Thursday, March 10, 2011

Getting into Graham

I'm a little embarrassed to admit this, but it's true: I've been completely obsessed with getting Marley into Graham Preschool.

I know, I know. It shouldn't matter that much where she goes to preschool. After all, no matter where Marley goes to school, she won't emerge quoting Shakespeare. She'll probably still pick her nose.

But for some reason, Graham is the preschool to send your kid to in Coronado. Everyone talks about it and recommends it. Whenever I ask someone on the Island with older kids where the child went to preschool, the answer is always the same: "Oh, he/she goes to Graham. He/she loves it. It's the BEST. Is Marley on the list?"

There are, of course, other options. I've heard great things about Resurrection Preschool, and supposedly there is a Montessori school as well--it's just more expensive. (Mind you, I've never even VISITED any of these schools.) But Graham is the "it" school. Supposedly it's the best. And of course, for little Marley, nothing but the BEST will do!

Because GOD FORBID she not get into the "it" preschool. It could jeopardize everything! Her reading would suffer (do they even TEACH reading at 3 years old?) She might not be able to sing the ABCs on pitch, or be able to tell the difference between purple and magenta. She wouldn't be able to draw a perfect isosceles triangle. She would enter Coronado Village Elementary academically BEHIND the other kids, which would deflate her self esteem, essentially ruining her for life. I pictured her junior high school years filled with special-ed classes, and her dropping out of community college. (Never mind that Ian didn't even GO to college. True, he can barely read, but he makes more money selling boats then some doctors I know, lives a full and rich life, and never bemoans his utter lack of education.)

I digress.

Anyway, since it's getting so much more competitive to get into Graham, it's important you get on the waitlist as soon as possible (preferably at birth.) When it came to the waitlist, I was uncharacteristically slow on the uptake, and didn't get her on until she was 8 months old.

It was a terrible that would haunt me for years to come.

Marley's best friend Luca has been on the list since birth. His grandma tried to put him on sooner (actually, while he was in utero) but she was told they wouldn't put him on the list until he was actually born. (I guess that's a fair policy.)

When it came time for the fall enrollment process to start a couple of weeks ago, I sat on pins and needles every day, waiting for a phone call from Graham. Would she get in?

I placed a couple of friendly phone calls to the kind and ever-present Dana, who works at the school. You know, just to "check in" to make sure they had our new address, and say "how excited" Marley was to attend Graham in the fall to begin her academic studies. (Meanwhile Marley was sitting on my lap eating play-doh.) Dana assured me that we would hear something soon.

But we didn't. And others did. The news started to trickle in. Some of the girls at Book Club were getting calls from Graham...their kids were getting in. "Have you heard anything?" they'd ask me in hushed voices.

"No," I'd answer brightly, plastering a fake smile on my face. "But I'm sure we will soon!" Inwardly I panicked, silently cursing myself for getting her on the list so late.

The word on the street was that Graham was overwhelmed with the highest enrollment in history, and that many kids on the wait list would not get in.

I waited for the call. Nothing.

Then a few days ago, when I was rushing to get ready for an afternoon at the office, my good friend Cyndi called me. (Marley takes music and dance class with her daughter, Kaia.) Cyndi got Kaia on the waitlist just a few months before I did.

"Kaia got into Graham," Cyndi said. "She's in the Tuesday/Thursday program. I think she got in by the skin of her teeth. Have you heard?"

Although I was sincerely happy for Cyndi and Kaia, my heart started pounding and I heard a faint ringing in my ears. "THAT'S GREAT. I HAVE TO GO. I CAN'T TALK RIGHT NOW. I HAVE TO CALL GRAHAM. I'LL CALL YOU LATER," I said, practically in tears.

My hands were shaking. It took me three tries to dial the number for Graham correctly. "CAN I SPEAK TO DANA PLEASE? IT'S URGENT," I said to the receptionist when she answered. And, God bless her, Dana was in. She took my call, and gave me the most wonderful news...


I was practically in tears. When I got off the phone, I jumped up and down, let out a YIIPEEE!!!! and grabbed Marley and swung her around the room. I was as excited and giddy as I was when...well, I can't remember the last time I was so excited and giddy.

"Marley, you got into Graham!" I said.

"Mommy, I built a tower with my blocks and poured juice on it!" Marley responded, with an equal amount of enthusiasm.

So yes, I am very happy she got into her preschool. But seriously. Why must we put ourselves through these things as mothers? If she hadn't gotten into Graham, I'm sure something else would have worked out, and it would have been great. I mean, if I'm this emotional about Marley getting into preschool, how am I going to feel when Marley starts applying to colleges? Will I pull a "Forrest-Gump's-Mother" and whore myself out to college chancellors to make sure she gets into her first choice?

Of course not, but sometimes I wonder. I guess Motherhood makes you a little crazy sometimes. Go figure!


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