So, we got the letter: Sasha has a spot in a free pre-K program starting this fall! This puts us in a bit of a quandary—since we never thought she’d get in, we didn’t really figure out how we’d respond to an acceptance.
Let me back up a bit. Universal pre-K, for those of you blissfully unaware of the concept, is, in NYC, a bit of a misnomer. It’s a public program available to everyone (hence “universal”), although so limited in practice that most kids have little chance of being accepted, unless they’re willing to go to a school deemed “not so great” by the hordes of over-ambitious, over-protective, over-sensitive parents who populate the blogs of this great metropolis.
We applied, I think, to six schools, expecting to get rejected from our top choices: the bilingual Shuang Wen in the Lower East Side, for instance. And that’s just what happened, except that we put, as our last choice, the school that is only four blocks from our home in Brooklyn, P.S. 38. And that’s where we got in. Yay.
And so now what do we do? As much as I like the idea of FREE PRESCHOOL, it’s complicated to just say yes. For one, Sasha really likes her current preschool, the bilingual English-Chinese Preschool of America. We like it, too, particularly the fact that it runs from 8:30 in the morning till 6 p.m., allowing both me and Jean to work a full day. Will pre-K at P.S. 38 do the same? Not quite—the school day ends around 3, and we’re not too sure of the status of after-school programs for the pre-K kids. So we’d either need to cut our own workday short, or hire a daily babysitter/nanny, whose cost would totally negate the whole FREE PRESCHOOL benefit.
But then, of course, there’s the possibility that my or Jean’s work situation could change drastically at any moment, either freeing us up to spend afternoons with our precious snowflake or burying us deeper in office dilemmas or sending us packing for Taipei post-haste.
Why isn’t there some Web version of those mortgage calculators that could just let me enter in all the details and give me one single answer: Yay or Nay? In the end, I think we’ll register her for P.S. 38 and make our actual decision sometime in August, when my book is done, the second baby is imminent, and we have a better sense of our financial future. Blech. Hey, what do you think?