It’s 7:15am on a Saturday morning. You’re sitting in your parked car gripping a steaming hot coffee that cost $2.45 (which was also coincidentally your GPA back in the day). A bulging manila envelope is plopped on the seat next to you, its contents thick with a registration packet that mirrors a college application. With a sly twist of the neck, you glance to your left and then to your right to size up The Competition. You lock eyes and nod. They nod back. Like you, they are here to compete. You’ve dreamt of this day since your baby was born and now it has arrived in full fruition. My friends, today is no ordinary day. Today is Preschool Registration Day. It’s Registration, not rocket science.
A few months ago, I joined the ranks of those who have gone before me to register my first-born for preschool. Granted he is just 1.5 years old and the class is Parent-Tot, but it’s important to get an early start in the game with this type of thing (especially when you’re a first timer and have no clue or connection). Contrary to the colorful ambient building in which we registered, my jocular experience was absurdly cut-throat. I lived to tell my tale:
Saturday, March 13th, 2018:
6:30am: My alarm begins to sing and dance and I hit snooze. Too early. No thanks.
6:35am: My second alarm goes off and I remember what day it is. It is The Day. Preschool Registration Day. The Hunger Games of Parenthood. It is time. I say a quick prayer for a nice low number (it’s a lottery after all, but that is just a small detail). As I pray, I repent of my sin of online shopping last night because I have memorized my credit card number and now it’s just too easy.
6:37am: I glance in the bathroom mirror and discover that a plump white zit has surfaced on my nose. Woof. I begin to curse it, but pause when I remember what my therapist told me about “Re-train your brain, Lindsay.” I consider her abundance of degrees and obnoxious co-pay and give it a shot. I dub it my lucky zit.
6:45am: I fumble around upstairs trying not to disturb my sleeping family. I hear snoring and I think it’s the dog. Downstairs, I make peanut butter toast without peanut butter because I forgot to buy more.
7:01am: I leave the house and set out on my quest. Registration starts at 8am sharp with “NO EXCEPTIONS, PARENTS!” I can do this! I am ready, I am Woman! Hear me roar!
7:03am: I drive back to the house because I forgot the registration packet.
7:09am: I make a quick stop at my local coffee drive-thru and delight in the fact that my favorite coffee guy is working. We say good morning and he tells me that he’s surprised to see me so early. I tell him about Preschool Registration Day and he nods politely. He is such a pleasant morning person.
7:13am: I have arrived, car #4 in the parking lot and nab a spot in the first row. I glance over and see that I have Harold to my left, David on my right (“We bring ‘em both together we’ve got duties all night…”). I laugh at myself for such a brilliant millennial quip and wonder what R.Kelly is up to these days. Then put my car in park and bunker down. 47 minutes. Tick-Tock.
7:23am: There is movement from within the locked building. A woman with a stack of papers glances out into the parking lot. We stare back. This is Sparta.
7:32am: I’ve spent the past 9 minutes scrolling through social media on LTE. Using the phone on LTE translates to, “Charged for data overage again, Lindsay.” Oops. I find myself signing up for “Hello Fresh” when I detect movement from the car beside me. Harold and I make eye contact and wave politely. David is sleeping. The sun is rising. My first food box arrives on Wednesday.
7:38am: A flock of important people wearing candy-colored pink shirts enters the locked chambers. They are happy and smiling because their place in this tiny colorful kingdom is already secured. My caffeine is kicking in.
7:41am: My adrenaline surges as the activity around me begins to hustle & bustle. 19 minutes. Imagine Dragons is singing “Whatever It Takes” and I adapt it as my new life motto.
7:51am: The first brave soul exits his vehicle and claims the inaugural place in line. “Jerk,” I mutter. The rest of us rush like mad chickens to follow. I take up my 4th spot in line.
7:54am: I make a joke to David (Spot #3) about standing in the freezing cold just like Black Friday but he doesn’t get it. He’s tired from his car nap. There is tension rising in the air. The line wraps around the building. I puff my chest and chin up because I want everyone to see me standing at the front of the line.
7:59am: Ready, Set…
8:00am: GO! The doors open and we file into the building like sardines and take our seats. Although it is a lottery, Harold and I both know that we were among the very first in the parking lot and dang-drat-dirty-rat that counts for something.
8:03am: As I sit in the coveted first row, I absorb my surroundings. I spy my dream Louis Vuitton handbag dangling off the arm of one mother. One guy has pajama pants on. The Competition is about what I expected. One burly brunette sports a shirt that says, “Mama Llama” and I decide not to mess with her.
8:28am: I’ve spent the past 25 minutes scrolling Facebook and eavesdropping. A woman close to me is pregnant with her 4th child because of a failed vasectomy on her husband’s part (literally…). She doesn’t seem too mad about it.
8:30am: The lottery begins “Promptly at 8:30am, NO EXCEPTIONS, PARENTS!” The room falls silent. I put positive vibes into the atmosphere by silently chanting my son’s name, “Will-iam, Will-iam, Will-iam.”
8:31am: The first name is called: “Lucy, Something.” Lucy Something looks bored. Behind me, Pajama Dad jokes that she should get a prize and balloons. I snicker at his joke because this is one uptight crowd.
8:32am: Number Two is called. He is a young good-looking guy who saunters to the front of the room clearly basking in his second-place glory.
8:33am: My nerves tingle as I look at all the parents in the room. The next name is called…
8:34am: “Murphy, William.”
8:34am: YAAAAASSSSS!!!!! Number 3!! Yes! I jump up, do a little dance, run over to the board and pluck my 1st choice. What incredible luck! I’ve won the (preschool) lottery!
8:39am: The registration process takes less than 5 minutes to complete. I speed through the line and (3 forms of ID and a fat check later) Finally, I’m done. I did the impossible; he is registered for preschool!
8:40am: As I climb into my car, high on adrenaline, espresso, and success, I notice that my friend Harold is leaving too. Double success! And whilst the fate of David, Pajama Dad, and Mama Llama remains unknown, I hope that come September we will meet again as we embark on our journey through preschool, parenthood, and all the comical chaos in between.