17 Mar

The Big Envelope

Did you see the news? I think it appeared briefly on the ABC crawl in Times Square, but it may not have been covered by your local affiliate depending on where their priorities lie (lay?) as regards kindergarten admissions for some random family in Oakland. Besides, does anyone watch t.v. news anymore? I mean beside me watching the first five usually horrifying minutes that record onto the end of my horrifying-in-its-own-right not-so-secret shame The Bachelor? That’s what I thought.

If you didn’t see it elsewhere, the news is this:

Screen shot 2014-03-17 at 12.52.05 PM

In addition to getting into our top choice public school (woo hoo!), Wombat also got an acceptance and a sweet financial aid package (praise jeebus) at Private School B and was wait-listed as a “qualified applicant” in excess of “available spots” at Private School A. (I think of them as B and A instead of A and B because that’s the order we toured them.) I’m over the moon to be in this position, even though this is one of the scenarios we were dreading as far as decision-making and putting-a-price-on-your-kid’s-education is concerned. Private School B is still a much better fit than Public School C, but we have to decide if it’s a better fit commensurate with the amount of money it will cost us (and that’s not counting aftercare and summer camp and all that jazz). It’s affordable, but it’s also money we could use for a thousand other important (and some unimportant) things, so, yeah, DECISIONS. Right now, the prevailing factor is the 1:9 teacher-student ratio and less likelihood that my kid will be set up in the corner with a stack of worksheets while the rest of the class learns together (this is a real thing happening to a kindergartener in Public School C this year), and let’s also not underestimate the fact that I kind of want to be best friends with the admission director of Private School B because she’s so nice and cool. “Dear Wombat: We chose this school for you because your mom thought the admissions director was neat and wore cute scarves.”

Simon is still burning a candle for Private School A, and some random stranger Wombat befriended at the park who used to work for the Oakland district said, “Have you thought of sending him to Private School A? You should try to get him into Private School A,” so that’s two strong votes for School A, plus my little-bit-less-strong vote because my ego’s feeling a little huffy, like we should obviously run directly into the arms of the school who wants us instead of the school that B-listed us, right? (No, I will NOT accept your final rose after you tried to give it to someone else first!) (Oh dear.)

In order to spare you my pro/con list, let me just say I’m HAPPY and this feels GOOD. All of the research and effort and sleeplessness and second-guessing and criticism has gotten us to a place where we’re excited and relieved and ready to just get going with it already. (One of the items in the “pro” column for Private School B is that it goes beyond 5th grade, which means we won’t have to do this whole thing all over again in six years. Except, shit, we might have to do it for Fox sooner than that. Whose idea was it to have a second kid? Oh, right.) For now, we have to make a decision between Private School B and Public School C by Friday, but we still won’t have a definitive plan until we hear back from Private School A on the wait-list situation, which could be as early as next Monday or as late as AUGUST. So it’s another game of hurry up and wait. But man, after the last three months of waiting, you won’t hear me complain. How nice to be waiting with a calm and happy brain instead of one that’s nervously pacing a groove into its skull.

And speaking of nervously pacing a groove, I was dumb not to have seen it coming, but apparently I can’t go on Twitter to talk about Private Schools A and B and Public School C and how they specifically relate to Kid W without ruffling a contingent of people who are ready (and…eager?) to think I’m making a statement about All Private Schools and All Public Schools and All Children (i.e., their children), even though I’m pretty much the last person on earth who will publicly engage on any topic about which I don’t consider myself an expert and I’m even less likely to ever presume to judge any other family’s decision of this nature. (See also why this blog will always be a personal blog: because I’m the foremost leading expert on one thing and that is myself.) If you caught any of that and thought I seemed a little uncharacteristically out of touch with what it looks like to being a decent human being who has some idea of how the world works (at least I hope it seemed uncharacteristic!), please know that I was talking about three very specific schools and one very specific student the whole time and was oblivious to the misunderstanding that was happening right under my nose until a few nice people were kind enough to point out that wires were getting crossed and feelings might be getting hurt. I honestly had no idea that was happening. Let’s all seek out the best schools for our own kids and then be happy when everything works out for each other, okay? Okay.

Note to self: What you write will not always be what people read, so type with caution.

But I don’t really want to talk about that (skull groove!), so let’s not. Instead, I’m going to wear a groove into the floor from so much happy dancing over getting a Big Envelope from a place I already really love.

By    15 Comments    Posted in: Photos, Regular Entries


  • Go to the Waldorf school – one of them was a Waldorf school right?

    • Haaaa. I think Wombat already has too many vaccinations to go to the Waldorf school. :)

      • I might love you for saying that :)

  • I have been reading your blog with such interest because we are in Oakland and in the same process. I was just silently reading along until today when I had to comment. That acceptance letter looks super familiar- we are enrolling in private school B for kindergarten next year! It is our first choice and boy am I excited! Holler if you want to chat about the decision- I’m happy to discuss since this has been such a ridiculously preoccupying obsession for a while! Anyways, I agree you do what’s best for your kid, and no one knows him better than his parents. Good luck with the (all excellent) choices.

    • Does the admissions director at your school wear great scarfs and seem like she’d be fun to hang out with? If so, it’s definitely the same place! (I really, really love the feel of that school.)

  • WOOHOO! Yay for Wombat and all of you! So happy that everything worked out!

    • Thank you! We’re excited!

  • Happy dance indeed! I wish more decisions in life were a choice between all good options!

    • Right?! We’re so, so lucky.

  • Yaaaaay!!!

    That last bit resonated with me, only because I know that every town/area/situation is different.

    (I’m pretty sure that there are regional differences when it comes to Zombies.)


    There are people who look to stir up controversy where there isn’t any.

    We live a vastly different life when it comes to school choices, and it involves zero stress, but I’m so happy that you guys made your way through the options and have great! choices.


  • I was impressed at how you responded to the concerns on Twitter. You explained so well where you were coming from when I would have turned into a blubbering idiot shouting defensive gibberish at everyone. (Also, for the record, I didn’t have concerns about the original tweets, either, because I KNEW where you were coming from.)

  • Thank you for saying this. I don’t know that I’d agree because I wasn’t actually responding to people’s concerns (because we were talking about two different things), but it is nice to hear that I wasn’t the only one who understood what I was talking about. :)


    Happy decision making. =) Hopefully A will come thru for you too and then you get to have ALLLLLLLLL the power. =)

  • Hoorah and congratulations! As a British Early Years teacher, this has been fascinating reading for me. It all seems very different. I would not hesitate to send my children to most state schools here. The private schools are full of unqualified teachers or those who could not handle being in the state system ( by which I mean they are crap) Parents are paying purely to avoid their children to making friends with those they deem “unsuitable” which I find distressing. I can only imagine how stressful it must be to feel you have to fight for the right education for your child

    Not that our system is perfect. Far from it. We start formal schooling too early (at 4 years old) and are in grave danger of stifling a love of learning and creativity by teaching to the test. This year all my 4/5 year olds are expected to be writing in full sentences using long vowel phonemes, counting in 2s, 5s & 10s, solving problems with doubling and halving etc. Most will get there, but is so unfair that those who need more time to build the basic skills will be labelled failures at such a young age. Rage inducing.

    Sorry …. total tangent there. I should have just stopped at hooray!

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