We were out to lunch on Saturday with my in-laws and Will's old boss and his wife (at Volt! Yum! But their lunch-sized wine pairing is much much smaller than its dinner counterpart. Boo.) and my mother-in-law mentioned preschools. She has this way of mentioning things that I should be used to by now but I'm not. She'll say "I was talking to my friend at church last Sunday, and she asked me "So when are Will and Sara going to pick a college/So when are Will and Sara going to have a baby/So when are Will and Sara going to have another baby/So are Will and Sara all moved into their new house yet/What preschool is Emily going to because you know there are 2 year waiting lists for some of them" and I said "Oh they have plenty of time/Oh they have plenty of time/Oh they have plenty of time/Oh they have plenty of time/Oh they have plenty of time"."
I'll start a new paragraph here because I'm sure your head is spinning from all the ""quotations within quotations"".".
Then she waits for me to respond. And there are only two ways to respond. #1 is to tell her what our plans actually are, which is what she's really asking in a roundabout way by telling these little "stories", and #2 is to just smile and nod. And I usually do #2.
So this method takes the focus off the actual question, and puts the focus on figuring out what she really means and finding a nebulous answer, if needed. In my mind I'm trying to figure out if this "concerned friend" was a complete fabrication invented to bring up the subject, or if the conversation actually did happen, with very fortuitous timing.
So that is why I had this conversation last weekend, but it was only today that I actually thought about it and realized "2 year waiting lists?!?!?! I have to start calling preschools, like, today".
But I have some issues, and they are:
-Emily is still my teeny tiny baby and will always be this way and surely won't be leaving me to go to school for another 10 years at least so it's silly to even think about preschool in the first place.
-I have to pick my child's preschool? Where in the manual do they tell you how to do that?
-How do I even find out what preschools I have to choose from?
I started, as usual, with my beloved internet. A quick google search brings up some yahoo listings, but how do I know whether that's an exhaustive list or not? Maybe it's just the preschools who paid to be listed on yahoo. Do I (gasp!) have to look in the yellow pages? I always tease my mom for turning first to the yellow pages, but do I even remember how to use them myself? Am I going to have to actually call people? On the phone? And some of these preschools actually look like they are daycare, so what's the difference between a preschool program and daycare?
I tried to sign up for a community of local moms online so that I can figure out my area's "preschool hierarchy of desirability", but they take up to 48 hours to process your joining request. Don't they know I need advice NOW? The waiting lists could be approaching 3 years by the time I'm approved!
In the meantime, I'm trying to think of the preschools I already know about. There's the Lucy School, which is a picturesque little barn-turned-school where I took Emily for Sing and Sign class last fall. It's all very outdoorsy and granola with a focus on music and art, and the kids have an organic garden. But lord is it pricey. Also, they do preschool through 2nd grade there, and it's not very close to our school district. So if I send Emily to preschool there, will I be the meanest mommy ever if I pull her away from her friends to put her into public school or a different private school for Kindergarten? If I send her there all the way through 2nd grade, then she and her friends will have to split up anyway at that point, but she'll be joining a class at a different school in 3rd grade...a class that has probably been at the same school together since Kindergarten, so will she be the new kid coming to the party 3 years too late, doomed to be an outsider for all eternity? And music and art are good and all, but hopefully there's science and math aplenty too? Lucy School just makes my head spin.
Then there's the preschool Will and I went to, which is at my mother-in-law's church. I liked it there well enough, and I don't really recall getting any religious lessons with my preschool, but doesn't it seem weird to go to preschool at a church, especially if it's not YOUR church? A lot of the preschools I saw online have "philosophies" and "teaching methods"...a preschool at a church might have a loose cirriculum, but is it really school or just like glorified daycare? All I can really remember of my own preschool days was playing with dinosaur toys and finger painting with paint that the teachers were foolish enough to mention was edible. Yum.
Then there's the school downtown that my mom enrolled Krista (my middle sister) in at the last minute when she was 3 because she was going to wait to put her into preschool until she was 4 (another dilema! Enroll at 3 or wait until 4?) but Mom decided she'd like to have some time at home alone with my youngest sister (since Krista did and still kinda does demand attention, usually loudly). So she enrolled Krista in the last place that had spaces left. Damn, that's harsh. Compared to places with 2 year waiting lists, I'm thinking no.
And which are the places with 2 year waiting lists? Do they even exist? If I call KinderKare and ask for a tour because I'm scouting preschools for my 21 month old daughter, are they going to laugh at me and tell me to come back in 2 years when she's actually old enough to go to school?
And the big question in the back of my mind the whole time...does which preschool Emily goes to really matter that much? I barely remember my own preschool experience, but even if you don't remember it, isn't the point of it to lay the groundwork for the rest of your school career? That sounds pretty important. But is it?
I don't think I'm ready for this yet. Maybe I'll bury my head in the sand and just keep nodding at my mother-in-law for another year.