Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Pack of Wolves

I took a break from blogging last week to deal with an emergency situation; Coco's preschool made the out-of-the-blue decision to shutter its doors next year.  This may not seem like an "emergency" in your typical "someone's bleeding over here" sense but when you consider next year is her CRUCIAL PRE-K YEAR and most Pre-K programs are already full for Fall, we were Code Red.

The late decision left our preschool's families scrambling to find a spot for their kid's CRUCIAL PRE-K YEAR.  If parents don't handle the CRUCIAL PRE-K YEAR properly, it can be disastrous to their child's future.  There is an adult on a therapist's couch right now processing an overwhelming list of troubles.  The therapist is going to ask any minute, "Where did you go for Pre-K?" and if the patient responds, "I didn't really do a Pre-K program, just a play-based preschool for a couple years," the therapist will throw down his/her pen and say, "Well then there's not much I can do for you."

Crucial stuff, these schooling decisions made for four-year-olds.  I'm pretty sure at the age of four I was eating paste on my parents' asbestos-laden linoleum floor but no matter, times have changed, Pre-K now determines everything. 

We all got on phones immediately to beg for spaces in programs across the city.  Most schools no longer had spots but those that did were quite specific as to what they were looking for because the gender/age ratio in a Pre-K classroom is apparently of utmost importance.  "We're looking for an older girl," or "we have a spot for a younger boy" or "we're looking for a hermaphrodite, with a summer birthday, about three feet tall, who can yodel."

All our preschool's parents descended upon the same schools for visits and suddenly friends were rivals jockeying for position, eyeing each other suspiciously, and overhearing other parents brag to admissions their child was born in Paris (I admit nothing).

Even if you don't buy into the idea our kids' lives are made or broken at the age of four, it's difficult not to get swept up in the mania of emergency Pre-K admissions.  It feels like running with a pack of wolves.  It's pressure-filled and exciting and kind of scary and you're looking over your shoulder thinking, "Oh my gosh, look at me, I'm in the middle of this pack of wolves!"

If you fall behind, you'll get trampled but even worse, your child will end up doing their CRUCIAL PRE-K YEAR at a now-defunct gas station led by a suspected felon named Bruise. 

I had my sights set on one school in particular for Coco.  On the day of our visit, the kids were busy painting scenery for the annual play to be performed later that evening. One tiny girl came up to me and told me she was a cat in the play and would I like to hear her lines?  I said "yes" and was utterly delighted when she followed me around meowing for the next five minutes.

Coco went for a trial run the next day to determine if she was a good fit for the school.  It was the audition of her four-year-old life.  As I sent her into the classroom, I smoothed her hair.  What?  Since when was Coco's hair ever smoothed and, if it wasn't, when have I ever cared?  Running with the wolves did funny things to me. I gently shoved her into the room and sent up a silent prayer she didn't choose that day to start smearing feces on walls. 

She didn't.  She was cheerful easygoing Coco and was offered the "older girl" spot the next day.  We're now secure in our knowledge we've made her life awesome forever, and our work here is done.

Coco is firmly in a horse phase so Alex took her to see Cavalia, the fancy Cirque du Soleil-meets-horse mashup of a show, over the weekend.  I helped him by writing turn-by-turn directions to the Cavalia tent in Redmond and attaching them to the dashboard of the car.  He proved himself Alex by ignoring those directions completely and getting lost somewhere in Bellevue. 

This is not your typical guy-won't-ask-for-directions tale.  It's more serious than that.  Alex doesn't consider directions because he firmly believes if he just gets into the car, the car will take him where he wants to go.  Directions are not a sign of weakness to him, they just don't matter.

Things tend to work out for Al and his aimless meandering "following his gut" driving because he has a detail-loving directions person (me) at home to talk him through.  If he didn't have me, I'm not sure what would become of Alex every time he got into the car.  He'd end up in Idaho when he was aiming for Costco, whistling and unconcerned it was taking longer than expected.

The Loosh recently told me he doesn't think he's good at singing but he's REALLY good at humming, so maybe I could find a humming competition in which to register him?  He's serious about it, lays in his bed at night and practices the same bars over and over again to get the hum pitch just right.  That kid is coming dangerously close to pulverizing my heart.

Meow meow meow meow,


  1. Hey MJ!...well up here in the frozen north we have something called junior kindergarten...so none of this running around to a separate school..how on earth do working moms ever have time for that?

    pretty sure when I was 4 (looong before preK) I was riding my bike in the middle of the street without a helmet and staying out till dark....with a pixie cut.

  2. Hi Debbie! The short answer is working moms don't have time for that crap! But they make it work, likely by using magic.

    Lord, bikes without helmets. Me too. Let the wind blow through my hair, I rode like the wind!

  3. FAB as usual... Do love your wonderful rambles.....

    1. Thanks, well traveled, and that's truly what they are. Just rambling away all the time over here.

  4. Maybe the Loosh could sing a little Puccini?;)


  5. Yes. It's a legitimate classical song by Puccini:) The Cats' Duet:) How fabulous is that?:) I'm sure the Loosh would love it!:) (And drive you nuts with it:)) There's a rendition of it by the great opera singer Montserrat Caballe and another woman somewhere on YouTube:) It's just cuter when sung by boys though:)

  6. WHEW. Disaster averted!!!

    You know, the one disadvantage to having a smart phone is that I can read your entire posts on the teeny tiny screen while in my email inbox, and then I space out returning to comment (not on the phone because I don't have that set up yet -- to comment on Blogger). But then there are those golden moments when I catch your email notifications when I am actually on my laptop and I have a moment to come directly here to say I LOVE YOU GUYS and I have been chortling at each and every post over the past few months! Thank you for continuing to blog -- your posts still bring me much laughter and joy. :-)

    I think the Loosh humming is brilliant, and there has GOT to be some kind of something somewhere where he can excel with his humming abilities.

    Hello to Deb in Toronto up there, too, and Duchesse, and all the other readers who have probably forgotten I used to comment here. Ha.

    Hugs to everyone and keep on fighting the good fight (lol).

    1. hey Paris Karin....hope all is well in Denver.:))

    2. Hi Karin!:) Good to see you again!:) I've been thinking about you:)

    3. Karin's here! We got the band back together!

      Oh Karin, so happy to see you. I see you regularly on FB so I don't feel too far removed from you, thankfully. And WE LOVE YOU TOO. Lucien still remembers you bringing the activities to our Paris apartment...

  7. Hate to tell you but it doesn't get any better as they get older. In fact, it gets way worse only fewer people see the absurdity of it. Honestly, if you want your kid to go to Harvard, your best bet is to move to Mississippi or Idaho, but then again, you'd be in Mississippi or Idaho for the rest of their childhoods (not that there's anything wrong with that….."

    1. That is not welcome news, Anne, though not too surprising. When did everything get so serious? I don't want to move to Mississippi. I've never been, but my gut says it's not the place for me. Guess I'll raise a bunch of fast food workers (not that there's anything wrong with that.... delicious....)

  8. Hi, I'm delurking to tell you how much I enjoy your writing. I found you in the Paris expat arena and have stuck around. I have a Loosh of my own (and 2 girls) so I can relate. Mine is 18 now and moving 2000 miles away for college (something I wasn't certain would happen). He's crazy, funny and the love of my life. I'm going to miss him so much. Thanks for the good times! Joan in Chicago

    1. It's a delurking! A delurking! Oh, how I love a good delurking. Thank you, Joan, for making yourself known. I always love to know who's out there.

      Your story makes me a little sad (yet happy). How will I ever send this kid off? Here's to heart-bursting crazy boys!