Too Young?

Posted: March 8th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Doctors, Milestones, Misc Neuroses, Miss Kate, Preschool | 3 Comments »

I was driving to a doctor’s appointment peering out the window at the street numbers.

2844… 2846… 2848… 2850!

Wait a second. Duggan’s Funeral Home?

I looked back at my paper. 2850 Telegraph, and up again at the mortuary. 2-8-5-0.

This was unsettling.

A call to the doctor’s office revealed that the news of my condition was not as grave as my end-point had led me to believe. I needed to go 2850 Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, not Oakland.

“You really should make that clear to people,” I muttered into the phone, making a U-turn.

The reality of my doctor’s appointment was only somewhat less disquieting. I was seeing a rheumatologist, because after months of what I thought was lingering postpartum back pain, an x-ray revealed something far more damaging to my mental state on aging. I have arthritis.

I’m over 40 and all, but come ON. Arthritis?

Earlier that week I’d taken Paigey for her two-year-old check up. Random banter with the doctor got us to the topic of school applications—his son’s applying to college, and we’re neck-deep in finding a kindergarten for Kate.

“I took something you said a while ago to heart,” I proclaimed, as if I were giving him a grateful thump on the back. “It was a offhanded remark, but you said, ‘When they’re ready for Kindergarten, they’re ready!’ Even though Kate’ll be young in her class, we think she’s ready.”

“Uh, how old is she again?” he asked sheepishly, looking up from thumping Paigey’s belly.

What ensued was back-pedaling. Lots and lots of backpedaling, wherein the good doctor told me that whatever he’d said that one time that really stuck with me, that was actually maybe not what he’d suggest now. “So many kids are doing an extra year of preschool,” he said gently, knowing he was rocking my world. “Kate could be as much as a year-and-a-half younger than some kids in her class.”

Weeks of school tours and open houses, epic why-my-kid’s-so-great essays, costly application fees, and the gallons and gallons of sweat that poured from my palms through the whole process. Mark and I have invested so much in finding a school for Kate. To pull the plug on it now—if only for a year—would be more disappointing to us than to Kate.

I carried Paige through the parking lot and loaded her into the car, doing some kinda Lamaze breathing to stave off a primal scream. Within seconds of pulling onto the road I had the lovely impossible-to-get-into preschool on the line. Paige is going there next year, and they accepted Kate to their pre-K program. But back in January we passed up giving them a deposit. We decided to roll the dice on her kindergarten options.

I summoned my powers of persuasion as I purred into the phone, “Might it not be too late to still admit Kate?” Then I called Mark, quickly recounting my convo with the doctor. Like a army colonel plotting my next move, I visualized the lay of the land before me—private schools still to hear from, staying at her current preschool, seeing what comes of the public school lottery. Whatever we decided, we’d certainly cast the net wide. We were brimming with options—and indecision.

I  made some more calls, unwrapped a snack bar and handed it back to Paige, and even used my turn signal when changing lanes. I work well under pressure.

That week I grew convinced that “holding Kate back” (a term a neighbor suggested I change to “giving her the gift of another year”) was our critical course of action. But today I’m waffling.

For one, we got into the good public school. Totally honestly too! No bluffing on our home address, or having to get someone else to adopt the girls. This unexpected news got us thinking. Is it foolish to turn aside a perfectly good free eduction for Kate, and eventually Paige?

The thing is, if we want that, she starts kindergarten in September. Do not pass go. Do not waddle through another year of preschool. Do not accept the gift of another year.

And for some reason in the past few days everyone’s all in my face with, “Kate’s SO ready for kindergarten.” Seriously, I’ll be talking about something totally different and suddenly the person I’m chatting with belches out something passionate about Kate and kindergarten, like they’re the most natural pairing since peanut butter and jelly. Or Captain and Tennille.

Friday we find out about private schools. Mark and I are so deeply fired up about these places, I can’t imagine noting wanting them if they say they want Kate. We should also hear whether she’ll get off the lovely preschool’s pre-K wait list. And let’s not forget the tempting lure of FREE public school.

We get a week to decide what to do. Hopefully we’ll find out we have more good options to add to the mix. But before we decide where to send her, we need to figure out when. We need to come to Jesus about whether-or-not she’s too young to move forward.

If I squint I think I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. In a couple weeks we’ll be able to spank our hands together and put this behind us. Which is great because I can’t imagine that all this stress is good for my arthritis.


3 Comments on “Too Young?”

  1. 1 Megan K. said at 10:36 pm on March 8th, 2010:

    Oh Kristen, I feel for you! We were there last year at this time. And decided to go for it b/c like Kate, Ella won the lottery for a good public (aka free) school — among a myriad of other little reasons. On most days I’m happy with our decision — she loves Kindergarten. But ask me again when she graduates HS and starts college at 17!

  2. 2 Stacey Kannenberg said at 8:53 am on March 9th, 2010:

    Both of my girls, now in 5th and 3rd grade are the youngest in their classes. They have always been a bit behind in growth and fine motor skills (gym and sports) than kids that are 2-11 months ahead of them. It’s amazing how those few months can make a difference. Academically and socially they have excelled so for me those were deciding factors. You may want to ask yourself: How will they act socially in Kindergarten? If you are unsure build a network so that they have friends that they already know when they enter school. Join the PTA to network and build some friendships for your family for home and school. Is your child ready for the curriculum? Can she identify the letters mixed up: B, D, K, J, etc.? Does she know basic shapes, colors and coins? Can she count objects to 10, identify numbers 0-10 mixed up and how far can she count to 100? She does not need to master these skills yet but it helps if she has been exposed to them and has a thirst to learn more!

    We did the intense school search when our girls were 4 and 2 and interviewed school after school. I was thinking I was going to have to drive 45 minutes one way to go to the Christian school that my husband attended. But shockingly, we ended up loving the public school that was 3 minutes away — we sat in on all the Kindergarten classes in several different schools, spending about 5-10 minutes in each class and even attended lunch with our kids observing at each school. Hands down we were most impressed with the teachers at the public school closest to our house. To our amazement, the Christian school was not as welcoming and the teachers were not as inspiring as what we had hoped thus making our decision an easy one. Looking back, we are still very happy with our school. We have been active in our PTA and attend school board meeting and sadly we have had to our share of battles to fight. It has forced us to take an active role in our community along with a small close circle of friends inside and outside the walls of our school to try to fix some of the problems with public education to make it even better!

  3. 3 becca said at 2:11 pm on March 12th, 2010:

    Max is one of the eldest in the class. This was after we attended ALL the meetings to push him into kindergarten “early” since he missed the cut-off by 3 weeks. Mrs. A-Type over here KNEW he was ready and he would excel. I KNEW he had the skills to be one of the youngest and still kick ass. I KNEW he would be bored in one more year of Pre-K.

    Well, I looked at all the neighborhood kids doing their homework, reading and not playing at the park because they had to go home to study (in 1st grade, mind you), and Omar and I both looked at each other and said “Why??” Why bring homework into their life one year earlier. Why stop playing one year earlier? Why have one less year to just be a kid? Why go to college less mature by a year?

    So, we waited. Max wasn’t bored in Pre-K for that “extra” year. Now, he is great in 1st grade. Socially, he is awesome. In math and sports he kicks butt…. but he isn’t the greatest reader yet. That completely surprised me. And he would have been REALLY hard if he was in 2nd grade this year.

    That was our experience. Do with it what you will…

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