direct eye contact

4 Aug

Caption for the cover photo on San Francisco Chronicle Magazine’s August “Back to School” issue (and yes, SF kids go back to school in August, which most of us adults know is still summer): “coaches guide parents through the kindergarten admissions process.”

Wait, surely they meant the “ivy league college admissions process,” right?  Well, no. Oh, gosh, so apparently not only is where you send your kid to kindergarten of dire significance in his or her’s ultimate career path – something we have all thankfully gleaned from the knowing upper echelons of society – but now it appears that the how of getting in to kindergarten is really complicated!   According to the Chron Magazine article, it is “daunting” and “tortuous,” and often causes people “anxiety” and a feeling of being “stressed out.”  Oh, you poor parents!  Thankfully, there are specialists who charge a mere $400/hour to help you through the process.  What a godsend!

First of all, let’s all mutually acknowledge the Chron Magazine’s total insensitivity to the hundreds of thousands of Bay Area residents who can barely afford to feed their families, much less hire Kindergarten Admissions Counselors, in publishing this dreck of an article.  I would also like to take public umbrage at a supposed piece of journalism that assumed the perfect validity, dare I say necessity even, of said profession.  Upper class parents with too much time on their hands can spin their wheels worrying unnecessarily about any child-related matter they care to clamp their entitled claws into, but do we really have to read about it?  Do the rest of us really have to be forced to consider, omigod, I might not be doing it right?

Anyone who knows me is well-aware how much I despise the Entitled Class of parents I spent nearly 15 years in the trenches dealing with on a daily basis.  But a reality check, to let these, shall we say, misguided parents off the hook a little – but just a little:  there are entire industries and institutions that make a comfortable living off of the anxiety that most parents rightly feel in regards to virtually anything having to do with their children.  Are you breastfeeding? Oh, well, you might not be doing it right. Is your child eating healthy?  Reaching developmental milestones? Demonstrating appropriate social skills? Let us show you how s/he could improve!  What about schooling, that’s a big one. You should get really good and stressed out now.    It’s pretty easy to get sucked into the parental guilt vortex, especially if you’re already neurosis-prone, or tend to be a bit competitive.  But one equally valid choice, as Public Enemy so aptly put it, is Don’t Believe the Hype.

When I worked as the director of a children’s art program, which was rather unfortunately (for me) located in the Marina, I would occasionally be asked to complete a reference form for a student seeking kindergarten admission to one of the exclusive private schools like Katherine Delmar Burke or Town School for Boys.  Most of the form I totally ignored, due to the sheer absurdity of the questions, which seemed more appropriate for students seeking college admission.  Wherever possible, however, I answered in such a way as to make it clear that I thought that they were a bunch of self-righteous assholes.  For example:  Q. What would you see as the ultimate career path for this child? A. Whatever direction she chooses to take, which hopefully won’t involve creating undue anxiety for and casting judgment upon innocent 5 year-olds.

I’m not kidding about their asking about what I thought the kid should be when s/he grows up; that’s not even half the ridiculousness of it.  According to the Chron Magazine article, during the drop-off “assessment” that most of these kids have to endure as part of the application process, the schools look for things like using scissors correctly and “shaking hands and making eye contact.”   Certainly, it’s common knowledge that young children who don’t know how to use scissors correctly are people one doesn’t want to associate with, but shaking hands with eye contact?  What is this, a fucking job interview? Most adults can’t even accomplish this seemingly simple feat.

I think I’ll start my own consulting business: How to Chill the Fuck Out and Let Your Child do the Same.

Next posting:  my secrets to “navigating” the “really stressful” world of “public education,” or one parent’s attempt to raise a child free of neurosis, self-loathing and double-soy-lattes-no-foam-extra-hot.


2 Responses to “direct eye contact”

  1. Sandra Ortiz August 4, 2010 at 12:15 pm #

    Funny yet sad.–as was intended. You need to introduce a paragraph break here and there though, Lady. Even though the stream-of-consciousness thing worked well for Proust, it’s unlikely he could find anyone to publish his stuff now, and certainly he would have had trouble getting into kindergarten.

  2. Rachie :) August 24, 2010 at 6:31 pm #

    LOL! I would so totally read that next one, except I got no kids. Just the two plants; and one is not doing so well. Funny stuff, as always.

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