Guest Blogger Samantha: My Son Wasn’t Held Back…He Was Given A Chance To Move To The Front!

 

Redshirting For Kindergarten: A Popular Trend

I’m from Texas, and there, redshirting is a term used in football.  I had no idea what it meant concerning kindergarten, but I was soon to find out…

 

My son has a summer birthday.  I didn’t plan it that way, of course, that was up to the Gods.  In fact, he was born 9.5 weeks early, so he would have been almost an Autumn baby if things had worked out as they were supposed to, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.

 

Anyway, when it came time for kindergarten, my kiddo still seemed young.  Not chronologically, necessarily, but he was still carrying around his transitional object, read: lovey.  Need I say more?

 

It’s not that my boy couldn’t go to kindergarten — he’d met all the cut off dates, and he was ready intellectually.  It’s that he would probably be learning phonics from underneath a table or while somersaulting, because emotionally it was clear that he wasn’t ready.

 

Initially my husband wasn’t happy with the idea that he was being “held back”.  But, as I told him, and now share with you, I think that’s the wrong way to think about it.

 

See, my son wasn’t held back, he was given room to move to the front.

 

We gave my son a gift, which allowed him to have a little more time to mature and, as a consequence, gain self-confidence.  As one of the oldest boys in his class, he became a leader at his preschool; a child the other kids looked up to.   He was the cool, older guy.  Ya know, the one who’d moved past Star Wars and graduated to Harry Potter. That’s serious stuff at a preschool. It was truly wonderful to watch!

 

When kindergarten time came, my son was six and he was ready.  My boy felt good about himself and I knew I didn’t have to worry.  Juxtaposed to how unsure I was of his ability the year before, it was such a relief!

 

And, it goes without saying, my husband thinks it’s one of the greatest ideas he ever came up with (whose idea was it?), and both of us think it was one of the best decisions we ever made.

 

In the end I gave my son a better head on his shoulders as he starts his journey through school and into adulthood, and who can argue that isn’t a good thing?

 

Here’s a previous post on Redshirting from Perfectly Disheved. It includes the 60 Minutes story on the topic.
Samantha Goodman is the mom of a First Grader at Wildwood School and a preschooler at 10th St. Preschool in Santa Monica. Samantha’s son also attended 10th St. Preschool. Before her current parenting hiatus she was a screenwriter in Hollywood.

 

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Guest Blogger Samantha: Waiting and Obsessing Over THE Private School Admissions Letters

Waiting For Letters: Time Drags On

Waiting.

 

It’s the worst.  It’s a little mini-hell.  The minutes pass like hours, the days like years.

 

And now, as most of you wait for admission letters from the various schools you’ve applied to, you have an intimacy with waiting that you could have done without.  But here you are, waiting nonetheless.

 

Ugh!!!

 

So, as you sit, trying to fill the time, it’s only natural that you start thinking about things…  And then, because you’re only human, doubt creeps in and starts playing games with your mind.

 

You think about that interview at that school you love.  You know, the school that is PERFECT for your kid.  Like, if you get into that school you’ll never have any problems in your life again.  Ever.  Really.  The interview there was great.  You really felt comfortable with the Admissions Director, like you were long lost sisters, or BFF’s or whatever.  You were wearing the same shoes, which was so funny, because when you commented on that she chuckled and mentioned being like-minded.

 

Right.

 

You’re like-minded.

 

Do you think she was just saying that?

 

Do you think she thought the shoe comment was weird?

 

Oh my God, I commented on her shoes.  I’m such a moron!  She probably thinks I have a shoe fetish or something.  Like I’m Imelda Marcos.  Oh shoot — she might have family in the Philippines, or maybe she once knew someone from the Philippines.  Now she probably thinks I was saying something bigoted and awful.  Oh God, we’re never getting in – I’ve ruined my child’s life forever!

 

Sound familiar?  Let me make you feel better.  The Admissions Director is definitely not admitting you because you made a comment about shoes, or because you shook her hand too hard or not hard enough.  Neither is she wondering about whether your outfit matched at the coffee or if your kid’s clothes looked too small.  Even the spinach you are convinced was in your teeth the day of your interview will NOT be the deciding factor in your child’s admission.

 

If only it were that easy…

 

See, there’s gender and birthdate, legacy and siblings, personality and diversity.  Those things make random shoe selection look simple!

 

Now, assuming you didn’t talk on your cell phone throughout the tour, or check your Blackberry twenty times during your interview, I can pretty much give you a free pass on the small transgressions that you are now sure are the death knell for admittance.

 

You are ok.  You are just powerless.

 

So, acknowledge all the things that there are to obsess about, from your tone of voice to wearing white before Memorial Day, and then let it go.

 

And try to remember that obsessing is Mom 101, but surrendering is an AP class.

 

Good luck!

Samantha Goodman is the mom of a First Grader at Wildwood School and a preschooler at 10th St. Preschool in Santa Monica. Samantha’s son also attended 10th St. Preschool. Before her current parenting hiatus she was a screenwriter in Hollywood.

Samantha’s previous guest blog pieces: Previous posts: “Wait-Listed At Wildwood” and “What Its Really Like At Wildwood School”

 

 

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Guest Blogger Samantha: What Is It Really Like At Wildwood School?

 

So, you want to know what it’s really like at Wildwood School…Well, the truth is, it’s awesome – or I should say, it’s awesome for my family.

 

I was worried, as I think most sane parents are, about the level of entitlement that might exist at a Los Angeles private school.  Worried for my child, but also worried for me.  I mean look, I was well aware that I was gonna have to see these folks everyday – potentially for years.  Now, for the kind of misanthropic person I can sometimes be, well, that’s a HUGE commitment!

 

Thankfully, thus far, it’s been pretty smooth sailing and I’ve met lots of great people at Wildwood!

 

Cue the applause.

 

Admittedly, I’m a new parent at Wildwood, my son just having started last year, but really, so far so good…

 

Families come from all over town at Wildwood.  Most folks that I hang with and have met are down to earth, normal, like-minded souls — just regular people trying to live interesting, thoughtful lives.  And, the same can be said of the Administration, Faculty and Staff.  I was thrilled to realize, once school started, that there were many people who worked at Wildwood with whom I would HAPPILY have a beer or glass of wine – maybe even two.

 

Now that’s a recommendation in my book!

 

There are families with money at Wildwood.  Some of them have, I would imagine, A LOT of money.  There are also families with not so much.  Some families have their parents help with tuition.  Some don’t.  It really seems like a hodgepodge of differing scenarios.

 

Wildwood is, in my opinion, very “normal” in terms of people and their relationship to money.  The cars at pick-up are just that — cars, not a replica of the Barney’s parking lot.  People don’t wear couture clothing to drop off their kids…

I have yet to see a tiara.

 

Volunteering, happily, seems to really mean volunteering.  I was involved this year at Wildwood, but was selective about where I spent my time.  Some of my friends took their first year “off”, as it were, and wanted to get the lay of the land before they committed to anything.  Others hit the ground running, and really rolled up their proverbial sleeves.

 

And you know what?  Any and all of that seemed ok.  There seemed to be no pressure, no — do more, give more, be more attitude – at all.  It really has felt genuinely relaxed, and I’m thrilled…

 

And did I mention?   Relieved.

Samantha Goodman is the mom of a First Grader at Wildwood School and a preschooler at 10th St. Preschool in Santa Monica. Samantha’s son also attended 10th St. Preschool. Before her current parenting hiatus she was a screenwriter in Hollywood.
 

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Guest Blogger Samantha: Wait-Listed At Wildwood, Then The Phone Call That Was The Best/Worst Possible News

Ok, so we all have felt the anxiety of the Los Angeles private elementary school admissions process…  For some of us (read: me) it started with preschool, then it quietly smoldered until it was time for kindergarten.  By then, the smoldering had turned into a forest fire.

 

All the mothers I knew at my son’s preschool seemed cool and collected on the surface, but just below was the same anxiety I felt, and for some, this competition manifested in some pretty unpleasant behavior.  For me, this was the part of the process I hated the most.

 

For good or for bad, I have the general demeanor of a Golden Retriever.  I’m pretty even keeled in the mood department (a plus when going through the stresses of applying to private school), but it also means that I am oblivious to the politics surrounding me as I go along my merry way (not a plus when applying to private schools).  I’ll spare you the tales of hurt feelings and ruffled feathers and save that for another time.  Suffice to say, whatever you are feeling, I guarantee that you are not alone.

 

In our case, we applied to 4 schools, and ultimately, we were accepted at 3 of them.  This is the happy ending of the story, and as someone who fights the urge to read the end of the book first; I’ve spared you the suspense.  However, things didn’t start out so peachy.

 

While it seemed like everyone around me was joyous about their private school acceptances (aside from a few whispers regarding people who hadn’t gotten in anywhere), I was not.  I had had my heart set on one particular school: Wildwood.

 

It wasn’t that the other schools weren’t appealing; they were!  It was just that on some visceral level Wildwood was it for me.  And absolutely, more importantly, it was IT for my child.  When D-Day came, we were wait-listed at Wildwood and I was devastated.

 

I wrote a note to the Admissions Director at Wildwood.  This is what it said:

 

“Dear Chantelle,

We received your kind notice regarding our waitlisted status at Wildwood. 

With that in mind, we wanted to reiterate our interest in your school and our profound desire to become part of the Wildwood community. 

We know in our heart that Wildwood is the school that we want to educate our children and that we want to make part of our family. We would, at anytime, jump at the opportunity to take a Kindergarten opening if a space were to open up. 

Your school is and was the number one choice for our son, and it is our deepest hope that you might keep us top of mind if an opening were to become available.

Thank you so much for considering our family and our heartfelt request.”

 

Not having much time to wallow, for fear my son might pick up on my disappointment, I bucked up, determined to look at the glass as half full.  I talked to friends and family, I lost sleep, and within the 2 week window by which time one needs to commit to their said school, we had picked between our 2 contenders. My son was going to The Willows.This was a happy thing!   We were so lucky!  The Willows was a wonderful school and I knew people who would have loved to have gone there, but didn’t get in.  Yet, no matter how much spin I tried to put on it, I wasn’t as happy as I knew I should be.

 

I berated myself for getting too emotionally invested in the whole school picking process.  My son was going to do well anywhere, I told myself.  And, best of all, The Willows was closer to where we lived!  See, I kept repeating, that’s a sign that we’re supposed to be at The Willows.

 

We sent in the deposit check.

 

After a few days, my talking to myself was working.  I wanted to throw off the cape of disappointment that burdened me; it was no fun to wear it around!  I started embracing our new school and planning for the fall.  I even told my son that he would be attending The Willows with another little boy that he knew from preschool.  All was feeling right again, and I was happy to put the misery behind me.

 

Then, a couple of days after the deposit checks were due; I had a message on my phone.  I listened to it.  My heart started pounding.  I felt nauseous.  It was the absolute worst/best news possible!

 

We were being offered a space at Wildwood off the wait list.  I damned the old adage:

 

Be careful what you wish for…

 

Suddenly, after all the internal dialogues, and the committees talking in my head, I didn’t know what to do.  My husband seemed mystified that my gut check was deactivated.  When he reminded me that Wildwood had been our first choice initially, I quickly retorted that while that was true then, now I was unsure.  My campaign to embrace the other was, apparently, very effective.

 

I was adrift, feeling (irrationally) that my son’s entire life depended on my making the right decision.  But which choice was right?  Who knew anymore?  Somewhere there had to be an answer.  I found nothing illuminating.  I spoke, once again, with friends and family, taking everyone’s opinion-temperature, hoping somehow to find the right answer.  Nothing helped.

 

That day was a cacophony of phone calls, endless discussions with my husband, and talks that seemed more like solace than congratulations.  Frankly, it was ridiculous, and that night I vowed to shut out all the voices — those of others and my own — and try to feel the right decision.

 

Clarity arrived from the most obvious of places: my son.  Knowing that little boy, knowing his strengths and his stretches and my dreams for him, not to mention his developing dreams for himself, I found an answer.

 

It wasn’t the right answer.

 

It was the right answer for him.

 

In June, my boy will be finishing his first year at Wildwood and all of us are happier than we ever could have imagined.

 


Samantha Goodman is the mom of a Kindergartner at Wildwood School and a preschooler at 10th St. Preschool in Santa Monica. Samantha’s son also attended 10th St. Preschool. Before her current parenting hiatus she was a screenwriter in Hollywood.

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