The Fancies have to enroll their Fancy children in school. This is a process that I find ridiculous. They are infants. How do I know if they will do well in single-sex school or not? They’ll be in the same year but should they be in the same class or separated? And do I really want them going to school with other Fancy people? Or, even worse, Very Fancy People? But H has convinced me that we must play the game to give our kids “options and opportunities.” So I’ve been running around town with my open chequebook, putting them on waiting lists and admissions queues and hoping that somehow dumb luck will get us into some decent school that we all love.
Many of these institutions won’t allow a parent to visit until a child has been accepted, unless it is Open Day. I suppose this is to keep hundreds of eager Mums from crowding the school hallways, staring into classrooms and dreaming about their own child one day joining the elite. Then again, there are schools that welcome visits from prospective families in groups. It’s probably an opportunity to watch the mothers interact and attempt to out perform each other. Because, after all, isn’t that much of what this school acceptance game is about? Making sure the parents are successful people who will bring the right amount of sophistication (and cash) to Parent’s Night?
I had my first school visit today and I was nervous. Princess and TC didn’t really understand that their entire future hinged on what kind of performance their mother would bring. I took extra time dressing, trying to find the right balance of classy and casual. I read and reread the prospectus while in the taxi, making sure I had a list of intelligent and insightful questions ready. I got there early, but waited until just 2 minutes before my appointment to ring the bell, lest I appear over eager. Then it was showtime.
And? Did I bring the right combination of funny and smart, warm yet reserved, eager but not too? Was it clear to them that I’m both Fancy enough to afford the tuition and invested enough in my children’s future to know that the right nursery school will make all the difference in 20 years’ time?
Um. I don’t know. I got nervous. And then I got chatty. And before I knew it, the ladies in the office were taking notes on how to cook a perfect Thanksgiving turkey. (Because I have had a lot of practice, taken a lot of risks, and now believe that I am in possession of the secret to good, no, great turkey.)
So there you go. My girls’ futures are riding on roasted fowl. If a group of English families have an unexpectedly fantastic meal this holiday season, then I suppose we’ll be shopping for uniforms in two years. But if something goes terribly wrong, if the breast is dry or the skin doesn’t crisp, then we’d probably just get you some Tesco uniforms now, girls, because that is clearly where you’ll be headed without the benefit of ballet lessons and French class when you’re 3. Mom promises to work on her act.