It has been a weird couple of days for me as a parent. All four of my son’s grandparents, plus a couple of aunts and uncles, live in town with us. We therefore have never really lacked for babysitting when we’ve needed it. My wife announced to me on Thursday that she was declaring Saturday night to be Date Night, and that furthermore she’d signed our son up for a program that our day care runs where they provide free babysitting once or twice a month from four to nine– at no additional cost to parents.
I hated the idea. Immediately. Viscerally. And I proceeded to spend the next several days at war with myself, because I also immediately realized that hating the idea was irrational as hell, and I don’t like being irrational. But there were a whole bunch of things that I didn’t know about this, and therefore didn’t like at all. Mainly: I didn’t know who the teachers were, or if there was any guarantee that they’d be people he knew, and I didn’t know if there would be any kids from his class there for him to play with.
Hated the idea. And didn’t end up getting the guts to confess that to my wife until we were literally in the car on the way, at which point we hurriedly made arrangements to leave him with my mom and dad for the evening.
At some point, we need to start paying a babysitter from time to time– not because I don’t think family members can do the job, obviously, but I feel like the kid ought to get used to the idea of occasionally being around people he isn’t as used to. Socialization is a good thing, right? Right.
Today I’ve been thinking about school. In some ways we’re lucky; we happen to be in the district of one of the best primary centers in the city, so his neighborhood school is going to be good. But the more I learn about the effect that the Common Core is having on early childhood education, the less I want my son to have anything to do with it. And we just had some old friends in town whose kids are a bit older than Kenny, and they’ve got their daughter in a Montessori school and they love the hell out of it.
I have always been of the vague opinion that Montessori was mostly voodoo, mind you– but I’m open to being wrong, and the people I know who have put their kids in Montessori schools all seem pretty happy with them. I suspect my kid might be able to do well in a Montessori environment; that doesn’t need to mean that I think the model is scalable to large-scale urban schooling.
Problem is, if I’m thinking about going private– and if I’m talking about trying to avoid testing and Common Core, I’m talking about going private– there aren’t that many options in this town that aren’t religiously affiliated. A Christian/Catholic school isn’t happening. And of the schools I know about that aren’t religious, most of them are Montessori and the one I know of that isn’t is probably a thousand dollars a month– and that’s every month, not just the ones schools are in session.
My wife and I were talking through this a bit this morning, and it was slowly dawning on both of us that if we want to take this seriously we probably need to start getting moving on it soon, if not two years ago, and trying to figure out how much tuition we could reasonably afford before we start having to talk about tuition assistance from the schools. Basically, we can afford what we’re currently paying for day care. Much more than that is not going to be easy, but we’re paying a nice little nickel for day care, so that may end up getting us somewhere.
“We could always apply for tuition vouchers,” my wife says. I’ll spare you the rant: tuition vouchers are another way the current resident of the Indiana governor’s mansion is trying to destroy public schools by bleeding us of all of our funding. It would mean several thousand dollars in tuition assistance every year– but at the expense of the public school system, a school system that I’ve worked for for nearly my entire career (speaking generically, mind you; I did start at teaching at a private Catholic school but that was only because public schools wouldn’t hire me.)
I don’t want to do that, but it would save me a shitton of money, and might ensure a better education and thus a better future for my child.
I just have to buy into a system that I know for a fact to be evil, and that I know for a fact is destroying an institution that is critical for the future functioning of the kind of society I want to live in.