Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Schoolhouse Jerk

Yesterday, after much contemplation, procrastination, and sudden realization that if I didn't hurry up, I'd be condemning him to a lifetime of playing catch-up and quite possibly never moving out of my house, I signed Rollie up for preschool.

I'm not really freaking out about it.  Yet.  He's ready.  I'm ready.  I think he'll really like school and possibly even excel at it.  But still...my baby boy is starting school--school--in three weeks, thus beginning 18 years of structured learning, socialization, and the inescapable nickname he is sure to earn when they start the rhyming unit, whatever grade that is.

I called the school yesterday morning.  The woman on the other end of the phone was nice enough, although I'm sure I sounded like a mother who just realized that the entity she'd been feeding and walking and bathing for the past three years was not a dog after all, but in fact a child.

Me: Hi.  Uh...I wanted to ask about your preschool program....
The Lady: Okay!  How old is your child?
Me: He's three.  And a half.
The Lady: We do have four spots left in our three-year-old class.
Me (instantly thinking 'I'll take it,' but realizing that I needed to sound a little more shrewd and judicious): So...can we like, come and take a tour of the school?
The Lady: Of course.  What day were you wanting to come by?
Me (pretending to consult my calendar to see when I could possibly fit a tour of the school into my busy schedule): Um...let's see...well, I think I could come by today....
The Lady: Sure!  I'll be here until 4-ish, so if you wanted to stop in around 3, that would be great.
Me: Alrighty.  See you at 3.

After I hung up I started to panic, feeling incredibly unprepared.  Should I come equipped with some questions?  Maybe I should ask what their state academic ranking is.  Or to see a report of their test scores for the past ten years.  Maybe I should research the current professions of people from the graduating three-year-old class.  What if there aren't any astronauts or neurosurgeons or Nobel Prize winners?  What if all this school produces is a bunch of *gasp* English Majors??

I pulled into the parking lot five minutes early, Rollie asking me the whole way if we would be able to feed goats at school.  At least someone in the car had prerequisites.  Yes, ma'am, but what is the goat-to-child ratio?  Not sure where he got the idea his his head that the school doubled as a petting-zoo, but I was already going into this realizing that school these days isn't what it used to be.  Maybe they do goat-cloaning on Tuesdays, right after their computer networking lab.  Nevermind that when I started school, the lesson that really stuck with me was not to dip the red paintbrush into the white paint or Mrs. Feldman will go medieval on your ass.

I found The Lady seated behind a tidy little desk in the school's admin office. She was younger, more chipper and definitely less sweaty than I was.  Obviously she had no children of her own yet (this was later confirmed).  She greeted us and led us to one of the three-year-old classrooms, where my children immediately proceeded to giggle and vibrate around the room like they'd just ingested a Halloween's worth of Pixie Stix.

The Lady: They're so adorable.
Me: Oh...haha...thanks.
The Lady: So since Rollie's three-and-a-half, he'd be in the Middle Three's.
Me (my radar instantly going up the second it is even suggested that my child is anywhere in the 'middle' of anything, because to me 'middle' sounds too much like 'average' and even though I myself am about as average an individual as you can get, Rollie is by far advanced in absolutely ever aspect of his little life): Oh, well, he's actually...haha...I hate to use the word 'advanced' but he's pretty, you know...advanced...for his age.... (I can't even continue, because I am suddenly very aware of what an a-hole I sound like.  Really, Bekah?  Are you really going to be one of those parents?)

The Lady was pretty gracious, probably because she heard that every freaking day from some other a-hole parent, so she just nodded and smiled.  That must be teacher code for All right, I'm just going to ignore that and pretend that you aren't the arrogant jerk you just proved yourself to be.

The Lady: Well, the Older Three's class is full, but there's always a chance that one could drop out or something that would free up a spot.
Me (Ah-ha! So there is a drop-out rate....): Okay.
The Lady: All the classes do pretty much the same thing, though...colors, shapes, numbers, Bible stories.
Me: Okay.  Would he need to bring a Bible?
The Lady: ....If he wants to he can, but the teachers will read them out loud to the kids.
Me (feeling again like an idiot.  Why the hell would Rollie bring a Bible to school?  What's he gonna do, follow along while the teacher reads from Revelations?  Take notes in the margins?) Oh, okay.

The Lady went on to tell me that Rollie's class would have a Spanish teacher once a week, a music teacher, a gym class, and some other stuff, and I was trying to listen, but I was distracted by Rollie, who was doing his Tony-Award Winning I'm Trying Very Hard Not To Poop In My Pants Right Now Dance.

I excused myself for a minute and hustled Rollie into the tiny bathroom in the back, Elsa stomping after us and shrieking.  I shut the door with us all inside, managed to knock over a mop bucket and almost shut Elsa's fingers in the door, before Rollie informed me that we needed to get out because he wanted his privacy.  I emerged from the bathroom, feeling like I should crow, See?  My son is advanced.  He's already dropping a deuce all by himself!  Middle Threes my ass!

But The Lady had left the room, likely to go take a nip from her flask, which would be the only way I could stay that chipper and pleasant after hanging out with parents like me all afternoon.

Anyway, in the end I enrolled Rollie, filled out the appropriate paperwork and beat a hasty retreat before I said something else that would further incriminate me as the World's Biggest Jackass.  He starts in three weeks.  I have three weeks to prepare him for a new world of learning, making friends and keeping the red paint where it belongs, lest The Lady keeps him in Middle Threes forever and ever, Amen.


  1. Another great blog. I've listened to my wife insist with preschool teachers that Veronica get special treatment because she is "ready to read". I identify with your feelings of jackassishness. I wonder at how they put up with us. Of course they promised to one-on-one with Veronica but it never happened. One other issue. Roni is four and she's reading three letter words with only a tiny fraction of time spent one-on-one with Bobbie. Does this mean Bobbie was right and no jackass syndrome applies? Wow, now I need a nip...

  2. dude...i was an english major (as you can tell from my excellent capitalization and punctuation abilities)...you might have been too...we totally rock...:)

  3. Yes, I was. We do totally rock. I love being the go-to person for grammatical questions. And the butt of endless jokes from Engineers, MBA's and pretty much every other degree-holding person on the planet. It never gets old.... "Yes, I realize I cannot explain Supply and Demand in minute detail or put together a washing machine from bicycle parts, but can YOU write a thousand-word essay on the symbolism of the ocean in The Awakening? Huh? Didn't think so...."