School’s Out for the Summer

Cookie through the monitor:  Cockadoodledooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

Mommy: Uh.  It’s 6 AM on a Saturday.

Cookie running to our room:  Wake up guys!

Me: Brrelgggghh. Wha?

Cookie:  Cockadoodledooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

Mommy: We have a chicken.

Cookie: I’m not a chicken.  I’m trying to wake you up.  You have to take me to camp.

Mommy:  On Monday.  It’s the weekend.  Go back to sleep.

Cookie:  But school is over.  It’s time for camp.

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The Craziness of a New York Education

When looking for private schools in New York, the three-hour interview for a toddler to enter a pre-k 3 (that’s pre-kindergarten for three-year olds) class isn’t even the craziest part of the process.  Actually, that bears repeating.  The application process begins a year in advance, so that’s a three-hour interview for two-year olds to enter a class for three-year olds a year later.  Let the craziness begin.

First, there’s the parent essays.

What is your child’s greatest accomplishment?”  Not pooping her pants?  Talking?  Walking without face planting?

What are your child’s occupational aspirations?”  Seriously?  She’s two.  Her idea of a work day consists of nap time and finger painting.

What does your child want to study in college?”  Hey, she still a year away from her first day of pre-pre-kindergarten, and she hasn’t even had her first day of school, but let’s skip right to college questions.

I have no idea how I managed to write the required essays (paragraphs, with an “s”, as in, several paragraphs on the supposed academic credentials of a two-year old) for each those questions, but I filled in the questionnaire and sent it in.

On the big day, after the teachers called the students in, Mommy and I sat with a small group of parents when the Director of something or other with an overly fancy title appeared.

Director:  Good morning, parents.  I wanted to thank everyone for coming, but I don’t want anyone to get their hopes up.  As I’m sure everyone already knows, this year we have over 5,000 applicants for just fifty spots.

That’s… a lower acceptance rate than Harvard.  For pre-kindergarten.  Makes… sense.

Director:  Blah, blah, blah.  Tuition this for this year is $42,000.  Blah, blah, blah.

Holy…  This pre-kindergarten class is more expensive than Harvard.

Four hours later, the teachers brought you back to the waiting room.

Me:  How was it, Cookie?

Cookie:  It was fun, Daddy.

Me:  What did they ask you, Cookie?

Cookie:  They asked me to read a book.*  Then a different teacher came to ask me questions in Chinese.

Me:  Did you answer in Chinese?

Cookie:  Yep.  Then another teacher asked me questions in Korean, and another in Spanish.

Me:  What did they ask?

Cookie:  Silly questions.  Then they asked me to count to twenty and look at shapes and colors.

A week later, we received a happy phone call.  I’m proud of you, Cookie.  You were one of the fifty.

Me: Wonderful, so what will you teach in this class?

Director:  Letters, numbers, colors: the Common Core

Me:  But, with that many applicants, you’ve presumably selected only kids who can already read.

Director:  Yes, and I think your daughter will fit right in.

Me: So you’re still going to teach letters to kids who can read?  You’re not going to teach them anything they don’t already know?

College tuition for glorified day care?  No, thank-you.

_________________

* Fortunately, it was Good Night Moon.  You have that book memorized, Cookie.

Tiger Mom Parenting

Sorry, Cookie.  Mommy is a Tiger Mom.  As a kid of another Tiger Mom (your Grandma), I know how it feels.  To be fair to Mommy, you did ask for it.  You did tell Mommy that you weren’t taking naps during nap time, and you did ask for a grid for you to practice writing Chinese.

I’m quite torn.  You’re in a pre-K 3 class with other three- and four-year olds where the teacher has been teaching a letter a week, but you’ve been able to read English before you turned two, and you’re now writing complete sentences (you get your messy handwriting from me).  The problem you’re going to face is the repetition as pre-K 4 and then kindergarten will teach the same letters and numbers all over again.  Skipping grades will only mean that you lose years from your childhood, so rather than let you get too far ahead, Mommy taught you to read and write Korean.  Now, since you’ve become as proficient with Korean as you are with English, we switched to Chinese.  In my defense (I swore never to be as pushy as Grandma), I never pushed you, but I also couldn’t discourage your wish to learn.  If you wished to read a book, well, who were we to say no?  If you wished to practice writing, how could we refuse?

Yet, there’s something inherently wrong sending “homework” to school for a four-year old to complete during nap time in pre-kindergarten, but what could I do? I couldn’t even tell you to put aside your little grid and play with your friends, because the teachers prohibit playing during nap time.  I know you won’t nap.  You could read during nap time, if you wished it, but you did ask for the grid to practice writing Chinese.  I can’t discourage your wish to learn, can I?

Mommy was quite angry when you ended up doodling all over the little practice grids instead of filling in the characters, and I couldn’t tell you how happy I was that you did what you did.  I’m proud of you, Cookie.

Really Expensive Strawberries

The corner deli sells a pound of strawberries for $2.50.

That one-pound carton costs between $4.99 and $6.99 at Whole Foods.

Head into Chinatown, and the street vendors will sell that one-pound carton for $1.25, a ridiculous price for the isle of Manhattan, even in the height of strawberry season.

So, how much did we pay for our strawberries, Cookie?

Mommy insisted on renting a car for the day: $184 (It’s a nice car, but the rental was only for one day.  Everything is more expensive here.)

We drove out into New Jersey: $45 (tolls)

Picking fee: $8 ($4 dollars per adult.  Yep, we paid the farm to work for them).

Strawberries: $9.5 ($3.5 per pound, at 5 pounds, minus a refund of the picking fee)

Total cost of strawberries: $49.30 per pound.

Strawberry Picking

Yep, those are the most expensive strawberries I’ve ever purchased, but if that’s the price to pay in order for me to raise a city girl who isn’t afraid of getting dirt under her fingernails, it’s totally worth it.

Strawberry Picking 2

You also picked a half pound of asparagus, but calculating the cost of an asparagus picking trip is just depressing.