I always thought having money would mean not waiting in line. I assumed we would use our money to spend our time doing things we love, like accusing our housecleaners of stealing stuff. Yet while the rest of the U.S. speeds through fast-food drive-throughs, we wait outside expensive restaurants hoping for a table. We line up in front of the Apple store for the newest iPhone and stand in the snow at Sundance to get tickets for films that aren't good enough to make it to movie theaters.
There are plenty of preschools in Los Angeles. Most of them accept all children who apply. I have no idea what those schools are called. I do know the names of all the preschools that reject most of their applicants, because my lovely wife Cassandra went on guided tours of 18 of them. This is the same person who, back in high school, visited three colleges.
I went on some of the tours too. I learned there are many styles of education for 2-year-olds, including Montessori (modeled on military punishment, in which kids transport beans from one pile to another, left to right only), Waldorf (teachers observe while kids put 18th century wooden toys in their mouths), Reggio-Emilia (kids decide what project to do, which is yelling) and RIE (kids hit one another, and then "educarers" tell them they respect their decisions to hit). The school administrators were clearly nervous about charging $15,000 a year for these programs, because they all described blocks as "pedagogical tools."
We also took our son Laszlo to five different 10-week Parent and Me classes at four different schools, at $400 apiece, to impress the schools with our interest. I spent Saturdays sitting on a tiny chair trying to look involved and shaking a tambourine and dancing around in a circle while Laszlo refused to move, staring at me with utter disrespect. I'm pretty sure he will now never listen to any advice I give him for the rest of his life.
All the applications contained the following two sections, one idiotic and one brilliant. "Describe your child's personality" was the idiotic one. Laszlo was 1 year old. You quickly get down to "sleepy," "short attention span" and "not particularly concerned about cleanliness, e.g., sits for long periods of time in his own excrement." The brilliant one was "What's your word use for bowel movement and urination?" This should be asked at every job interview, first date and presidential debate. You'd know everything you needed to about someone by the answer to this question. I will offer 10-to-1 odds that Michele Bachmann uses poopy and pee-pee and that Ron Paul uses bowel movement and urination.
Things got unpleasant in our house when Laszlo was rejected from a prestigious school called Wagon Wheel. Though Laszlo took it well, Cassandra did not. One week earlier, Cassandra's grandmother, with whom she was very close, had died. She did not cry. The Wagon Wheel rejection, however, led to the Fountain of Cassandra.
This reaction was surprising, since we did not actually want Laszlo to go to Wagon Wheel. It was our third choice. "I wanted them to experience rejection for once," Cassandra said. "It's like a bad teen movie where I'd get the popular girl to take me into her clique and then tell her, 'I don't want to be in your clique.'" I worry about what she'll project onto Laszlo when he starts to date.