Does your toddler have what it takes?

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.

About Joanne


  1. At times like this, everyone needs to relax and listen to a little John Forster:

  2. Apparently, I wanted to be a lion tamer when I was a preschooler.

    My oldest DD wanted to play baseball for the Red Sox.

    My DS wanted to be a chef.

  3. Mark Roulo says:


    Did you have a hat?

    Relevant bit is about 2 minutes in …

  4. So far my sons have expressed interest in growing up to be pilots, dogs, firefighters, Superman, truck drivers, Superman’s friend, bus drivers, The Cat in the Hat, spacemen, pool cleaners, race car drivers, and sharks. I’ll mention alligators to them and see what they think.

  5. MR- that’s hilarious! My actual profession before I became a SAHM was, sadly, more in the vein of accountant than lion tamer….

  6. Haha! Just caught up with this post and have to add the wish list of my niece and nephew to the mix. Critical thinkers that they were in their early years:

    Niece wanted to be a waitress when she grew up because,
    she could then be around all of the kind food she preferred to eat.
    Nephew wanted to be a taxi cab driver because in this way he could drive anywhere he wanted in the whole world.

    My sister cringed. We all chuckled. The kids did have solid reasons.
    Niece is currently pursuing a degree in the culinary arts and nephew has yet to graduate high school. Perhaps he will pursue aviation.