It’s time to choose our path for another year of preschool. Wait. Perhaps I should warn you. I’m about to discuss preschool again, hippies, race and possibly money. Sharpen your daggers! Comb your troll hair! Unfurl your internet registries of those who offend you!
Little Bee has been at a private preschool this year and it’s fine. The time commitment is a bit of a drag and I can’t say I’m in love with how they handled my concerns about volunteer parents assisting my daughter (alone) in the restroom last fall. I’d sum up the school’s reaction as a mix of defensive + meh + jibber jabber. (If you’re new to my world, read about the brouhaha and minute policy change here.) There was also a significant tuition hike. But the teachers are good people and they do an A+ job of catering to each child’s personality type.
But do you want me tell you the honest to God truth why I’m switching schools? It’s elitist. It’s white. There’s some sort of fog of judgement over everything and if you’re not a crunchy, tofu vegetarian who only believes in self-directed learning then you don’t fit in. The real ass chapper is that I happen to be a crunchy, tofu vegetarian who thinks preschool is for finger painting and eating paste. I’m not that worried about what the preschoolers are learning per se. I’ve just never felt like I fit in after the potty debacle. There. I said it. I never recovered after that. I guess everyone besides me thinks we should all be using unisex restrooms and entrusting our kids to any person who happens to have the bucks for tuition? Rich white hippies never cause problems!
Well I must be one of the wrong kind of people because I went to public school and happen to have had sexual inappropriateness affect the lives of several people I care about. That’s right, my friends are rape and molestation victims. I didn’t always live in a bubble taped world where we just trust everybody who looks like us. I have a little grit on me, as you might be aware. And this whole “you’re the weird mom for even thinking about what every other goddamn preschool has already thought about” sits wrong with me.
I plotted and schemed to get into this school. It was The School. I was thrilled when we got in by lottery and imagined myself sipping cocktails at the fundraising gala throwing tons of money to a school I believed in. I wanted to press my face into the windows during class and I imagined they’d have to shoo me away for being such a gnat. But that just went poof! the first week of school when this drama went down.
Me, as I mentioned, I went to public school in a place where everyone went to public school. You got the teachers you got and you took your standardized tests and maybe you graduated. You ate the school lunch, you rode the bus, you had friends on welfare, kids driving BMWs, there were brown faces and asian faces, there were helicopter moms and absent moms, richies, po folk, Starter jackets, art farts, football stars, potheads, future Playboy models and a future Fox News correspondent. It was a mixed bag. It was beautiful.
So when we went looking for a new school, we started there. Public. The Chicago Public School system is a maze to navigate, but if you’re in a decent neighborhood and luck out with a great teacher, you’ve got access to the wonders of the city because CPS busses will take you there. It’s the big time, so to speak. At Bee’s old school they took field trips across the street to the play ground. At CPS preschool? They take field trips to the Museum of Science and Industry and the Lincoln Park Zoo.
I already know there are drawbacks to public school. Consider the dad who recorded his son’s special education teacher calling him a bastard as she lamented her hangover and was not fired. School shootings! Mary Kay Letourneau! But at this time, I’m leaning towards making my final decision in the direction of our awesome local Chicago Public School.
In the hallway of the private school, someone asked me about my plans for next year. I told her I’m leaning toward the neighborhood school. And then it happened: My first sneer of judgement about yet another parenting decision I’ve made.
“You’re thinking of leaving the school?
Yes. Yes I am.
“I guess the tuition hike is driving people off.”
Hold up. Did someone just say that to me? In the hallway, in front of other parents? That this might be about tuition, of all things? Geez, it’s not that expensive. I want the absolute best for my child and though it may be hard to believe, the public school in my neighborhood is gorgeous, the teacher is a doll and I happen to enjoy a healthy mix of Chicago people. And school busses! And museums! So yes, we’re considering The Neighborhood School.
“Oh. Oh my. That’s, um . . . public.”
Yes. Yes it is. Che Guevara, Chicago.
PS, On the topic of school and Cuba, I saw a neat film at a film festival at the Music Box a few weeks ago called Unfinished Spaces. It’s about a decaying, half-completed school for the arts in Havana. Very interesting. Apparently Fidel Casto has a major soft spot for the arts!
Filed under: !Escandalo!