Friday, April 20, 2007

Of Birthdays and Preschools: The Spark at the End of the Tunnel

Kaylee turned one on Monday. It's been a very, very long year, replete with a late baby, a traumatic birth, a dollop of post partum depression (where I did NOT at any point in time party with Paris Hilton or shave my head or my cooter), an IT career ended, but not grieved and a transition to full time motherhood that alternated between complete and utter joy and mind shatteringly horrific.

The first year with a new baby always goes by slowly, and then time speeds up and you can't remember having a little baby. She's not walking yet, but she is a super efficient crawler and climber. We went to the park on the Cambridge Common today and she was hurtling herself in and out over a one foot wall that defines the sand box. She climbed up a stepped water table and got herself on the bottom of the slide.

"But she's a GIRL!" I wailed. "They're supposed to be mellower and less CLIMB-EY!" She had a great time in the sandbox, playing with buckets.

After nearly a year of agonizing and trying to make a rational, educated decision about where to send Eric to preschool for his 4th year, we have decided to stay put at Oxford Street. It basically came down to: Where would HE be happiest? What is the SUREST bet? I looked at a regular, private PreK program that had a kindergarten. If he went there, he would attend kindergarten when he turns 5. But when I observed the classroom and really thought about what that meant, I really wanted him to have an extra year of just fun. They were doing real "lessons" in the classroom. And 3/4 of the way through the school year, they were only working on the number "9." For a kid that can do basic arithmetic in his head and on his fingers, I thought he'd get frustrated with the curriculum pretty quickly. Plus they never went anywhere with the kids.

At this particular preK program, they are in walking distance of several really cool parks, and since they have their own playground they don't ever go. They go on field trips once a month or so, but they don't go have mini 'adventures' a few times per week. At Oxford Street, in the preschool room they do. As long as the weather is halfway decent, they go on long walks to neighborhood parks, story times, fire stations and museums. I am not concerned about him learning how to raise his hand during a lesson or learn his letters and numbers. He knows them. He doesn't have the small motor skills to write them, but he is reading simple words and I don't want to burn him out. I want him to have as much fun as possible before MCAS-preparation-indoctrination (also known as "public school") begins.

I think it had a lot to do with being able to see the light at the end of the tunnel as far as paid school for Eric. Even though his birthday makes him ineligible for public kindergarten when he is 5, Somerville has an AWESOME and completely FREE PreK program that I'm very excited about him attending in 2008.

Now that the decision has been made, I'm really excited about it. I have learned through this process that school choices are very stressful to me. I went with the option that I knew Eric would be happy with. *I* won't be happy with it for myself. I don't like all the work that goes with this particular parent cooperative, combined with the very, very high prices of care. But it's not about what I want at this point. It's about what's best for Eric. And what's best for Eric is that he has a really, really good time at school. And that's what will continue to happen.

Kaylee will be attending a very respected family day care a couple half days a week starting in the fall. This will hopefully give me time to write my super cool novel about Identity Theft.

So, we'll have a super expensive year next year. BUT it's the last year they'll both be in "private" school.

Things are looking good and I am no longer a crazy person stressing over a decision that should not be that stressful. Having kids unveils a whole heap of crazy that I never knew I had. I suppose that's not so unusual... Is it?


Blogger Downpuppy said...

There's a pre-pre-k at the Capuano a lot of people get into, but Oxford street sounds more fun, even though they've sealed up the top of the climbing structure at the Sacramento playground.

5:03 PM  
Blogger Margaret said...

Actually, they re-opened it. They replaced the sturdy platform with more meshy stuff. I have no idea WHAT they were thinking. It seems even more dangerous now...

7:01 PM  

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