Friday, January 23, 2009

How to Win Friends and Influence People--the toddler version

Well, it helps if you're this guy:

We went to tour the first (and incidentally, our only; but more on that later) pre-school the other day, and this little man WORKED it. Like it was his job. First of all, the sheer elation of "going to school!" was enough to put him into his most adorable, smiley mood. He flirted with everyone, starting with the secretary administrative assistant who greeted us at the front office.
There was no denying that in Ethan's mind, he owned the place.

So the school? Awwwwwwesome. It's run by a local synagogue and was play-time central. I'm not sure what other people look for in a pre-school, but I want Ethan to run around, play dress-up, sing songs, get fresh air, learn to share and cooperate (as much as is toddlerly possible) and get covered in finger paints and come home with a load of sandbox sand in his shoes and diaper. This place totally fits the bill AND it comes along with a synagogue, which makes the wayward Jew in me feel so much more at home. After years of knowing that my parents secretly wondered if my identity as a Jew was slowly frittering away to nothing, I finally feel like I've got something to show for being part of the tribe. It's a good thing.

Anyway, back to Ethan. Mr. Man 'o the Hour. I'm SURE that it's part of the director of any pre-school's job to fawn and coo over every child who comes in to assess the school. I'm SURE that it's part of their routine to constantly marvel over the child's verbal skills and willingness to jump into an activity with the bigger kids in the class room. I'm SURE it's in their job description to find a way to whip the parents up into a "This is the perfect place for our child; our lives simply will not be complete unless we can drop him off into the loving arms of this woman every morning for the next 600 days of his life. Where do I sign?! For the love of god, WHERE do I sign???!!!" lather.

So let's just say, the director was damn good at her job. Husband and I tore Ethan away from the outdoor play area at the end of the tour, promising him that he'd be back. And he will. In about a month.

Turns out, they are starting a transition class in early February and they have a spot for the little man. And me. "Transition" means that I get to go with him. They say it's for the comfort level of the child, but let's be honest; Mama? Is a mess. The idea is that I will go with him for the first several weeks and then slowly extricate myself from the class room, but stay on the premises in case I'm needed. Meaning, I will have two hours to lounge on a couch in the social hall and read a book. If you know me at all, you know that this is my idea of a little slice of heaven.

Husband and I toyed with the idea of continuing our search, feeling like we would be remiss not to check out some of the other, costlier, more exclusive and competitive places. And then we laughed. Because honestly, if my goal for this year is to live a more mindful life, spending time touring places that we either have no shot of getting into simply because Ethan wasn't on a list while his lungs were still developing in the womb or that we know are overly competitive and/or highly structured, is probably the biggest waste of time and mindfulness possible.

We felt at home in this place. Ethan loved this place. They have room for us and are affordable. It seemed like a natural step for Ethan to fit into this place. After charming the woman at the front desk, the director and the handful of teachers that we observed during our tour, Ethan played with the kids in the pre-K class as we finished up in the play yard, saying our "thank you"'s and "we'll be in touch"'s with the director. When it was time to go, where did we find him? Being fawned over by two four year old girls who were already hugging him and trying to lure him into the play house. Whether it's playgroup in Virginia, the playground here in LA, or, apparently in pre-school, this boy has a way with the ladies.


AJU5's Mom said...

That place sounds cool! You can "put him" in class and stay around and just relax if you want! Do they have a gym (our local JCC has a gym)? Then you could kill another bird with one trip!

Oh, and I probably would have stopped looking too. I am not a huge fan of decisions and all...

Grandma Bear said...

Sounds fabulous and the response of all the people large and small he met sounds like echoes of his father!

Becca said...

PERFECT! I miss our cozy little church-run day care so much. It was very unstructured, but they cared for Charlie like he was their son or little brother. They even made tshirts that said "Charlie don't go" when we moved. It sounds like Ethan is going to love school!

Amy said...

That is such great news! See, I told you it would all work out.

And let me tell you, there is nothing as cute as your child's first menorah art project he brings home from Jewish preschool!

Cubby's Mom said...

That. Is. AWESOME!! I love that they allow for the transition time. Oh, and Ethan for President in...uh...a long time from now!

cicadalady said...

so happy for you guys!

Kayla said...


Sarah said...

How frigging awesome! i think we have discussed my jealously of your perfect program in several other online venues :)