March 7, 2010

Everything I know, I learned while registering for kindergarten

The alarm on my phone pierced the serenity of the night.  It was early.  Or it was late.  3:00 a.m. does that to your brain – all you know is the only place you should be is wrapped up under the covers with your tattered shorts and “I’m Wearing My Twitter Shirt” t-shirt.  Instead, you find yourself filling up a travel mug with a poor man’s mocha of freshly brewed coffee and hot chocolate, pulling an old beach chair out of the garage and heading to the local elementary school to register your kids for kindergarten.

I arrive at 3:45 a.m. and there is already a group of 10 or so people waiting in front of the school auditorium.  They say the early bird catches the worm, but the early parent also guarantees enrollment in the area’s only full-day kindergarten.  There are 100 spots for kindergarten in this school and those who arrive after 7:00 a.m. will be out of luck.  They will also have to wait all day in the auditorium to register as it take each parent approximately 10 minutes to register.  That’s six people per hour. It’s gonna be a long day.

But for me, it’s a long night.  I settle into my beach chair at 3:45 and sip my mocha and make small talk with the lady to my right.  She lives in my neighborhood so we chat about home values, our kids and the fact that the school district really should change the way people register for kindergarten.  This. Is. Insane.

Before long, but long after my legs have turned numb, the sky begins to lighten and, thank God, the custodian arrives to open the restrooms. After a trip to the little boys room, I’m a new man. Soon after, the doors to the auditorium open and we are escorted into the warmth of a carpeted multi-purpose room that has a stage, basketball hoops and fold out tables. Being the newbie that I am, I did not realize I should have picked up the enrollment forms ahead of time. So, I quickly grab a couple of packets and furiously scribble all the needed information in record time. I am ready when my number is called at 8:30 a.m.

But, it turns out, I’m NOT ready. The first person I speak to is the school nurse who informs me while cringing that our shot records are not up to date. These are the same shot records that we scheduled an appointment in February with our pediatrician to make sure they were up to date. And now? After almost 5 hours of waiting, I’m about to lose what little sanity I have left. I know it. The Nurse knows it. Luckily, I ask, is there anything I can do? She summons over the head admin person, explains my situation, and asks if they can hold my spot. Once we hear yes, she tells me to go get my kids and go straight to the pediatrician’s office. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200 but also, do not leave without getting those shots.

So that’s what I do. And the kids? They deserve a frickin’ award after being unceremoniously plucked from daycare and ushered over to the pediatrician where they are given FOUR shots without a single tear. In fact, Swee’Pea actually giggled the entire time – which totally confirms my suspicions that no one will EVER figure that girl out.

Two hours after I’m told our shots aren’t up to date, I arrive back in the auditorium where they are serving number 23. I proudly show them my updated records and, duly impressed by my speed and determination, I am allowed to register the kids for kindergarten. Mission accomplished.

Now, they better get straight A’s or there will be hell to pay! (What? They don’t get grades in Kindergarten? Who do I talk to about that?!)


  1. Good job! It IS insane that this is the only way to get all-day kindergarten. What’s even more insane is that single parents – who might need the all-day K the most – would be the most hard-pressed to find someone to be with their sleeping kids while they stood on line. Our magnet school in Ann Arbor used to use a similar “first-serve” system, and parents would camp out for DAYS – again, this discriminated against those unable to leave work or pay someone to stay in line for them. BUT ANYWAY, congratulations! You’re great!

    Comment by Aina — March 7, 2010 @ 9:24 pm

  2. What a pain! Our school didn’t even offer all day kindergarten. Families are assigned morning or afternoon and not allowed to switch. You can request one or the other but they don’t promise anyone anything. Yes, it’s a dictatorship. On the other hand? I never had to wake up at 3 a.m. to register any of my three kids.

    Comment by Twenty Four At Heart — March 7, 2010 @ 10:07 pm

  3. There’s only one all-day kindergarten? Wow! Kind of reminds me when everyone was posting about their Black Friday experiences last year. About 4 years ago all the public schools in our town went to all-day so I never had to go through this early morning registration. Good for you that you got everything done so quickly.

    Comment by Grace — March 8, 2010 @ 6:05 am

  4. You have an “I’m Wearing My Twitter Shirt” t-shirt? Awesome.

    Comment by drlori71 — March 8, 2010 @ 8:36 am

  5. I would have totally taken your spot while you were in the bathroom.

    Comment by People in the Sun — March 8, 2010 @ 11:41 am

  6. man, I cannot believe there is only 1 full day K. Good for you for snagging a spot. Well deserved after sitting in a lawn chair for 3+ hours.

    Comment by mel — March 8, 2010 @ 11:53 am

  7. You’re a good man, Matthew. Gold star for you.

    Comment by Nancy — March 8, 2010 @ 12:21 pm

  8. I sat down at my computer, with my vaccination records and input it all. I then hit submit. We have 6 months to get everything up to date…but ALL DAY Kindergarten, I’m way jealous.

    Comment by Julie {Angry Julie Monday} — March 9, 2010 @ 10:16 am

  9. Whew! Consider this a dry run…Wait till you have to fill out FAFSA forms.

    Comment by Grandmother — March 9, 2010 @ 7:26 pm

  10. We’re navigating the same waters over here. It’s not for the weak by any means…

    Comment by designHer Momma — March 11, 2010 @ 6:44 pm

  11. all for the little ones, right? you are in the brotherhood of pappy campers. (starting at 3:45 counts as a full-night campout!)

    well done, my fellow multiple dad.

    Comment by john cave osborne — March 13, 2010 @ 10:03 am

  12. Well done for doing it, but my GOD, that is a crazy system!!

    Comment by pixielation — March 14, 2010 @ 4:01 am

  13. So, how does the pediatrician explain that the kids weren’t up to date when you paid for them to be up to date?

    Comment by KC — March 15, 2010 @ 8:13 pm

  14. I can’t believe there is only one all-day kindergarten. I always assume (in my own little naive world) that everyone does things the way they are done around me. All of our schools are all day kindergartens. We register on a spring day each year…and if we fill up the four sections we always have, we just hire a new teacher.

    Comment by Amy — March 20, 2010 @ 12:00 pm

  15. When I was Sweet Pea’s age I was the same way.. but now.. OMG get that needle away from me..
    So if she is anything like me she’ll be brilliant and awesome lol

    Comment by MP — April 21, 2010 @ 12:40 pm

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