So kindergarten packets were available this week from our local elementary school. Being the dutiful mother I am, I went the day the packets were released to get one for my oldest child. I filled out the preliminary paperwork and chatted up the administrator (a lovely, older woman). Now, after this, my kid wasn’t registered. Oh, no. On January 30 at 8am, the office begins accepting registration forms, and here’s the kicker: there’s an early session and a late session and it’s first-come, first-serve. First session starts at 9am, and second session starts at 10:35am. The kids have a staggered half-day of school, with some overlap. Each group of kids gets the same length of time with the teachers, but there’s more individual attention than just having the kids all start at one time.
I should note our district is quite large, so this was what they had to do to accommodate all the kids. By 3rd grade, everyone starts “early” and there’s no staggering. I also need to note that once you are assigned an early slot or a late slot, you keep the same slot for the next three years. If you want to change it, you have to petition the school in a specialized process. Complicated, no?
For working parents, it’s seen as very desirable to get the earlier slot. After all, what are you going to do with your kid for a couple of hours in the morning if you’re supposed to be at work? But I’ve heard from friends and neighbors that the competition to get an early slot is fierce, and parents are now camping out overnight to ensure their kid gets the early start time that they want.
Before I left after picking up the packet, I turned back to the administrator.
“Tell me about the registration insanity,” I said.
She just gave me a look. “What do you want to know?” she asked warily.
I laid it on the line. “I’ve heard that parents get really psychotic about registration.”
She laughed ruefully. “Yes. They are, indeed, psychotic about it. Your word,” she quickly added. “If you don’t care about start time, don’t show up on the 30th.”
“And if I do care?”
“Show up early.”
“Last year, 5am would have been all right.”
I let out a long sigh. “See, I’m not a psychotic helicopter mom, but I work, and I have two other kids coming down the line and there will be overlap so when my next youngest starts school, the older one will have to be in an early slot. I feel like I’m being forced into being someone I’m not – someone who’s psychotic about this. This isn’t me. I swear.”
“I know,” she said sympathetically. “You’re not alone. Just come early.”
She made me feel a bit better, but not much.
Mr. Barrett and I haven’t quite decided what we’re going to do, but I have a sneaking suspicion that I’ll be standing outside the office wicked early on January 30th. I’ll write another post after the madness is over.