Suburban Snapshots

Clawing at the Slippery Slope

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Next week Anna's moving up from her current room at daycare into the adjacent preschool class. I have no problems with her current school; I like the teachers (after some turnover, the fortuitous return of her most-favorite-ever teacher, and the long-overdue resignation of an inexplicably cranky one), the location couldn't be better, the rate is beyond reasonable, and she has the most adorable, miniature friends — even one kid who's been the source of two incident reports seems to be chilling the hell out. So it surprised even me when I found myself researching other area preschools. Still more unexpected is that I was doing it based entirely on what other moms were doing.

Who am I?

It happened at a birthday party over the weekend. I was chatting with a very nice, well-put-together mom with a little boy in Anna's class. Both she and the mother of the birthday girl were pulling their kids from the daycare and enrolling them in a stand-alone preschool. Knowing the shorter hours and likely higher rates at dedicated pre-Ks, this move had never been a consideration for us; we need the full day and God knows we don't need to up our expenses. But minutes into the conversation I felt something start whirring in my brain, questioning my decision to stay put, wondering what benefits I might be denying Anna by keeping her at a mixed daycare/preschool. Would they teach better at the other school? Could I be squandering precious learning years? Am I supposed to teach her to read?

Ultimately we've decided to keep her where she is. She's adjusted and happy, I love that all of the other classrooms' teachers know her, that at pick up all of her tiny friends scream, "Anna! Your mommy's here!" as though I'd arrived on a pony with my arms full of kittens dipped in sugar.

But even as I'm putting this moment behind me, I find a similar pattern starts to emerge when considering Anna's activities. Today I combed the websites of three local dance schools, cross-referencing each program with the schedule for the soccer camp I signed her up for and the gymnastics class she's been taking for three months. I'm not sure what triggers it but I know I never wanted to be this mom — next I'll be spending two hours a day at the gym, volunteering for bake sales, and organizing preschool study groups. I'm jeopardizing my lazy laid-back mom title with each intramural.

I guess in this scenario like in every other parenting situation I've encountered these past three years, I'll just wing it, trust my instincts, and hope like hell I'm not messing up my kid in the process.

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