1. How everyone will convince you that it is integral for your one-and-a-half-year old to socialise with other one-and-a-half-year old, non-conversing, runny-nosed people. I didn’t go to pre-school, I turned out just fine — so what if I cried every day through first grade!
2. How incredibly expensive they are. No matter how many PhDs in child psychology the teacher has, how incredible the cookies and milk are or how big the campus is, it does not mean that I will pay a ludicrous amount to teach my kid how to play with blocks and sing and dance to Barney. I can do so much better myself, at home, for nothing!
3. The race to register. Even if you call the principal from your honeymoon, before the bundle of joy has been conceived, she will tell you that you are too late and your child will now end up illiterate.
4. The Harvard-like interviews of parents. Most principals will grill you about everything from your pregnancy to how many languages you know.
5. The Oxford-like interviews of kids. They seem quite innocent at first, bringing in some fun toys for your kid to play with. But let me warn you, everything the kids do with the toys will be judged and critiqued by the evil principal who will probably watch the child like a predator the entire time.
6. The interview exercises. Some ask the child to separate the toy animals into domesticated and wildlife categories, others to sing five nursery rhymes. I’m 27 and I may not be able to do that. If my child knows all this before even coming to school, I’d probably quit my job, join the pre-school and let HIM do the 9-5!
7. The look on people’s faces if you, God forbid, don’t send a child to pre-school. It’s the same look they give if you physically assault your child in public or home-school them.
8. The pre-school sending mothers. The only reason they agree to send a kid that early is so they can get their nails done and visit a lawn exhibition during the time the child is away. Shouldn’t the first five years of the child’s life be spent mostly with the mother and not shuttled here and there with drivers, maids and teachers?
9. The tuitions. Yes, expensive tuitions are now being offered that can help your child get into the pre-school of YOUR dreams. I repeat, YOUR dreams!
10. The popping up of pre-schools in every galli and mohalla with ridiculous sounding names. Why don’t they change the names to the more appropriate “we are out to get your money, are you stupid enough to give it to us?”
Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, May 15th, 2011.
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