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Decisions, decisions

31 Jan

One of the most problematic aspects of raising a kid in Park Slope is that the pressure around ‘success’ starts early, persists in expected and unexpected ways, and continues to pick and poke at you throughout baby’s childhood. Pressure for your baby to get into the right schools, participate in the right programs, play-dates, activities, it is a relentless gorilla standing on the chests of aspiring parents.

Now, two things about this phenomenon. First, your kid gets involved with cheating, or else dabbles in performance-enhancing drug use. And as a parent, you become more annoying than dangerous – one of those ‘well, my daughter is deciding between Harvard and Trinity College (oh, the one at Cambridge, not the one in Hartford, I know, a silly mistake that Americans make). I mean, Harvard is Harvard, sure, but we just think that an international sensibility just makes more sense in this globalized world. Don’t you agree?’ The high-performing but high-pressure educational world is just out there, waiting for you! Grab an apple, enjoy the show!

Second, just because something exists doesn’t mean that you have to participate in its least appealing aspects. This is precisely the pernicious problem of living in Park Slope. The social environment invites and rewards compliance. It’s one of the more convincing, sociological truths about culture and hegemony. So if you’re not going to care, that’s fine, but it’s going to make you an asshole at dinner parties. Not that we’re going to many dinner parties.

This is all a prelude to saying that baby was accepted to the tot-preK-preschool whatever program at the temple across the street. Yay! And the only other place that we ‘applied’ that I was enthusiastic about is the Montessori school in the neighborhood. But we have to decide about the synagogue school before we are going to know about whether he’s going to get into the other school. Bird in hand, etc.

I think we’re just going to just kind of say fuck it, we’ve never heard any bad things (on the contrary, we’ve had only good experiences with the temple so far) about the temple school, so we’ll just do that. And then if we’re unhappy, we’ll ask to be considered for Montessori next year. The thing is, I’m actually on board with Montessori methods. But compared to a sure thing that’s a 2-minute walk away, it’s hard to imagine not just participating in the temple school. I mean, he’s going to be frickin’ three next year, it’s not like they’re going to be learning calculus or something.

Anyhow, prepare yourselves for my being that asshole parent. I may become it despite my own best intentions.


On joining the ranks of the crazy

17 Sep

A series of texts from me to wife:
“Maybe a dozen to 15 people in front of me”
“Feels like being outside the room for the SATs”
“Knowing McSure-of-Herself near me tells me they accepted 0 new 2s last year, due to sibs priority”
“Nervous dad on other side asking, rather desperately, where else? where else?”
“2 dozen in line now”
“This is the most depressing concert ticket line ever”
“It goes to the end of the block now, maybe 40?”

At the end, the line stretched around the corner, and I would say topped out at about 60. For a “two’s” program that has something like 15 spots. This morning was the first day to drop off applications. And there I was, sitting in it. Office opened at 8am. I was there by 7.

The funny thing about this whole schtick is that we are not crazy. I’m mildly interested in a Montessori program, or possibly a Jewish tots program. Because, I think, school with an ideology are better than schools without one. But even saying ‘schools’ is a stretch for a 2-year-old (oh, he is not yet two, btw, this is fucking for next September). Our compromise is that I go drop off our application, while wife goes to high holiday services. My relative lack of piety is costing me my morning…

Meanwhile, I think the most likely outcome is that baby does daycare next year, no tot program at all, because we do not get into one or else we decide we don’t really want to shell out the jamillion dollars for it. The second most likely outcome is that we get “wait-listed” at one of the 2-3 program for which we are applying. The least likely outcome is that we have options for which program we can enroll baby.

In all of these scenarios, baby is going to be completely fine. Well-socialized. Well-taken-care-of. Even well-educated. And yet, here I am, 7am, in the most depressing concert ticket line ever.