So the other day we got a packet in the mail from the preschool. Never mind that the beginning of preschool is over four months away; I guess this is when it all begins. Inside the envelope was just what you'd expect: immunization and other health forms to be signed by our pediatrician, an emergency contact card for the school's files, forms to fill out listing Julia's likes, dislikes, skills, particular needs (if any), etc. Oh, and the sheet listing the tuition and when it's due. OK, I don't expect preschool to be free, and my understanding is that this program is reasonably priced, but to get a tuition bill in early May, right at the vivid blossoming explosion of spring, when all you want to think about is the carefree summer ahead (not how the heck you're going to pay one more bill), is, well, a bit of a buzzkill.
However, the tuition bill wasn't nearly as much of a buzzkill as the notice, in bold caps, that ALL CHILDREN MUST BE POTTY TRAINED; NO PULL-UPS! No Pull-Ups? THAT is hardcore. Let's just say that right then, my concerns about paying the preschool bill started to fade away, so unlikely does it seem at this point that by fall Julia will be potty-trained--and, in fact, potty-trained to such a degree that she does not even need Pull-Ups. I could be wrong. But really? Seems unlikely. (Actually she only has until August, when the first tuition installment becomes unrefundable.)
Then there was the firm statement that "all families are expected to volunteer on a committee" and that "parents are expected to volunteer in the classroom." However, naturally, "no other children are allowed" to come along during these classroom stints. What, I'm supposed to pay for childcare for one child so that I can go volunteer in the preschool room of the other? Apparently, I am!
Yeah, yeah, I know this is TOTALLY typical, that this is what you have to do when you have a kid in preschool. I'm sure it's even typical to send out the tuition bill in May. But it just felt a little unseemly to me, anyway--the surprise early tuition bill, the stern warning about Pull-Ups, the faintly authoritarian "we expect you to volunteer." Maybe it was just my mood at the time, but it just about begged the cliched reaction of, What, my tuition money isn't enough?
I don't mean to sound, um, less than enthusiastic and appropriately involved. As a psychologist and an educated, interested parent, of course I know that parental involvement in a child's school experiences predicts a host of positive outcomes. I was just thinking that, oh, maybe that kind of thing wouldn't need to happen in earnest QUITE this early. Like, maybe my three-year-old could go to nursery school for two hours at a time a couple of mornings a week while I at last enjoy some quality alone time with my infant--maybe taste the semi-freedom of only one child to care for on those mornings--without having to throw in extra hours of my time here and there for committees and projects? Like, isn't there enough time for all that craziness during, oh, the next FIFTEEN YEARS?
Maybe another year (of Pull-Ups!) before preschool wouldn't be the worst thing in the world?