Meanwhile, I'm getting calls from all these hard to get into schools that I applied to years ago. They had a spot if we wanted one, but they were ALL full time and way out of our budget. I had to turn them down.
I had a few friends in co-ops, so I started looking into those. They were all mostly full, but one had an afternoon spot. The commitment was HUGE (1 working day per week, two night time meetings per month plus other duties, etc), BUT the cost was so little, I figured I would work my work day a little differently to do my work day and it would all be fine.
I toured this sweet little school and while the facilities were great, the yard was HUGE, the kids seemed happy, and I knew that even if it wasn't perfect, I would be there 1 of the days per week and he was only there part-time - he could get what he needed (and we needed from it). It seemed like the perfect solution.
I signed him up right then and there.
Then I found out they were having summer camp, so I signed him up for summer camp too!
I won't go into all the details, but for the first week, I went with him almost every day (it is only three hours). I had to constantly mediate between kids refusing to play with him, pretending to shoot him, and very quietly being VERY mean. I had to watch him standing alone on the playground and no adult ask him if he needed something.
I didn't feel quite right, but rather than run, like I felt I did before, I decided to talk to the teachers. So I talked to both teachers about the exclusion behavior I saw and how TT might need a bit more love until he found friends. I felt a bit brushed off here too.
The following Monday, I made bubbs come with me. The main bully's mom was the "teacher" in the big inside play room and TT seemed nervous. He said, "The sad boy is in here. Where can i play?" He went on to explain that that boy is the mean and nervous boy who hits with walkie talkies.
We went to circle time and a boy came up to us whipping a jumprope around yelling, "I'm a hunter and I hunt people to kill!"
TT flinched every time a kid would come to sit next to him at circle.
When I asked him where he would play first, he said, "I don't know, the sad boy is inside and the mean boys are outside."
We tried to help him find other toys to play with while giving each other looks with big eyes and I could see steam starting to fly from bubbs' ears. He found his favorite plastic bin of african animals and took out all the lions and tigers (he's OBSESSED with the Lion King). He found a little open-topped cube made of play mats and got inside, then started lining all the lions and tigers up on the edge of it. I asked him, are you making an animal parade?
"No, mama, these are my lions to protect me from the boys."
Tim and I gave each other a look. I asked T, "Do you want to go home?"
He said yes, we grabbed his stuff, told his teacher we were leaving and we left.
We are not sending our 3 year old to Lord of the Flies preschool.
Fuck preschool, fuck people who say that my kid will eventually have to learn to be around mean kids.
That is bullshit.
Everyone I know that didn't love school (and most of my friends now are people who suffered at the hands of bullies their entire lives until college), found great like-minded people in college. Why would I make my kid SUFFER because he needs to get used to being scared and bullied? Why not just protect him and choose schools that don't allow that sort of thing?
So, I think our life just got way more expensive. I'm starting my search now. Small class size, commitment to a community value of loving others, a non-exclusion policy, dedicated educated low turnover in teachers.
I only have two years until Kindergarten too. I'm starting that search now.
None of this makes me want to move to the burbs because at least here we have options. We may be in debt or poor, but we have options.