Kindergarten has taken over my life.

In Cambridge, if your kid turns 4 by March 31, he’s eligible for two years of Kindergarten (Junior K and K) and Aidan turns 4 in Feb, so we’re in for fall. Which means starting in Sept we get to stop paying way too much for preschool and Aidan gets to attend one of the many fine schools in the awesome Cambridge public school system.

The crazy thing about this town is you don’t just get sent to your local school like we did back in the day. It’s a lottery system based on what they call “controlled choice,” which means you tour a bunch of schools, pick your top three and then there’s a lottery to see where you end up. The aim is diversity or some such thing and I guess some choice is better than no choice, but it’s also a serious headache, especially for those of us who can’t make a decision for shit.

The good news is all the schools we’ve seen have been pretty great. When we toured the very first one, King Open, Harlan kept looking around, a goofy grin on his face, as if he’d just landed in Oz, saying, “This is free? My God, all this is free?”

Of the seven schools we’ve toured, I’d say we loved two, really liked two, and the other three were perfectly fine. There wasn’t a single one that sucked. And as I’ve spoken with parents on mommy lists, I’ve learned that people love even the schools we didn’t tour because no one we know sends their kids there.

So, we can’t go wrong. So, get on with it, right?

Anyone who knows me knows that is not going to be the case. Instead, I will agonize, I will get sick (there’s a kleenex permanently affixed to my nose) I will not sleep. Especially anything concerning my kid is likely to turn me into a total freak. (See: b’day cake post.)

The application is due on January 31. We still can’t decide. I took Ambien last night to silence the permachatter.

Here’s the story:

That first school, King Open, totally dazzled us from the start. BUT it has its drawbacks: It’s kind of far (we timed it at 12 minutes this morning, which isn’t that bad, but twice a day in rain, sleet and snow, it could be better). It’s also a huge, urban school that goes from K through middle school, which makes me kind of nervous when I think about my little angel there. Plus it’s scheduled to undergo a massive renovation in a couple years which would mean moving to a different building.

Still, the school is awesome, so part of me just thinks, put it as my first school! No duh!

The problem is there’s this other school. I felt ho hum about it both times I went to visit. It’s cute, it’s little, it’s fine. BUT it has many advantages: It is one of our “proximity schools,” which is nice for a couple reasons. For one, they encourage you to choose your local school and give you this big boost in points for doing so, so we have a better chance of getting into it. It’s one of the most popular and most competitive schools to get into, so that’s a big deal. (Why does everyone love it but us?) The other nice thing about choosing a proximity school is it’s a proximity school! It’s about a three minute drive from our house and in good weather we could even walk there.

Ultimately I want to do what’s best for Aidan, but in this case, I honestly don’t know which is: fine, cute, little and close to home or scrappy and dynamic and dazzling?

I’ve been losing sleep.

I started this post before I had the conversation I had a couple hours ago with my friend Leslie. She heard what I just said above and said there’s no debate: Put the local school first. Our lives will be so much easier at a closer school, a smaller school, a school where his friends will live in the neighborhood and, anyway, he won’t know the difference between an average, sweet school and one that his mom would really like to go to.

I didn’t even say, “but, but, but…” because as much as I love the other school, as wowed as I was by its arty, cool classrooms and passionate parents, I’d pretty much reached the same conclusion. At that point, the debate raging in my head was more about whether I was compromising somehow in making that decision. As a parent who drives over an hour a day and spends more than she can afford to send her kids to the schools she just had to send them to, Leslie says if she could do it over, she’d send them to her local school in a heartbeat. She says they would be just as happy, if not happier, because they could ride their bikes to school and walk over to their friends’ houses since they’d all live in the ‘hood.

That all sounded so logical and obvious, that when I got off the phone with her I was sold.

But then I started reading through the brochures again, looking at the pictures, remembering how much I loved King Open and wondering if I shouldn’t just choose with my heart.

How would I feel if we were assigned to King Open? Totally excited, a little bit scared. How would I feel if we were assigned to our local? Not as excited, but in a way relieved because I’d know my life would be a little bit easier.

So basically I still have no clue. And I can’t wait for Harlan to get home so I can crack open a bottle of wine. (Doesn’t seem quite legal at 5 without him.)

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