Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Getting into a good school

Its 20 minutes after 8 on a Monday night. I’m sitting in a parking lot of a church. A church that has a good preschool (not college, pre school) that we would like to get Thomas into. We toured it last week and it seemed like a good fit. Small class rooms, progressive curriculum, friendly staff, close to the house. We want what’s best for Thomas and the director’s warning that registration is a little out of hand didn’t completely deter us. “Last year we had a gentleman show up at 5pm the day before registration and he didn’t even get the class he wanted for his child.” We debated about getting up at 4am or even coming out in the middle of the night. Registration is at 7am, its supposed to get down to 40 degrees, but we want to give Thomas the best opportunity we can. We want to be good parents. Just for fun, I drove past here on the way home from work at 4:45. My stomach dropped when I saw a tent city already set up and at least 20 people milling about. All of the sudden, I’m not a good parent. So I trucked on home and Rebecca and I talked through our options and I made the decision to go out as soon as I could. So a quick dinner, bath and some reading for Thomas, I packed up a chair, blanket, ipad, a space heater and battery, thinking I’m prepared and thinking ahead. I arrived at around 7:45, pulled into a space reserved for restricted walkers (I feel bad, but I think I’ll be gone before its really needed. As I walked up, the preparedness of the other parents and vastness of the situation really hit me. Big propane heaters, tents, cots, coolers, tables, a fair dose of alcohol, music. It was quite a scene. I approached what I thought might be the end of a line of sorts and asked someone if I indeed had found the end. He stated, that there wasn’t really a line, but there was a sign up sheet at the front that they were hoping all would adhere to. So I moved up front found the list and found that I am number 43 on a list. The camp and cliques also had been established and I felt on the outside looking in on a private party. Everyone seems to know each other and my near crippling shyness immediately sets in. When I was a kid, my sister would make friends for me, but she’s not here and I’m comfortably off by myself. My being alone doesn’t bother me and it doesn’t seem to bother any of them, so we’re all good. I suppose if we’re lucky enough to get Thomas in here, these will be people that I will have to meet and talk to, but I’ll rely on Rebecca to establish those relationships. That’s why I married her.
So this is all insanely crazy and intolerably out of perspective and I hate that I’m a part of it. Its only preschool for goodness sake. I could probably drive off and come back later and no one would be the wiser, but my sense of fair play and my fear that if I leave I’ll lose my spot are keeping me here. I’m not even sitting in my car, so I can keep better tabs on what’s going on. I do see people making food runs and other nefarious activities. There’s also a guy playing dj with his Mercedes audio system. Its loud and bassey and he’s played a fair amount of music that probably doesn’t get a lot of airplay in a church parking lot.
Speaking of observations, I saw a gentleman walk up in slacks and a button down and immediately questioned his approach to this, both timing and attire wise. I saw him wander about not completely dissimilar to my approach. The good news is that he stopped by my little spot in leper-land and asked where I was on the list and thought that I had a decent shot, depending on how many parents before me have triplets. Turns out he is a member of the church and was getting a headcount for coffee and donuts in the morning (fellowship does exist). He stated that there are probably 55 to 60 spots, so no guarantee, but it was the most positive I’ve felt all evening. Its all very stressful. I don’t mind camping out at all, but I want it to work out. We’ll see. If anything else is worth talking bout, I’ll add to this. In the meantime, I’ll be watching soccer on my slingbox and trying to get my legs a little warmer than they currently are. Perhaps a few laps around the parking lot.

9:45 observations:
Observation #1: There’s not 42 other people here in my opinion. I’m suspicious that some folks have signed up and left. We’ll see how tomorrow morning plays out.
Observation #2: The main tent group, who also harbors the would-be dj, is playing poker and
enjoying adult beverages. It would probably be bad form to reenact Jesus’ turning over the gambling tables, but the thought and irony do seem appropriate here.
Observation #3: I’m going to be useless for the next couple days, I’m pretty sure of it.
Observation #4: There are at least 1 or 2 kids here. This may be because the parent doesn’t have another option, or they’re using them as a pawn to garner sympathy and favor. I guess I’ll call Rebecca to wake up Thomas and drag him out here.
Observation #5: Phone says its 49 degrees.
Its all over. I sought refuge in the station wagon around 10:30. Nodded off occasionally, but not what you would call restful slumber. The parking lot security lights were not much help. At 4am it rained for about 10 minutes. At 5:30 the alarm went off. I extricated myself from the car and started milling about with the rest of the hopefuls. People started breaking down their campsites. The resurrection of the Occupy Wall Street movement lasted just one night, but we will fight on. The coffee and donuts showed up (no cake donuts, so what's the point really) around 6 and at 6:30 an ambitious mom took the list and got everyone cued up in their proper order. I felt perversely justified because there were 17 people behind me in line. The rumor flying through the line that there two sets of triplets did not appear to be good news. There were a few people who showed up fresh faced and well rested. Perhaps they will end up being smarter than the rest of us if they still get in. At 6:50, the door opened, and just like that it was over. In less than 5 minutes, I’d gotten to the front, dropped my application in the box and in my car. SEVERELY anti-climactic. Not so much as a ticket or any memento to justify this little play. So I stopped and got donuts for Thomas and Rebecca.
The End