Forgive me, I'm going to get on my soapbox for a moment. While out to dinner with friends last night, the talk turned to education. We discussed assessments, interviews, essays, applications and top-secret interactive spreadsheets for hours. My head was ready to explode by the time the check came.
Now I know what you are thinking...I look way too young to have a college-bound child.(Or at least you better be thinking that!) So then you might throw up a little bit in your mouth when I tell you that the above mentioned things are all for entrance to KINDERGARTEN!!!
Yes, you heard that right-kindergarten. Apparently choosing the right one is a life or death decision these days. I've always told myself I wouldn't be one of those parents who does a PowerPoint presentation for their kid's preschool assignment and for the most part, I'm not. I really do try to keep things in perspective.
But what I underestimated was the influence of other parents. It's almost impossible not to get worked up into a frenzy when your mom friends are going overboard. I seem to be the only one who hasn't put together a spreadsheet detailing everything from test scores to lead analysis of the drinking fountains. And this information is protected with vigor from lazy moms like myself that don't love their kids enough to spend hours on the computer researching and analyzing every last detail.
Maybe I am lazy, but part of me feels like it's because I love my kids so much that I refuse to give in to this craziness. To believe that my child's entire future is dependent on whether she attends the right kindergarten. That she'll end up as some crackwhore living on the streets if I send her to the public school a block away rather than the private one with the shiny brochure and pricey tuition.
Maybe my view stems from the simplicity of my childhood, growing up in a small town in San Diego. My parents would throw my two older brothers and I in the backseat of our enormous yellow Buick and take off. No car seats or seat belts-this was the 70's people! Then we would speed down the street to school. Once there, we would play on "The Fort", a ridiculously dangerous wood monstrosity on the playground that was torn down in the mid-80's after the school district finally declared it unsafe. After that, I would walk home with my brothers to our unlocked house and they would torture me until my Mom got home that evening. Yes, the world has changed a lot since then, but I'm still trying to find some sort of balance between the values of the two eras. And I like to think that I turned out pretty decent. I may not be able to locate North Dakota on a map or balance the checkbook well, but for the most part, the California state school system did right by me.
The bottom line is that we need to remember no matter what school our kids attend, it's their values and determination that shapes who they become. Although my parents may have put me in mortal danger each time I got in a car with them, they taught me to be independent and that I can achieve anything if I'm willing to work hard.
So Spreadsheet Moms of the world, cut moms like me a little slack. We have a five-point plan too, it's just a little different from yours. And if my daughter does end up a crackwhore, I officially give you permission to say "I told you so!" But only after you make a spreadsheet for me detailing all the best rehabs.