So after I posted the news about Robin having a playdate this weekend, he got two more invitations—one from our friend Amy (hi Amy!) whose lovely daughter Elena is also a Thomas fan, so we’re going to get them together to play with some trains. And then I got a call from another mom at the park, whose daughter Mariel is a bit younger than Robin, but plays well with him. The funny thing is she’d actually told us about Owen before we met him: “You know there’s another family that lives across the street from me,” she said, “and they have a boy just about Robin’s age…” And apparently she’d called Owen’s dad to set up a playdate with him and Mariel on Sunday, but of course Owen already has a playdate with Robin, soooo (said Mariel’s mom) why don’t we all just come over to her house?

So now the Sunday Playdate has become something epic—it’ll be six adults and six kids (as Mariel, Owen, and Robin each have younger siblings) and I must admit I’m starting to stress out about it now. I mean, the “playdate” is such a weird concept anyway, because not only do the kids have to get along, but the adults have to like each other. Owen’s parents and Mariel’s parents already get along, so I kind of can’t help but view the whole thing as a sort of audition for Sam and myself. If we do well, Robin gets to have friends and Sam and I will have some new connections in the neighborhood. If we do poorly, we’ll never be invited back and Robin will be alone and friendless and eventually grow up to the be the Unabomber. Or something like that. I think I’ll bring zucchini bread: zucchini bread is approachable and friendly and says, “hey, I share your values!” Right? Right.

Speaking of social anxiety, tonight they had an open house at the preschool where I really want to send Robin. It was packed. They obviously have many more applicants than they do open spaces, which is also the case at the other preschool we toured, but this is the one where I really, really want my kids to go. They do so many things right—mixed age groups, activities that kids can enter or leave at their own initiative, an emphasis on socialization and open-ended imaginative play…plus I just love the co-op model. It’s like homeschooling, but with friends! At the open house everyone was talking about what a tight-knit group it was (they do camping trips together!). And we actually already know a lot of the kids and parents because we see them at the park, and they’re a great bunch.

(There is something knocking around in the back of my head about class, and how co-op schools silently select for parents from a certain demographic—they are substantially cheaper than other preschools, but that’s because you’re required to work as a teacher one day a week, so it’s only an option for families with either flexible work schedules or an at-home parent. So while this preschool is made up of a diverse group of families from some points of view—there’s a nice spectrum of skin colors, and at least one same-sex couple—from another point of view they are all recognizably the same. Cute hairdos, sassy eyeglasses, jobs in tech, academia, or design…I would eat paste if any of them vote Republican.)

Anyway, they are very frank about screening for families that will be “a good fit” with their existing group. So I spent the evening trying very hard to ask the right questions, make the right jokes, and leave a good impression: to say, without saying it, pick me, pick me, I am one of you. And this is only the very beginning of the preschool admissions process: next up we have the guided tour, and then the written application, and then the “supervised playgroup,” and then if and only if we are given an “Admissions Invitation,” the three observation days “when you and your child will come so we can all play together and determine if we like you if Peter Pan is the right fit for you and your family.”

So basically, while ostensibly Robin is the one who needs socialization, it’s actually my social skills that are going to be scrutinized over the next few weeks. Wish me luck.

6 Responses to “Popularity”

  • Dom Says:

    Good luck – it sounds great!

    Should we send them character references for you? 😉

  • Amy K Says:

    I have a loose association with a moms’ group – you met most of them at E’s bday party – but I struggle with it because *I* am not that social. There’s only so much baby/child related chatter, in other words safe talk, that I can handle. They’re a nice bunch of women, educated, well-traveled, with several greencard holders,but cliques inevitably formed, first with the moms and now with the kids. Kid X no longer likes Kid Y, but Kid X’s mom and Kid Y’s mom still like each other. It’s a veritable minefield at times. I wish you luck with your upcoming Sunday ‘playdate.’ :blarf: < — for the term 'playdate.'. It can be very intimidating. I also wish you luck, doubly so, for Robin's school audition. Robin is a very sweet kid, which is a double-edge sword. I look forward to seeing you on Tuesday. Have trains! Will travel!

  • Maike Says:

    Great post 🙂

    Our Robin will be start kindergarten this August (!) and we’ve decided to try for our districts Parent Participation elementary school which means 2.5 hours per kid per week during the work day (David,a family friend and myself will each do one session per three weeks) and a lottery with a theoretical 80% chance of getting in.

    The progressive label and work requirement self-selects families in the manner you describe. In addition it also keeps these particular kids out of their local schools. On paper our downtown Mountain View schools should have decent api scores for economically advantaged kids but it doesn’t- and I’m convinced it’s because all these parents like me end up going either dual immersion or parent participation choice schools (or private).

    And as for playdates! It’s also a super loaded issue for me 🙂 I have this delusion that if I were stay-at-home I would spend my days doing crafts, classes and playdates and my kids would never have post preschool meltdowns. I’m very aware from my stay-at-home friends (who don’t get to read blogs during the day) that life doesn’t exactly work out that way. It’s funny though … even the word playdate makes me long to quit!

    On my block pretty much all small kid families are either dual income or single parent/single income and all conversations seem to end with ‘we should have a playdate’. They never ever ever happen 🙂

    • shannon Says:

      Our Robin will start kindergarten this August

      Oh my goodness, what a milestone!

      I must admit one of the reasons I hope we get into Peter Pan is that I’d like to know what the other parents are doing for elementary schooling. Our neighborhood public school, Maxwell Park Elementary, is just not an option (API below 700, chronically underfunded, no computers etc). We would consider charter schools, and I’m also still thinking about homeschooling for the early years. Actually another cool thing about Peter Pan is that they have 6yos there, which makes me think that some of the other families must be homeschooling as well.

Leave a Reply