Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Everything I Need To Know I Probably Didn't Learn in Preschool

So I don't know if this kind of stuff makes it outside the New York city limits, but the big news yesterday was that a mother is suing her 4 year-old daughter's private preschool for letting her actually play instead of teaching her the kinds of things that will get her into Harvard.

Yes, really.

The lawsuit even says, in all seriousness, "... getting a child into the Ivy League starts in nursery school."

This makes me sad for mankind, obviously (although I don't know why this woman is freaking out; the kid's future college essay about her painful legal emancipation from her insane, controlling, overly litigious mother is sure to get her a spot somewhere). But more than that, it makes me wonder how I ever got into college, considering that I spent most of my nursery school years finger-painting and peeing in my long johns.

I mean... they couldn't even spell the school's name right, so what hope was there for me?
When I was four, my family moved to Texas and I matriculated to the Austin Waldorf School for two years of kindergarten (What can I say? I was advanced.) The Austin Waldorf School was opened in 1980, so when I arrived in the fall of 1984, it was still new, not having yet evolved beyond its stereotype as a granola-crunchy, touchy-feely haven for the children of hippies. My teacher was a big-boned woman who wore both her breasts and her braids long and loose. She favored grass-skimming prairie skirts and had a broad, kind face that never bore a hint of makeup. Our classroom, as I remember it, was shaped not unlike a prehistoric stone cave or Hobbit hole. Under the domed, earthen ceiling we sang songs and wove rough cornhusks and yarn into the sort of dolls Laura Ingalls Wilder might have received in her stocking on a particularly lean Christmas. The Waldorf Schools of America, founded by Rudolph Steiner, are based on the philosophy that each human being is a unique individual who passes through distinct life stages and that it is the responsibility of education to address the physical, social, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual needs of each developmental stage, but the main thing I remember is seeing this kid Jacob's penis when he came out of the bathroom once, unable or unwilling to pull up his pants. We also made candles. So there was that.

During my Waldorf years I also took to dressing like a wayward, dumpster-diving  Zappa child, and began what would become a life-long love affair with sweatpants.


Jesus. No wonder I was rejected from Yale.

I'm going to sue Waldorf for every corn husk they've got.
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28 comments :

  1. I'm loving the little kid in your class who just had to go to school on picture day in his superman pjs!!!

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  2. You can actually stay at Austin's Waldorf through High School now. My wife frightened me when she began talking about it as a possibility for our kids. Guess I have some reassurance that success is at the other end of the hippy trail.

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  3. Sister Zoe9:58 AM

    Notice the chocolate smeared around your mouth. I'm pretty sure I could do a whole post featuring numerous photos of you with chocolate on your face. I'm not saying I am any better, I just don't let people take my photo as much ;)

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  4. That is the most cockamamie thing I have ever heard. I didn't even GO to preschool. I stayed home. I sat in the sandbox all day and got engaged to one of the three other kids my mom babysat. We decided I'd go to college and then move back home and we'd both live with my parents. Clearly I had high aspirations. Preschool schmeeschool.

    That woman is tapped. That poor, poor never-going-to-be-enough child. I hope she never uses any wire hangers.

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  5. "My teacher was a big-boned woman who wore both her breasts and her braids long and loose." Epic. Thank you for making my Wednesday morning just a little brighter.

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  6. "I also took to dressing like a wayward, dumpster-diving Zappa child, and began what would become a life-long love affair with sweatpants."

    So funny! You were a cute kid.

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  7. I didn't go to preschool and my kid won't either, because it costs money and I can teach him how his ABCs and how to fingerpaint here at home much cheaper.

    Did you ever see the documentary Nursery University? I caught it a couple of years ago on cable and to say I was appalled would be an understatement. It follows a bunch of families applying to nursery school in NYC. They ALL take it as seriously as this litigious woman. They also pay more than my current household income for their children to attend these glorified daycares. Nutjobs, all of 'em!

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  8. Looks like Jeff in the striped shirt checking out the girly next to him! My 'pre-school' was I Love Lucy, I Dream Of Jeannie, Bewitched and McHale's Navy...why my mother let me watch that, I'll never know...all the while combing my doll's and troll's hair. I am now a hairdresser and still watch I Love Lucy...think it sticks. The spelling of mditown is hilarious! Great post as always...

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  9. Oh man... nursery schools that get kids into Harvard.... what an ingeniuous racket!

    I know how to solve the "education crisis." Sue the 99% of American parents whose children didn't get into Yale for creating underachieving children!

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  10. Some parents are definitely a little too competitive and over-the-top with educating preschoolers. I overheard a woman the other day discussing all of the classes that her THREE-year-old takes: music and dance, swimming, art, etc. At THREE. My three-year-old has "dance parties" with Mommy, plays with Play-Doh, and runs around in puddles. I think he'll turn out just fine.

    (I also had a similar traumatic experience with a boy in my Kindergarten/first grade class!)

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  11. This mom is crazy and she'll make her daughter crazy. It's not this kid's fault that her mother doesn't feel like she's enough, yet she'll pay the price.

    That said, you were ADORABLE! And who doesn't love sweatpants?!? Communists. That's who.

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  12. Marisa12:26 PM

    Just wanted to make mention that the kid to the far right in the pre-school photo seems to be in his pajamas. Awesome.

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  13. Thanks, guys! P.S. The kid in the Superman PJs is Salvador, my childhood BFF of "Look in Butt" fame.

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  14. I'm sure her kid won't get into any ivy league..she'll be too busy in therapy to fit in college!

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  15. That is insane. The poor child who has to live with that mother.

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  16. snort!

    And then there's the rest of the world.

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  17. Suing a preschool (unless it's some big name private school) is about as sensible as robbing a 10 year old's lemonade stand. You aren't going to get much out of it and in the end you're just going to look like a heartless idiot.

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  18. I read that news article the other day (yesterday, I think). So silly! Unfortunately people are really like that. They think your entire life can be ruined by a bad art project in preschool. It's crazy. When my kids were little, it was all the talk about where I would send to preschool, etc. It was like getintocollege pressure. Crazy stuff.

    You sounded like you had a pretty cool education. Any education you can get while wearing sweats is pretty good by me. ;-)
    -FringeGirl

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  19. I think it's fantastic that you chose the Superman kid to be best buds with and not the My Buddy look-a-like. What a cheese ball.

    The only things I remember from nursery school was being pissed that I cast as some form of foliage in the play, catching cooties (aka chicken pox) from the boy I was in love with, and spilling grape juice all over myself and having to wear *gasp* the school's spare, donated clothes. Which I think were sweats. Just saying.

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  20. "Look in Butt" is clearly adorable.
    My first guess is that the 4 year old in the news will be on a Greyhound to LA sometime in her teens. My second guess is that she will be the muse for whatever her generation's Gossip Girl show turns out to be.
    I hope for the Greyhound for her.

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  21. It makes me so sad when people don't want to let their kids just be kids. I hope when I spawn I don't get all crazy and feel like my kids have to start learning the second they pop out!

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  22. I might have dated one of those guys in '83. They look like my type. (Wait...was I in Texas in '83? Hell, I don't remember. I think I spent most of '83 in a drunken stupor until I ran off and married a guy who NEVER went to preschool because his parents were *gasp* poor! But he worked REALLY hard and had three jobs and PUT HIMSELF THROUGH NOTRE DAME and got a Chem Engineering degree and now he makes piles of money as a guy who invents $hit! *Well, not really $hit because that occurs in nature, but you know what I mean.*)
    So, preschool suing mommy--put that in your pipe and smoke it! (Oh wait. THAT was my 1983.)

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  23. I can't believe they spelled the school's name wrong. (and now I'm paranoid that I'm going to spell something in my comment incorrectly). Anyhoo, love the post. Parents are insane.

    And, @TB - I totally saw that Nursery University and I was sick about how crazy the parents were. It's insane!

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  24. Anonymous4:32 PM

    I'm just impressed that your preschool seemed to have multiple male teachers, I work in early childhood education and at the entire elementary school I work at there are a total of 3 men working there (and one is the gym teacher..) I remember having a discussion in a college teaching prep class about the cultural idea that if men work with kids they must be pedophiles or something, and it just reinforces the "women are the caregivers" idea.

    also, I'm loving all the overalls in that picture, now if only you could've had overall sweatpants...

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  25. Yes Sassy, that story made it all the way to the Left Coast on both the local and Western edition of the national news...that's right, we have our own "edition" of NBC Nightly News!

    That said, this woman goes into law history right next to the one who sued McDonalds over the too hot crotch coffee. I hope she gets her skinny arse thrown right out of court.

    As for you, your hippie pre-school start made you the witty and wise person that you are...the one which makes your posts and articles so readable and amusing. I can't go a day without you!

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  26. insane. i was going to argue that this mother ought to put more effort into her childs education/upbringing rather than expecting a glorified babysitter to do the job she herself won't do, but clearly mom doesn't have it all going on upstairs - making my argument futile.

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  27. Ah parents.....gotta love em... or not. I happen to teach preschool in Wisconsin, which is admittedly NOT New York. Play is how a child learns. It's the easiest and in my humble opinion the BEST way to teach them anything and everything! Oh, and pajama day is this Friday. Don't forget your fuzzy slippers!

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  28. People these days are suing for the stupidest reasons. When your 4 years old aren't you just suppose to have fun? If she really has a problem with it then she should be home schooling her child.

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