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February 02, 2009

Preschool Unwelcome Tour

Susan I thought I was making yet another run-of-the-mill request call to tour a preschool for my two- and three- year-old daughters when the administrator caught me off guard, concluding our tour arrangements by saying, "We ask that you bring both the children."

Well, this was new. I'd visited four other schools solo (granted, by my own choice) and it was exciting to encounter an admissions process that actually required the potential pupils. I had soothing visions of the tightly padlocked doors of pint-sized academia swinging gently open to welcome us at last.

Upon our arrival on visiting day, we were immediately ushered into the preschool's library to await the director. The girls excitedly recognized several books on the shelves from their own collection at home, and my older daughter confidently told the director her name when she arrived to begin showing us around. We may have been off to a scholarly start, but I left feeling like a dismal failure; that day, I officially earned an "F" in the subject of preparing my children for the realities of the preschool environment. 

It all started at Tour Stop #1, the two-year-old room. I looked over from my conversation with the teacher just in time to see a little boy smash into my older daughter with a shopping cart. She wordlessly stared at him, then me, rubbing her hip and waiting for a resolution that would never come. Luckily she found some solace in a teaching assistant's invitation to make a marshmallow snowman with pretzel arms and a gumdrop hat.

Then, en route to our next stop, the girls' enthusiasm bubbled up full force again, and they half-ran, half-leaped down the hall yelling, “This is so exciting!” Their zeal was met with a nonplussed shushing from the director.

Tour Stop #2, the three-year-old room, began encouragingly as the girls smoothly integrated themselves into a tea party in-progress. "Great transitioning away from you!" the teacher enthused to me, but her praise was cut short by a high-pitched whine from my older daughter. She had apparently turned her attention away from a Disney princess camera, and another little girl had picked it up, prompting a full-blown red-faced, arms-crossed, "That's mine" meltdown.

I spent a painful, even redder-faced minute futilely trying to distract my daughter with the wonders of cutting playdough or using chopsticks in the bowl of yarn "spaghetti." Finally, the teacher calmly approached the deadlocked girls, saying to her student, "What would be the kind thing to do?" The student immediately handed the camera over to my daughter and walked away.

We returned to the library and my daughters' behavior continued to deteriorate -- beginning with wild flinging of books off the shelves that earned them a brisk clean-up request from the director. By the end of my straining to hear her detailed explanation of school policies and the admissions process, both girls were laying on the floor kicking and crying.

As we exited and headed toward the car, my younger daughter broke away from me and madly dashed for the parking lot. As I frantically grabbed for her coat hood to halt her impromptu escape, the intricate pile of registration forms flew from my hands, only to be presented back to me by a very concerned looking couple who had left the building right behind us.

Upon arriving home, I realized we had forgotten the marshmallow snowman with pretzel arms and the gumdrop hat.

This is an original post to Philly Moms Blog.

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