The Preschool Forecast
The storm had begun. Weather forecasters urged the public to stay inside as temperatures plummeted, winds reached 40 mph, and 12 inches of snowfall was expected. From my apartment view, I could see pedestrians battling the wind gusts, cabs resembling clown cars, commuters in an uproar, bus drivers in a tizzy, and panicky parents taking their toddlers to preschool interviews. You can probably guess which category I was most associated with.
Today was my daughter's preschool interview. We were applying her to a "2s program," otherwise known as a crucial year in the life of academia. Lucky for us, she was allotted the 2pm slot which falls perfectly in the middle of nap time. For those who are unfamiliar with this time of day, nap time is sacred. Around 12:45pm, mothers across Manhattan make a mad dash for home as their toddlers begin to nod off in the stroller. Those 2-3 hours of complete quiet belong to us, and only us. Every minute is cherished, every selfish act is celebrated, and every deep breath feels so ridiculously good. This is also a time for our children to re-charge -- an important component of sanity throughout every household.
With that being said, a 2pm interview in the middle of a blizzard has "absolute nightmare" written all over it. To guarantee my daughter got some solid shuteye before her big moment, I decided to take her for a walk in the stroller knowing that hail chips and wind gusts would outshine any lullaby.
Twenty minutes into my walk, my daughter is now fast asleep and I have an hour left in my expedition through this brutal blizzard. Eight streets and four avenues to cross. A breeze. A cold one, for that matter.
Just then, my phone rings. "We're just calling to find out if you'll be attending your interview as it was scheduled to begin 20 minutes ago."
In the blink of an eye, my daughter's life in school flashed before my eyes. The application I had spent weeks revising, the family picture I so carefully scrutinized over, the "early decision" box I so eagerly checked, her outfit I so carefully chose… all completely gone, just like that. My daughter wouldn't be getting into preschool all because I wrote down the wrong time.
I began to push the stroller so fast, I swear it lifted off the ground. Every corner of slush we hit, we flew right across. Every wind gust that soared, something flew right out of the stroller. By the time we had reached the school, I had lost a cup of cheerios, an Elmo doll, a pair of pink mittens, and most of my mind. Luckily, my daughter hadn't noticed as she was still fast asleep. I quickly scooped her out of the stroller, ran into the lobby as her head bobbed up and down, and made my way to the interview site. My daughter's eyes were at half mast when I stumbled into the classroom and plopped her on the floor.
To my surprise, she opened her eyes, stood in the middle of the classroom -- hair filled with frost, nose as red as the 12 lights we ran through, snow flakes melting into a puddle forming below her -- and smiled. Not just any smile, I'm talking an-all-teeth-flashing, nose-scrunching, ear-to-ear, heart-melting grin. And in that very moment, I forgot about where we were and how we got there. I had been minutes away from being swallowed whole by the Manhattan preschool rage, and suddenly I was brought right back down to earth. Just like that.
With that smile, I was in awe of the little girl who stood before my eyes and showed the world her precious, unscathed happiness. If a school wanted to watch the way she stacked blocks or the direction by which she turned pages of a book, so be it. If they were interested in how many words she spoke or the manner by which she shared with other kids, let her show 'em. In that moment, all I wanted to do was capture her smile, seal it in a glass jar, and tuck it into her pocket for her to pull out during every interview, every first day of school, every spelling quiz, every college application, and every scary moment of uncertainty throughout her life.
Fast forward one month and we receive a letter inviting us to a second round of interviews along with a personality analysis. I drop the letter in the trash, check the status of the current nor'easter, and we head off to the playground.