Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Pre-School Interviews? Pre-School Interviews.

I have recently (and by "recently", I actually mean "since she was 3 months pregnant") been informed by my Wife that in order for a Sidney to get into a private pre-school in NYC, there is a rigorous and very competitive interview process that must be navigated.  If you are anything like me, that sentence is tantamount to abject madness.  Forget the fact that we have to start the process almost 2 years before he's even old enough to be matriculated (dead serious), this is pre-school we are discussing.  Finger painting, paste eating, basic socialization and the daily nap.  How, exactly, does one interview, much less competitively, for pre-school?  Would Sidney be forced to sit for a Pre-Pre-Pre-Pre-SAT?  Would we need to get letters of recommendation from his baby-sitters?  Does he have to submit his best crayon-scribbles-in-lieu-of-personal-essay?  Should he be doing extra ... wait, he isn't even doing curriculars, how the hell are we supposed to get him extra-curriculars!?  He's not even on toddler student-government ...

Realizing that I was approaching this from the entirely wrong direction (one premised upon the notion that the process made sense), my Wife broke the news to me that the whole thing is rigorous and competitive because it is the parents that are being interviewed.  Oh, sure, the schools want to meet the kids, but I am convinced this is just to make sure they are not dealing with some uncontrollable hellion, hopped up on sugar and lugging blueprints for mischief.  The core of the process, its unapologetic sine qua non, is the parent interviews.  In a nutshell, the Wife and I would have to fill out long applications listing all sorts of information about ourselves.  Our education, our income, our hobbies, our jobs.  Then, after all this, we'd need to sit through personal interviews with the schools.  Let that sink in.  A pre-school administrator would interview me, and the outcome of that interview would dictate whether our bouncing boy got into the pre-school.  That's right folks, Sidney's screwed.

It's not that I don't interview well, indeed my academic and professional careers would dictate the contrary.  No, it's that my consternation with being, ostensibly, interviewed so that my son could attend a pre-school would permeate my every answer.  Remember, we're already filling out questionnaires on Sidney (and ourselves), and they are meeting him.  What questions, specifically for me, other than "is that your son?", "can you pay the tuition?" and "will your son cause our casualty insurance rates to go up?" are actually relevant?  Sure, my Wife would undoubtedly (and rightfully) have me killed in some creative manner or another if I didn't play nice with the "interviewer" asking me about some wholly irrelevant thing  ... but let's be realistic here, this is me.

Please understand, my cognitive dissonance on the topic is triggered not by them wanting to meet us, this makes perfect sense (the "what are we getting into with these people" factor), but by the declared competitive and extensive nature of the parents' interviews.  Some answer I give makes Sidney a better pre-schooler?  An answer given by someone else's parent means Sidney is a less worthy pre-school candidate?  Asking me what books on parenting I have read (actual application query) is going to determine whether Sidney will be able to handle the rigors of free-play time?  Of course these don't make sense, and things that don't make sense make me ask questions.  Mostly, questions that force the person attempting to feed me the nonsense to reflect on the abject inanity of their position; and thus we have me being murdered in my sleep (ok, there are other steps involved, mostly variations on my Wife screaming at me that I knew what the game was, so why did I have to make the interviewer cry, but that's not important).

However, I may have been spared a gruesome demise (temporarily), as my Wife has decided that the exorbitant costs of pre-schools in NYC makes the entire endeavor possibly a poor ROI proposition (translation: we looked up tuition and choked).  Instead, she's trying to find us an apartment in a neighborhood zoned for a really good public school.  In NYC, this means either a condo or co-op building ... which means we'll have to go through a Board-of-Managers interview to buy the apartment.  That's right folks, we're screwed.

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