Now that preschool acceptance letters have gone out, I’m hoping it’s no longer #toosoon to talk about how f-ing ridiculous the application questions are. If I were in charge of a preschool, the application would ask for the child’s name, birthdate, address, and a non-family reference, whom I would call and ask two things: (1) “Are these people normal-ish and (2) solvent?”
Instead, anxiety-ridden parents anguish for weeks about how to strategically answer the handful of questions these schools ask, questions that are so broad as to be paralyzing (“How would you describe your child?”), so specific as to be confounding (“What lullaby best suits your child and why?”) or just downright obnoxious (“What is your child’s favorite collection of poetry?”).
Is there any mother out there who hasn’t thought about how liberating it would be to answer these questions honestly? I’ve often thought that if a school admitted my child after reading what she is really like, well, that would be the surest indicator of the mythical “best fit.”
Let’s try it! Come on! If we all do it, no one will look bad by comparison. Here, I’ll go first.
Tell us a little bit about your child, including his or her strengths, weaknesses and special skills.
My daughter is an absolute delight, most of the time. She is incredibly sweet, thoughtful and affectionate, except when she doesn’t want to be, and then she is obstinate, selfish and sullen. She is terrifically funny, except when she’s humorless. She is spirited and mischievous, which my husband and I recognize are euphemisms for bratty and disruptive. She isn’t either, though, usually.
Among her strengths is her ability to use the unusual color of her eyes to hypnotize her parents into giving in to her specific demands, which include mint gum before breakfast, being allowed to wear a too-small tee shirt in the dead of winter, and getting snuggled before bed even though we have been snuggling her for 20 f-ing minutes already and we can smell our dinner burning downstairs.
Her weaknesses, which of course are few and far between, are detailed on the 4-page addendum you’ll find attached to this application. Most notably, she is prone to leaving chunks of half-eaten string cheese inside her bed, plowing through full boxes of bandaids in a single afternoon, and tattle-tailing on me to my husband.
Please tell us a little bit about your family.
We have three sons and one daughter, so one hundred children in total. We strive to be partners in all things, which is helped by the fact that he is usually at work and therefore not around to question the parenting choices I make, like starting mid-dinner dance-parties despite the fact that no one has eaten his or her squash, and also all my impatient yelling. We all love each other very much, and like each other some of the time. Our family values include kindness, respect, and individual iPads.
Please explain why this preschool is a good choice for your child.
This preschool is incredibly close to our house, and also it allows me to have three to six hours without my daughter each day. All the teachers seem nice, and the classrooms look clean. As previously noted, it is also quite close to our house, and also is not the most expensive of all the preschools we looked at.
What are your hopes and dreams for your child’s early childhood education?
I hope that preschool instills in her a love for learning, one she never loses, even when her genes take over and she has, like her mother before her, routine panic attacks related to memorizing the correct dates of the fall of the Roman Empire or the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand. I dream that she will be educated to no longer need a pull-up overnight. I hope she learns to read things other than the titles of various Daniel Tiger episodes listed on our DVR, and write things other than “TtttttttttttMM,” even though I recognize that is quite precious. I hope and dream that she will one day finish her string cheeses, learn that bandaids are unnecessary when the skin has not been broken, and keep her mouth shut when it comes to me having eaten whipped cream directly out of the can while making dinner last night.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about your child?
Our daughter is for sure better than a lot of the other kids applying to this school, so admitting her is not only a safe bet but a wise one. Her signature stripes-on-stripes sartorial style will never fail to cheer you up, and she has a funny little quasi-Jersey accent that will make you smile even when she’s just done something really annoying. Most importantly, please remember that she has a younger brother, so admitting her will guarantee you several additional years of tuition.