because I drove to the liquor store and saw a sign. Shoot… like I need any more motivation to shop there.
Until we meet again!
© 2009 The Bearded Iris