We recently crossed a huge item off of our to-do list. After much searching and serious agonizing, we have found a preschool/school/day care for Stella and BY. I think I’ve mentioned that the schools here are atrocious. They are so atrocious that it is my opinion that no amount of parental involvement – of which there is/will be plenty – can supplement the damage done and the material unlearned or not learned well. Stella’s nanny will be able to watch the kiddos until the end of July/early August, at which point Stella’s BFF will be going to preschool herself and the nanny will be free to pursue activities NOT involving small people. It occurred to me that anything we would want to do or be able to afford would be the kind of thing with a waiting list. So, in December, the search started in earnest.
The whole thing is quite mind-boggling. I started with things like the Montessori schools in our area and branched out a bit. Our major criteria were: affordability, availability (with respect to hours and access for baby/toddler care), and quality of education/philosophy. For very personal reasons involving our belief system, I actively avoided religious schools. I may discuss that one day, but that’s one of those hot-button issues I desperately try to avoid in this blog. Suffice it to say that within the obvious parameters of having my kids be able to attend a school for fiscal and practical reasons, I want a place where they will be safe, be exposed to a wide variety of appropriate material, and avoid indoctrination as much as possible. You get one shot at teaching kids, particularly when they are this impressionable, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to send them anywhere that will waste time, resources, and opportunity on things that do not fall within our own definition of what’s important. My kids will learn to read, observe, think, and make solid assumptions about the world around them that will allow them to thrive and enjoy life. I guess math is useful, too.
After several tours, loads of calls and emails, and some major discussions, we have decided on a school. It’s actually where Stella’s nanny’s kids go/will be going, so there’s a good chance the girls can stay together for a while. I had given a talk on rocks and minerals there once several years ago and thought it was a great little school. When I walked into that first grade classroom, those kids already knew about igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks. I was impressed.
So, last week, I drove down and wrote out a nauseatingly huge check. Stella will be guaranteed a place in the fall. BY is on the list for their very small baby/early toddler class. Don’t ask me about what we’ll do with him until a spot opens up1. I feel really good about this decision, financial scariness aside. Essentially with this choice, my paycheck is gone – what was left after our mortgage, anyway. We have just agreed to the equivalent of doubling our mortgage. We will be paying all other expenses off of Will’s earnings. That’s terrifying.
I guess it comes down to choices and what’s important. As depressing as the financials are, this is just not something we’re willing to F around with. I feel bad for all the kids -generations of them – in this area whose parents were not able or willing to make this kind of choice. Many of those little people are/have been lost. If we could go back would have settled in Baton Rouge, LA based on the public education system alone? Maybe not. Probably not. I think we would have moved to a different state or region altogether. Maybe one day we will do so. Too late now. We’re dug in. Either way, now I can look ahead to class projects and field trips, backpacks and school supplies. I also think at this point that we are not enough for Stella. She needs some other kids and new people to interact with. School: the next great frontier.
1 In light of all that’s been happening with Will’s staph infection (and cellulitis, it seems, based on yesterday’s doc visit), I’m maxed out. I’m not going to look for anything else to worry about today. If someone were to ask me to take care of something/someone else right now – even a pet rock – I’d probably start laughing hysterically and throwing feces. Will? He’s slowly and I mean slowly improving. New antibiotics are helping. In the meantime, he has not lost his sense of humor. That’s good!