We ended up moving Claire to the fancypants preschool on Monday, and it's been going okay. We are thrilled with the place but Claire is going to require a bit more...persuasion.
At first she was excited, but then she figured out that we intended to LEAVE her and, well, it's been rough what with the daily tantrums at drop-off and overly-grateful face I see when I pick her up in the afternoon. I mean really, Claire. It's not like Mommy dropped you off at a Turkish prison for the day. They have a baby grand piano here. It's the height of suburban snobbery.
We didn't come to this decision lightly, and your thoughts were so helpful, but I just kept thinking about what the objectives were and how her current school wasn't meeting any of them. The old school got a big fat F on all three.
Ideal Preschool/Daycare Objectives
1. Close to house
2. Feeds children decent food
3. Has intelligent staff
When I looked at it on paper, practically and rationally, it was no contest. I had looked for other solutions nearby and this was really the best fit. Talking to some of you really made me see that the cost isn't SO exorbitant. Childcare is just really expensive and it's absolutely the sort of thing that, to me, is worth paying more to get exactly what I want. We ponied up the cash and enrolled her.We felt good about it
And then last Thursday, I had a conversation with the director at the old school that was so validating and made me feel GREAT about moving her.
A'Dell: Hi, Friday will be Claire's last day here. Do you need me to fill out a form or anything for that?
Director: Oh. Her last day? So...you've already given us two weeks' notice? (Superior tone, pointed look.)
A: Um, no. Her last day is tomorrow. (Firm, not taking the bait.)
D: Well, in the handbook it DOES state that you need to give us two weeks notice. (Very haughty now.)
A: Or else...what? What happens if you don't get two weeks notice? (I know full well that the answer is NOTHING since there's no deposit.)
D: (Realizing she has screwed up, sounding a bit more kind.) Well, it's really just a courtesy notice.
A: Well, I'm not giving it to you. Her last day is tomorrow.
D: Oh. Okay. Did...did something happen?
A: Well, I haven't been happy with the facility for a long time and we've found another solution.
D: (Barely audible) Oh. Okay.
AND THAT WAS IT. She didn't say anything else. She refused to make eye contact with me for the entire conversation and even after I said I wasn't happy with the facility she didn't even bother to ask me WHY. It was like we were in high school and I was dumping her.
The new place is good but I'm finding that I seem to have a very adversarial attitude toward her care providers and it doesn't seem to matter WHO they are - new place or old. It's a weird blend of privacy rights and parental rights with a sprinkling of practical and rational thinking. I think I would have these issues with any place.
For example, when they tell me that binkies aren't allowed it makes me challenge that on a rational level. Like, WHY aren't they allowed? I get that some people think they're undesirable but I'm not bringing in a binky for EVERY KID. Why can't my kid have one? Don't I get to make the decision on when she's through with it? What makes you think that you get to make this decision? I really, really hate rules just for the sake of rules.
Or, the form I filled out that had some confusing instructions on it. I gently and kindly suggested they change the language in the interest of clarity. I was told that they CAN'T change the language because it's a state form. (It was not a state form.) They kept parroting back STATE! FORM! STATE! FORM! like it was so holy and untouchable.
It was a Word Document with their letterhead on it.
It might be INFORMATION the state requires you gather, but lady, it is not a state form. If it was, it would have the seal of the State of Texas on it and letterhead from the Department of Family and Protective Services. This isn't a state form and don't tell me that just to shut me up. Tell me that you'll talk to someone about it or you don't know how to edit it but you'll check it out. But don't lie. Don't blame it on the government. I'M SMART. I SEE THROUGH YOU. If you don't know the answer, just freaking say so.
Then there was also the registration form that wanted to know where both Chris and I worked. There was a blank for "employer" and I thought, "Why do they need this information? Why is this vital/crucial to the service they're providing me?" So, I left it blank. Same when they requested Claire's Social Security Number - I opted to leave that blank too. (Let's try to keep identity theft a low risk for her until she's at least say, 13.)
I think my quick-to-anger tendency on the topic has to do with the fact that I'm a pretty laid back parent. I have discovered that my "Parenting Style" (what an awful phrase) is pretty laissez-faire and that surprises me.
As confrontational as I am, I fail to see the practical reason to put both Claire and I through the misery of taking her binky away, cold turkey, the same week she starts a new school. I just....think that's stupid. (Apparently, I only enjoy confrontations with purpose.) Why make everyone miserable for the sake of a perceived societal norm that really isn't the norm? I know plenty of three-year-olds with binkys. It's...not really a big deal. This rule is kind of dumb and not based on anything practical.
I don't want to create a situation where I'm THAT parent that fights with the director all the time but it's hard to strike a balance between what I want as the parent and what they need to make sure the classroom is normal all day.
I think I'm extra sensitive on the topic because on some level I feel like sending her there is a choice, when it's really not. Like, I CHOOSE to send you to this preschool even though I don't really want to because since I'm the Mommy I should want to stay at home with you all day because...that's what all of the "best" Mommies are supposed to do? That makes everyone at preschool an enemy that I pick apart and make sure is up to my sky-high standards.
And that's so dumb because it's not even true. It's not really a choice, it's The Way Things Are. These people are helping me. Unless we suddenly came into Rockefeller-type money (HA HA HA), I can't see myself ever not working. And even if I wasn't working in a traditional sense, I would still need childcare to pursue projects on my own.
There are definitely moments that I think, "I should just let that go," but there are so many others that make me want to stop and point fingers and say, "This is kind of stupid, right?"
So that's where we are with preschool now. Still a little angsty, but heading in the right direction.
Ending on a high note, look at this fantastic backpack and lunch bag that I got from Land's End. Claire has been wearing the backpack around the house and insisted on carrying her lunch bag by herself this morning. They're a hit.