Caroline is going to a school about 45 minutes away from our house. She’s going there because 1) our family loves it and 2) it’s on my way to work so it’s easiest to drop her off there.
Next year though I decided to find something closer to home. Last Monday I took the opportunity to visit 4 different preschools. I toured all the facilities and then ranked them in order of preference. At the end of the tour for my #1 choice, the director mentioned that registration was the following Monday. She said, “The registration starts at 8:30 am but people start lining up at 7:00 am.”
I’ve stood in line for elementary school acceptance for the boys so I knew I could do this for preschool. It seemed a little over the top to me but I wanted to get Caroline into this school. It’s the closest school to our house and my first preference.
The director also mentioned all of the 2 day classes I wanted were filled already. Church members or students who were already enrolled in the school had taken most of the available spots. She mentioned there were only 7 spots left for all the other 2 days classes. Since there were only 7 spots left I decided I better get there early.
I managed to get up on the designated Monday and be out the door by 6:50. I had packed two coats, a hat, gloves, a blanket, a chair, a book, and snacks. I was ready to wait outside in the 35 degree weather if necessary.
Driving there I thought to myself, I will probably see 2 or 3 cars in the parking lot since she said people start lining up at 7. Imagine my surprise when I pulled into the parking lot and saw about 20 cars. “Please tell me all these people are here for an early bible study. Please. Please.”
I walked right into the building, thankful my winter gear was not needed. Immediately upon walking in I noticed the plastic hanging numbers and sign in sheet. The plastic numbers were exactly like ones you might find in a deli or in a dressing room. My number was 21. Are you kidding me? It’s 7:03! How is this possible? I thought she said people start lining up at 7:00. When signing in I also had to put down the time I got there. I glanced up at the person in the coveted #1 spot – she had signed in at 4:53! The next 10 people had gotten there sometime between 5:30 and 6:00.
Where am I? What kind of school is this? I simply googled a list area preschools and got this one. Does having my toddler in this preschool mean she’s connected and will get into the sorority of her choosing? Are we signing up to be in some sort of toddler cult?
I took a seat in the “waiting room” along with 20 of my competitors other parents. I took out my book and pretended to read. What I really did was zone into conversations trying to pick up any bit of information about how old their children could possibly be?
I managed to hear one woman say, “I had hoped to get her in the 3 day a week program but it’s already full.” YES! That program isn’t even offered for my daughter’s age group. Now I’m basically number 20 in line!
I strained my eyes to see the woman’s paperwork sitting on the ground near me. YES! Her kid is younger than mine! But crap, she walked in right after me, I’m still 20.
When I initially walked into the waiting room I noticed two moms with one year olds. I instantly felt sympathy pains for them since I knew their children could go down hill at any moment. One little boy sat on his moms’ lap and didn’t make a sound the entire time. He ate cheerios and looked at a show on her IPhone. On the other hand, the other little boy had already had enough at 7:15. He didn’t care about the books his mom brought. He didn’t care about the toys she tried to distract him with. He didn’t care about the snack she tried to give him. She decided to take him on a walk which seemed to interest him for awhile. Eventually they walked back into the room with a toy truck.
All was well for about 3 minutes. But then he found the sound button. When the button was pressed this hideous screeching sound came from the truck. Each time this offensive noise occurred for roughly 28 seconds. Okay, maybe it was more like 2 seconds but it seemed much louder. The mom tried to take the toy away from her son but he would not allow it. After several more bursts of sound she looked very flustered. I said to her, “It’s okay, we’re all moms we understand.” What I was thinking was, “B****, turn off that freakin’ toy, it’s 7:30 am.” But my face never betrayed me. I completely came across as a sympathetic mom.
About 8:00 I noticed a shift taking place. Five of the original 20 parents were guys. At 8:00 there appeared to be an official changing of the guard. Wives came in with their hair done, nice clothes, and Starbucks in hand. It was obvious their husbands work was done and they were now in charge. The dads left quickly thrilled to be relieved from their duty. The other moms who hadn’t quite taken so much time on their appearance kept stealing glances at “the new ones.”
I took a quick break around this time to stretch my legs and get a change of scenery. I found two other mothers standing near the entrance so I started to chat them up. I asked how old their kids were (umm, I sincerely cared but YES! I’m number 19 now thanks to a 3 year old), and if they had other suggestions for schools.
One of the moms mentioned she had to run to her car to get her charger, did we mind? There was a sign on the door which read, “Once you have signed in for preschool registration you may not leave the building.” Did I mind? Hmm……what number are you? 27 you say? No, go right on out there. Drive to McDonald’s for all I care. But if you were #14 I would report your rear end so fast for taking a step out that door.”
At 8:29 they announced they were ready to start registering #1-9. Relief, smiles, laughter from those 9 moms.
Moments later #10-19 were called. The rest of us stared longingly at them. “Take us with you,” we all whispered under our breaths.
Then it was time for #20 – 29. So long suckers! Hah! Sucks to be you still in the waiting room.
Caroline received the second to last spot for 2 year olds. I wanted to take a victory lap around the waiting room but decided that might make things a tad awkward come fall.
I was home by 9:00 and back in sweats by 9:15.
Believe you me, I will bring up this experience several times during Caroline’s lifetime. Something along the lines of…..”I remember the time I stood in line at 2 am in the snow to get you into preschool….”