April is the cruelest month for upper-class parents in New York City, writes Katie Roiphe in Slate. It’s the time for private school admissions. The Darwinian struggle starts with preschool.
My 18-month-old recently had his first school interview. Apparently he sailed through it, though how is somewhat mysterious to me. Especially since he calls all fruits “apples” and sentences such as “Mommy. Moon. Get it” are not necessarily indicative of a huge understanding of the workings of the universe. . . . I have been asked to write recommendations for other one-and-a-half-year-olds for this same lovely school, and have thought of, but did not actually write, “He knows a lot about trucks.”
Parents’ status depends on their children’s schools, she writes.
The most sought-after school in my neighbourhood, a famously open-minded and progressive and arty yet very exclusive private school, is conferring a kind of creativity on the parents . . . They are putting on operas when they are three years old, after all. They are illustrating Wallace Stevens poems by the time they are six. How could anyone accuse you of just being a banker, or a music executive, or an internet guy with good glasses?
A friend was pleased when her five-year-old, who attends the school, wrote for a class assignment that she wants to be an “artist” when she grows up. Then she discovered that all 22 children in the class had written “artist.”
. . . there were no “veterinarians”, no “circus acrobats”, no “doctors”, no “hair cutters”. Twenty two artists, and one kindergarten class: the school, you see, does not play around.
When my daughter was in preschool, one of her friends wanted to grow up to be an alligator. Another aspired to be a tap dancer and a chef. I do wish we’d kept in touch. I’d love to know what they’re doing now.