Nicholas needs to go to preschool. He’s extremely precocious and determined that it’s his turn right now. He puts on Julianna’s shoes, shoulders her purse, and says, “I’m going to ‘chool now. I will see you on Wednesday.”
To keep the expense and inconvenience factor low, we planned to send him to the early childhood special ed center in our neighborhood as a peer mentor next year. A peer mentor is a typically-developing child who models appropriate behavior and skills for the kids with special needs. We had Alex screened when he was four, but eventually decided his entire toddlerhood had revolved around Julianna, and he needed something just for him. That’s not the case with Nicholas, so I called up the school district a while back to schedule the “DIAL” screening. And this week, we went. I came out with my ears smoking.
One: not family friendly.
The cover letter for the paperwork (which I didn’t get till I got there) included this: Please bring only the child to be evaluated, in order to avoid distraction. I understand that, but what are my options? Hire a babysitter? I don’t think so! This is the next in a long line of un-family-friendly policies that smack me in the face on a daily basis…such as the concert that would have made me buy a ticket for my three week old baby. If you want people to bring up a new generation of concert goers, don’t make it so hard for them to come!
But I digress.
Two: the paperwork annoyance.
On the phone I was told I had to fill out “a couple of pages.” Which means four.
Three: none of your business.
As part of the health form, I had to tell the school district whether he rides in a car seat and whether he wears a helmet while riding a bike. While I appreciate the safety concerns (of course he rides in a car seat. Duh, it’s the law!), the answers to those questions have no bearing on the school district. It is simply none of their business. This is part of that “mission creep,” for lack of a better word, that makes medical professionals try to be developmental experts (i.e. the questions they ask at well child visits. I know I’m in the minority in this, but eh bien, that’s my opinion).
Four: not family friendly, part two
On the forms, I was required to provide names and birth dates for all other children living in the household. They left me two blanks. Imagine me hissing with (overdone, I admit it) righteous anger as I had to write Michael in the blank space beneath.
Five: the guilt complex
When it was all over, Nicholas scored in the 60th and 80th percentile on cognition and communication, but only the high 40s on physical skills. Which makes him marginal for acceptance into Title 1 preschool. Because…are you ready? He can’t cut with a scissors, and he can’t hop on one leg. I thought, Are you KIDDING me? Give this kid a scissors and he’ll learn to use it in three minutes. After he shreds my couch.
Six: the bait and switch
And after all this annoyance, it turns out that they “generally don’t accept peer mentors until age four.” I wanted to say, “Well, sure, that makes sense, but don’t you think somebody could have told me that BEFORE I waited six weeks till you decided he was old enough to make the appointment, and BEFORE we waited three more weeks for the appointment, and BEFORE we spent an hour and a half that we could have all spent doing more productive things?”
Seven: the up side
But at least now I’m looking for other preschool opportunities for him. And those are opportunities that may be better in the long run, anyway.
Have a great weekend!