It’ll come as no surprise that I did not grow up in the gorgeous country town in which I live now.
Or it might come as a surprise to everyone who doesn’t live here – but anyone who does will know I am not a local.
Mostly because it really is one of those places where you will never be local unless you were born here. I will always be the “teacher’s daughter from Canberra.”
I’m ok with that, most of the time.
I am not OK with that when it takes me a billion years to learn what everyone else just accepts around here.
Like that there is only one local public preschool.
It’s on the other side of town and recent weeks (with the lead up to the decision of where to send Roo to preschool) have seen me cursing the skies for choosing a house on the opposite side of the main street, at the wrong end of the hill (read: wrong = down one hill and then up another, then down and up again to get home).
Especially seeing as getting off my L’s and onto my provisional license has proved elusive
for the past 8 years in the past…
And after putting it off for weeks, I decided that today I would do the rounds and suss out all the preschools. Via phone.
My theory is that I can tell how awesome a preschool it is by how exhausted/bored/chirpy/deliriously happy/hostile the person answering the phone is.
Exhausted is probably good – exhausted implies that a day spent with 20+ 4 year olds is particularly tiring. Which I find totally understandable.
Bored is probably not so good, yet won’t turn me off immediately.
Chirpy implies either youth and/or inexperience, or a rather strict naptime regiment.
Deliriously happy concerns me – either the kids are all chained up out the back or the carers are drunk. The type of people I’d love to be friends with, but not so much caring for my child 2-3 days per week.
Hostile is the worst – I don’t want to send my child somewhere for her to be yelled at, ignored or spoken to sarcastically. That’s what she has me for.
So I ring the one and only preschool in town. Here’s how it went:
“Hi, my name is Daisy and I wanted to enquire about sending my daughter to preschool with you next year.”
“I was wondering if you have any places?”
“Um, ok. When does enrollment close?”
“We are taking enrollments now. Can I ask you a few questions?”
“Of course. Hang on, could you give me a minute, I have to wipe my daughter’s bottom.”
(Elevator music. And by elevator music I mean the sound of flushing toilet.)
“Ok, I’m ready.”
“OK, what is your daughter’s name?”
“Rory. R-O-R-Y. …”
“And what her birthdate?”
“And what is your name?”
“Yep, Daisy, like the flower.”
“Rory like the flower too Mummy!”
“Yes, darling, Rory like the flower as well.”
The conversation continues as I give the efficent woman on the other end of the line my details.
And then she says:
“So she will be turning 4 in December, so she will probably go on a Tuesday or Wednesday with the under 4′s. We have a few groups, the 3′s, the under 4′s, the over 4′s and the 5′s”
“Oh, can’t she go both days?”
“Only if we have enough places, but we are currently doing enrollments now and it looks to be a busy year.”
“Oh, well can you just mark that we’d like two days if possible?”
“Yes, but it is entirely dependant on availability.”
I only take issue with this last bit of our conversation.
First of all – there is a 3 year old preschool in town?? Since when? If I had known she probably would have been going there one day a week rather than me forking out for the long daycare for the past 6 months! (EDIT: I’ve since been informed that had I known it would not matter, nor saved my stingy ass any money. Even 3yo Preschool is booked out).
Second of all – only one day a week for preschool, the year before she goes to big school? How is one day a week meant to prepare a child for a full 5 day week? Thinking about it, most of the preschool aged children I have known in town have only gone one day – so I’m not entirely sure why I expected two.
And finally – how many people in this town popped out a baby in 2008/2009? Seriously! You all should have kept your legs shut!
So I looked around. In the phone book. And saw a few preschool options in towns close by. So I called one that ha already been recommended to me. I rang. The woman was efficient. Happy, but not chirpy nor delirious. Informative. And patient with all my questions.
She’s even sent me out an information pack and invited me to “drop in” at ANY TIME.
Which suggests to me her efficiency and pleasantness is not due to general drunkenness nor to tying the children up in the back room.