School search in Chicago

It's 9:50AM on Saturday and I'm standing in line outside in 40 degree weather waiting  to tour a magnet school in Chicago. I'm not alone; there are about 50 parents in line. We are all wondering if this is a joke or part of a herd mentality. "If I stand outside 15 minutes before they open the door, my child's chances of getting into the school will increase."

Well, that thought is quickly erased when we finally go into the building and the Principal let's us know that for kindergarten there are usually two thousand applications, but only 34 spots to fill. I should have just gotten up and left right there. I'm also looking for a preschool for Amelia and this particular school doesn't offer that program. But I stayed, don't know why, probably the herd mentality.
I'm in the thick of the school search for my three year old daughter which in the city of Chicago can be a competitive, confusing and overwhelming process. Following advice from others that have been through this situation, I have decided not to obsess with it.  Easier said than done.
We are being as realistic as possible in our search, touring the schools closest to us and with a philosophy that fits ours. So far we have toured a private school, the magnet school mentioned before and, on Tuesday, I'll be visiting our neighborhood school. Well, I should say a school in our neighborhood because we miss the district by a street. 
What has struck me the most about the entire experience, besides all the math required to figure out if your child will get in, is the intensity of the parents during these tours. 
"Who will zip my child's coat when they go outside to play?"
"Will my child be escorted from one class room to another?"
"What is a typical day in pre k?"
"Where do the kids sleep when they nap?"
As I write them here, I feel like those are valid questions I should be asking, but for some reason they don't even occur to me or my husband. After one of the tours I told Steve "don't you think those parents seem more mature, more adult than you and me?" He agreed. Great, just what we needed, another chapter of parenthood that makes us feel inadequate. Ay mama!

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