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.

Toddlers Are Devious

Sophia crying: Cookie, why are you in my stroller?  I want to ride in my stroller.

Cookie:  You can ride my stroller.  That way we’ll end up at my house or at your house.  We’ll have a playdate.

Sophia smiling:  OK!

Cookie:  Make sure you buckle in.

Called My Bluff

The last vestiges of winter, a little failed reverse psychology for a little girl who’s too smart for your own good, and a little must-carry-out-the-silly-threat-to-teach-you-a-lesson parenting ethos lead to more embarrassment than I care to admit.  I really hope you grow up to appreciate the things I had to go through as a dad, Cookie.

Me: Cookie, it’s surprisingly cold today.  Wear your hat.

Cookie: No.

Me: Cookie, I don’t want you to get sick.  Wear your hat.

Cookie: No.

Me: If you don’t wear your hat, I’m going to wear it.

Cookie:  Okay.  You wear it.

Me: If I wear it, you can’t wear it.

Cookie: Okay.

Me:  Don’t tell me you want to wear it later.  I won’t give it to you.

Cookie: Okay.

Me:  Are you sure you won’t get jealous later? [Please don’t make me wear this.]  Last chance.  [Let me keep my dignity.]  It’s your favorite hat.

Cookie:  No, I don’t want my hat, Daddy.

Lesson learned: that’s the last time I make silly threats.

If anyone saw a grown man walking around the city wearing a Hello Kitty hat, holding the hand of an evilly grinning but hatless toddler a couple weeks ago, that was I.  Hello.

Crisis Averted .. But

I should probably remember that all the little scares I have about what the future may hold are simply little quirks from a toddler’s highly imaginative mind.

Cookie sitting in an Uber van on the way back from the airport:  Daddy, when I grow up, I’m not going to get married.

Me: [YAY, no more teenage marriage/pregnancy with eight kids and no job!] Oh?

Cookie: No.  When I grow up, I’m going to buy a big car and drive you and Mommy around.

Mommy:  You’re going to give us rides?

Cookie:  Yep.  Where ever you want to go.  I’ll live with Mommy and Daddy forever.

Me: [D’oh!] … Umm… That’s very sweet, Cookie.

Happy Easter

I’m not sure exactly why it started, but every Easter morning, we set up a miniature Easter egg hunt for you in the living room.  It started when you were a few months old when I bought a dozen plastic eggs.  Over the years, you attended various Easter egg hunts at various events, and this year (late last night) when I ran out of hiding spaces in the living room, I suddenly came to the realization that you’ve adopted my packrat ways.  In three years, you’ve accumulated 138 and 5/2 (unmatched halves) eggs.  How?

Mommy and I, fearful that you’d accumulate those cheap plastic eggs that will never degrade, intentionally bought you a little basket that couldn’t hold that many eggs in the first place.  As you don’t like candy anyway, Cookie, we’re the family that gives away our eggs at every Easter egg hunt.  138! (and 5/2).

Maybe the Easter Bunny is real, and he lays cheap plastic eggs all over our house.  Litterbug.


You haven’t played with this toy since you were six months old.  I think the only reason why I haven’t gotten rid of the alligator is that he’s such a great hiding place for Easter eggs.  You always give him a double take.

….And Downhill We Go

Just when I’m wrenching my arm out patting myself on the back for raising an independent and strong little girl, you pulled the rug right out from under me.

Cookie:  Look, Daddy, I’m pushing my imaginary stroller.

Me:  Uh huh.

Cookie: It’s got a seat up here, and one up here, and one up here, and one up here, and one back there, and one back there, and one down there, and one down there.

Me …4, 5, 6..: Cookie, you’ve got 8 kids?!?

Cookie: Almost, I have one still in my tummy.

Me:  Wow, Cookie, that means you’re going to be very busy.

Cookie:  Yeah, I’ll need two kitchens to cook for my kids and my husband.

Mommy:  Your husband doesn’t cook?

Cookie:  No, he has to work.  I’m staying home to raise the kids.

Mommy: !

Cookie:  It’s a big house with two kitchens.  He makes a lot of money. We’ll get married at 19.

Me: [facepalm].

I see that we have a lot of work to do.

Little Ms. Fix-It and the Crash

My blissful Sunday morning sleep was interrupted by a jarring CRASH.  I’m still groggy and blinking the sleep from my eyes when the bedroom door opens.

Cookie holding out a hand:  Everything is ok.

Cookie:  Do you know what that crash was?

Mommy and I sleepily shake our heads.

Cookie: That was my Rubik’s Cube.  Don’t worry, I’ll fix it with my tools.

The sounds of your little footsteps running down the hall are followed immediately by the sounds of hammering.

Three warring thoughts enter my head.

I’m so proud that you’re going to know your way around tools.  I tend to fix things around the house, and you’ve always followed me around asking to help, and you’ve always been disappointed when I asked you not to touch the heavy or sharp tools and the less than healthy chemicals  (responsible parenting isn’t as much fun as I thought it would be).  After we bought you your own toolset, however, you proudly carried that thing around the house looking for to fix.  That’s my girl.

Proud as I am, there’s a little nagging worry in my head (I’m such the responsible parent, as you know) about that loud crash.  What happened?  What did you break?  You’re obviously not extensively injured, since you walked over and told us so.  There’s no smell of smoke.  I guess I don’t feel so bad if I…

Sleep.  Blissful sleep… for three more minutes.