Dispatches From the Abject Cluelessness Department

Last night I ran into my neighbor, whose grade-school son goes to a so-called top-tier school nearby. She’s a nice enough woman and a friendly neighbor, and I like chatting with her. She asked about the preschool process for us.

“We got into school B! We were kind of favoring school A but we got waitlisted so…eh. I’m very happy. It’s a wonderful place and I really liked the director.”

“OH, school A. That is a WONDERFUL school.”

“Yes, yes it is. But we didn’t get in.”

“You know we weren’t going to go to preschool at all when my son was two. But then you know, school A called US. Isn’t that amazing?”

“Wait…they just bypassed their waitlist of like 100 kids and called you?”

“I guess so. They BEGGED us to go. BEGGED us. I don’t even know who recommended us but I spent ages on the phone with the director until we finally agreed to go. Isn’t she the best?”

“I liked her, yes…but we’re not going to school A. We’re going to school B.”

“School A was just the best experience of a lifetime. We can’t say enough wonderful things about it. Wow, too bad we didn’t know you were applying there. They absolutely LOVED my son. But don’t worry, I know school B will be great too.”

“Um, thanks.”

This morning, slipped under my door…a copy of a two-page thank you note written to director of school A after her son graduated kindergarten, gushing about how instrumental the experience had been in her child’s life, how fabulous each and every teacher was, how “the magical light that emanates from school A will forever shine in us.”

Oy. New York.


47 thoughts on “Dispatches From the Abject Cluelessness Department”

  1. Wait…what? Did you even need to be there for that conversation she was having with herself? Yegads. Then again, my gf just told me they are paying $15,000 a year to send their son to preschool, which is a bargain compared to the $30,000 they’re “contributing” to her education. And guess where they live? I DO love NYC, I do, I do, but I have to say I’m glad I moved before reproducing!

  2. yes… but in the fleeting memory of the actual CHILD, I’m sure all HE remembers is the juice and the color of the carpet. Whoa BOY that was entertaining!

  3. wait, she left you a copy of her thank you note to the school ? WTF ? what exactly does she think you are going to do with it ? frame it ? shrine it ??

  4. no, wait, she still HAD a copy of the thank you note to begin with? WHAT? Why??I have to say that this blog post reinforces my stereotypes of those that live in NYC.

  5. I just realized that if it was on her computer she would still have it. I forgot about that. Here in the midwest we actually still hand-write thank you notes. Old-fashioned, yes. But I guess we have more time since we’re not obsessing over preschools for years before conceiving.

  6. Well in defense of New York Kate (I know, I’m playing both sides!) if we were <>all<> like this, I wouldn’t find the entire situation quite so bizarre. PS I handwrote my thank you notes. Feener: I like your ideas. Shrining seems just perfect.

  7. If you are at BlogHer this year, remind me to tell you about why I didn’t get accepted to St. Anne’s preschool in Brooklyn when I was 4.This type of NY competition about schools is as old as dirt. Well, as old as me at least. I’ve had a long day so today I feel as old as dirt.

  8. Oh good lord…that’s just crazy. I would have to say that she’s a big huge liar (why would they call her and beg?), and that unless her child has found a cure for cancer already, the school ain’t actually all that AND a bag of chips.And my daughter was wait listed for our 1st pick school, and got in at the almost last minute, like we got the call a week before school started. The difference was that 1st pick was a public (read FREE) Montessori elementary school, and the other option was a standard public elementary school, also free, also a very good school. And this reminds me of a parenting seminar I attended a few weeks ago, when they were talking about raising HAPPY children. One thing they mentioned was that what school your child gets into (they were talking about college, but the same thing goes for preschools, elementary schoos, etc.) is just a short term part of their life, whereas raising independent, smart children who can think for themselves is a long term part of their life, and kids who are micromanaged and put into 18 different activities where there are always teachers and coaches directing their thoughts and actions, hampers their ability to become free thinking, problem solving, imaginative adults. I’m not saying that preschool A isn’t awesome, and that Thalia’s life would be ruined if she went there. But your neighbor sounds like a fruitcake who is fast on the track to becoming one of those hovering uber mommys.Sorry, that was quite a novel, wasn’t it? 🙂 Congrats on getting into what I am sure is an excellent school, even if it won’t cause the sun to shine out of Thalia’s ass, as I’m sure your neighbor’s son has.

  9. Ugh…your neighbor can take her “magical light” and shove it up her ass. How fucking annoying is that woman?

  10. Well, if that didn’t make you feel like you dodged a bullet by being waitlisted at A, uh, well,<> it should<>. Boy, I sure ran out of steam with that sentence. You know, it was meant to imply that you should be dancing with joy that maybe *those* parents are all concentrated at school A while the normal parents are at school B. I’d avoid school A at all costs after that.

  11. And that is an example of what happens when a competimommy gets way too friggin’ caught up in this preschool rush business and loses her mind. God forbid when her son tries to pledge a fraternity. “They practically knocked down his door to haze him!”

  12. A few counterexamples that may lift your spirits:1. My sister didn’t get into the uber cool school either. They told my mother that sis wasn’t that bright. Today, she’s a surgeon.2. My mom knew not to even bother trying to get me into the snooty school (I’m the dim-witted one). I went to old fashioned public school and rounded out my formal education with a Wharton MBA. Even got a scholarship to boot.Not bad for a couple of kids who weren’t “that bright”.

  13. Um, competitive much, lady? What in the what did she hope to accomplish by that, and who in the who is she trying to impress and for what purpose? She must be jealous of your smarts and good looks or something.

  14. Today at preschool Brynn pooped in her pants twice and peed in her pants once. I am so very thankful she is doing so well in her fancy preschool.

  15. Of course not everyone in NY is like her. If you were like her I wouldn’t read your blog at all, let alone like it so much. :o) Stereotypes are interesting, though. Like how you automatically assumed that ‘Kate’ of Will & Kate was writing…I agree with the previous poster though. That lady has to be lying about school A ‘begging’ her to send her son there. Yeah right.

  16. <> I don’t even know who recommended us but I spent ages on the phone with the director until we finally agreed to go. Isn’t she the best?<>Can we have that be one of the squares on Competimommy Bingo?

  17. Pretty much like how snotty mom in my son’s preschool today called the place “a dump” and said she would be going to Chicago’s version of “School A” next year. Makes you feel so good!

  18. I don’t think I could have refrained from blasting her, especially after “sharing” her thank you note with you. But if that is how she has to live her life, then I feel a bit sorry for her. She is still a whack job, but a sorry one at that!

  19. <>Wow, too bad we didn’t know you were applying there.<>This would have made a difference whether or not Thalia would have got in or on the waitlist? Somehow I remain skeptical. Your self-restraint is phenomenal. Takes all kinds to make a world, thank goodness. Congrats on getting in one of your preferred programs.

  20. thank god her kid got into school A, because he sure as shit is not going to learn anything of any use at *home.*

  21. I can’t stand that quality in certain people. There is no excuse for such self-absorption.If it makes you feel any better, it’s often the case that the “best” school is really only best at fawning over kids in front of their parents. Easily duped parents wanting to believe their child is a prodigy in the making are quick to credit the school when really all the school does for them is satiate Mom and Dad’s egos.I always said that if I were to ever direct my own private school, each teacher would be required to pick three sets of parents to call home to each week and rave about the progress the kid was making. Within a few years, we would surely make the next local best list.

  22. Yes, I’m sure her son learned how to nap, pick his nose and say the alphabet better than any other preschooler in the nation. Woohoo for School A!She’s probably just trying to justify spending $20k a year on a preschool.

  23. My mouth was gaping in horror reading this, and I hadn’t even gotten to the end yet. Ballsy!

  24. Man…I just hope your neighbor reads your blog and realizes how badly she behaved! I’m completely without words for such rude behavior!

  25. If only you had mentioned to that woman that you didn’t get in to Preschool A. OMG.I had my heart set on preschool A in my neighborhood (because they had beautiful lighting and gorgeous hardware floors – nothing rational about my passion for this school. I think I really just wanted to live there). We did not get in. Turns out Preschool B rocks.

  26. Yup, that just about does it for me. I’m never moving to NY. Of course there are some schools people find better than others but I believe those are COLLEGES. And even still, that neighbor is such a self-absorbed biotch!

  27. Trust me: she’s not telling the truth. As in “intent to deceive.” As in lying.

  28. Interesting neighbour. She would just be the hit here – in our parent participation schools (co-op). I would make sure my daughter was sick the day she was there!I admire your restraint as well. Up here, in the other corner of the world – as in Canada – as in West Coast – as in on an Island….have *those* neighbours as well.We just tell them off – that’s all.

  29. I’d love to take credit for “restraint” Meesh, but I’m afraid it was just slack-jawed shock I was exhibiting.My presence was definitely incidental to the conversation.

  30. Oh Dear Lord! People like that are so tiring. So unaware of the people around them. So determined that you should know how very, very special they are. Not to mention their precious children. And their specialness as well. How you were able to keep a straight face is a testament to your character. I salute you.

  31. Magical light? Do they send flying unicorns to pick up the students and wing them to school over a rainbow? Are there lemon drops on the chimney tops? Are the teachers all Mary Poppins clones? And more importantly, how did you not say something unretractably rude in response? Are there bootprints on your tongue?

  32. I’m always terrified that I’m going to turn into that parent. It’s not that they think the world revolves around their kid; that attributes too much deliberate cognition to them.It’s that they see the world as shaded in one color, Relevant-to-my-child Magenta, and the people, places, and things in it are all, to some extent colored the same way. Since they are already living in a world that is organized into things that are relevant to their kids (and there is nothing that is irrelevant to their kids, to them), when they happen upon another parent who makes the gross error of engaging them about something that is a deeper shade of Relevant-to-my-child Magenta (preschool choices) than most other things (street signs, Cambodia, whatever is on Cinemax after midnight) it is as if they are struck color blind. All they can see is Magenta, in blinding brilliance.It’s so bright that its glare hides the pained look on your face as they wander around in Magenta-conversation-land.I worry that my world is turning Magenta, and that people are going to start actually dressing in magenta so I can’t see them against the buildings.

  33. Good lord.You can take comfort in the fact that the kid will grow up to be at least as much of a douchebag as she is.

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