My jaw has been doing the equivalent of 1000 push-ups a day. I can’t stop the mental chatter. My mind has been on overdrive. I’ve been holding my breath and my skin is turning green, like the hulk has inhabited my soul.
There has been fear, worry and anger. All from a public school system that keeps me waiting on pins and needles. Babyface is just entering kindergarten, but the acceptance letters are more scarce than an Ivy League school.
When we purchased our home, we did it, almost solely, with the measure of the elementary school in mind. It was a 9 out 10. Not perfect, not large, but the best we could buy for our money. We live in an affluent area, so what you get for your money simply doesn’t go a long way. More jobs raise the cost of living. Job security equals less bang for your buck, because so many want to feel safe.
I thought it was a given that she would get into her neighborhood school. I thought wrong. As the scores of the schools have risen, the more families have migrated here with small children. And, there are only so many spots at the school they can fill. The rest are scattered to the other side of the main road or what some call “the other side of the tracks”. The scores are lower and the parent participation is minimal. We paid more, for the best in both.
I just found out that if the number of students outweighs the number of spots, there will be a lottery for the neighborhood kids. The ones that aren’t selected, like a bingo ball exiting a cage, will be shipped across the tracks to a less desirable school. I just found out that the more expensive house that we paid for did not buy us a spot in the neighborhood school. It only bought us the stress and worry of whether our number will randomly be selected.
Babyface is on the cusp of the age cutoff and I thought about holding her back, if only for social readiness. I even secured a spot in her current preschool, in the young 5s program. I also just found out that the district won’t allow it, as of this year. If I hold her back, then they’ll put her directly into first grade. That option has dissolved. It’s disappeared with their power-trip magic wand. And, if I don’t put her into the sketchy, somewhat scary school she may gain acceptance to, she won’t be first in line for an inter-district transfer to our neighborhood school.
She and I are that bingo ball, pounding back and forth on the walls of the cage, just hoping for a release. I wish my Monopoly get-out-of-jail-free cards were worth something, right now. I’m hugging her tight, in a ball, while my back pounds on the cage and the numbers are read, clear as surround sound.
I wish I had known. We would have purchased elsewhere and sent her to private school. They changed the system too recently and the lottery is too near in the future to relocate, right away. Besides, where would we live to assure her a good school? Do we stick her in a private school, pay thousands of dollars for a kindergarten education and then try to move? So many questions scramble in my mind, as I lay in bed and as I run around after the sun has risen. My teeth are grinding, as I write, to the beat of my computer keyboard.
Pre-child, I used to stress about whether I would get a specific job or have enough money for the perfect vacation or designer attire. Now, my teeth grind and chatter, because of the bundle of joy that is Babyface. The bundle of stress that only deserves the best in life. After all, controlling her surroundings (school, education and activities), teaching her right from wrong and teaching her perseverance and discipline are the only true parts I can play in her destiny. They’re the only true parts I can play in her ultimate happiness. The rest is up to her. And this latest news has put a gaping hole in the net that I’ve built for her.
I’m full of worry. I’m consumed by finding a back-up plan. My jaw muscles and teeth won’t get a break, until I feel comfortable that I’ve repaired that net with threads of steel wire, coated by a comfortable covering to catch her if she falls. For now, at least. For now, while she is only four.
I’m Under Pressure, Queen-style. I know there is more to life. I know that life could be worse, but when it comes to Babyface, every question in her life sets my lifeline on the verge of a flatline. I never want her to suffer. I only want and pray for the best for her.