31 January 2013

Late Registration

Today is the last day of January. The beginning of the fall semester for the next school year is practically nine months away. And yet, apparently, we need to start thinking about this now. This is crazy. What is happening here?

It all happened because we heard about this school, this unique school where students were selected by lottery to attend, who just needed to reside somewhere in the school district. One of the other moms at our preschool sent out an email reminding people about the coming deadline to submit to this lottery. Deadline? In January? We were confused. But we looked into the school. We remained confused. Should we do this? Are we supposed to do this? I think we should do this. The thing is, it hadn’t even occurred to us to start thinking about next school year, when this one was barely half over. Apparently, we are terrible parents doing nothing but setting our child up for future failure.

Looking back, I think we lucked out with the preschool. We didn’t really do all that much research and so our decision was somewhat arbitrary (what do we know from preschools?), but it actually worked out with a hugely positive experience for us and for the Doozer. The universe seems to be looking out for him. Perhaps the universe is picking up our slack. I’m sure it won’t always do that.

So, anyway, we submitted to the lottery. And the Doozer got selected to attend this apparently very special school in the fall. I’m thinking this was lucky. If this hadn’t happened, I don’t know. He would not get into a good college, have a good job, have a good life. We would have really failed him. Seriously, the universe is on this kid’s side. We need to stay more on top of this stuff. Otherwise, he’s going to be stuck in our basement as a grown man and he’s going to resent us for it.

“What do you mean you weren’t concerned about where I went to kindergarten? Why did you let this happen? You’ve ruined everything. Get out of my room!”

So today it’s kindergarten. But what’s after that? How intensely must we focus on this trajectory? Do the decisions we make right now, today, really impact his college experience (or even eligibility), his future, his career, his life? How does one cope with this kind of stress?

Should we be thinking about what he wants to be when he grows up? Do we need to just go ahead and pick out that profession now and walk it back, start with the “right” kindergarten, to ensure he’s on the right path? What if he wants to be President? Have we already ruined his chances because we are not as focused on such things as we should be? Must we devote all of our time and energy to unforeseeable future events in the Doozer’s life?

Can’t we just relax with a glass wine and an episode of Parks and Rec? Please?

This whole experience is just plain weird. And represents what seems a serious generational difference, another example of how much things have changed since we were kids. For instance, we went through this previous Christmas season and constantly wondered how our parents ever managed to Christmas shop without the Internet. We would’ve committed hari-kari. 

What is happening?

I swear it didn’t use to be this way. You just went to school, right? Whichever one was closest. Our parents didn’t audit preschools and kindergartens and chart our path. There was a school, you went to it. That was it. Right?

But now. Now it’s different. Not only do we need to keep them alive (which is stressful enough on its own), we have to figure out a way to help them thrive in the world? When maybe we’re still struggling to figure out how to do that for ourselves? What about me? Am I over now? Am I supposed to take all my own hopes, ambitions, and dreams and just divert them to my kids now now, to hope that they get more out of life than I did? That hardly seems fair.

Let’s hope this is the right kindergarten. Otherwise, sorry, kid. We screwed you. You’re going to grow up to be a guy living in our (unfinished) basement, still obsessing over Star Wars. Maybe that will be normal, socially acceptable behavior 25 years from now. But I’m not optimistic about that.

So, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go shake out the couch cushions to start the kids’ college fund. Or the fund I’ll need to finish the basement when they eventually move back in and start blaming me each morning at breakfast for everything that’s gone wrong in their lives.

Good times.

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