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Preschool Search Nightmare Starts Today

Nursery University documentary about preschool in Manhattan
Nursery University documentary about preschool in Manhattan

About an hour ago, hundreds of parents around Manhattan, and all the friends, nannies and personal consultants they enlisted, started dialing the phone.

Most got a busy signal. So they started dialing again. Busy signal. Hang up. Dial again. And so went their morning, calling all over Manhattan. And for what? An application for preschool. An APPLICATION!

Finding and getting your kid into preschool in America isn’t particularly fun anywhere, I’m guessing. But preschool admissions is its own special beast for the affluent in crowded cities like New York, where a post 9/11 baby boom led to 15 to 20 toddler applicants for each available spot at the best nursery schools.

Now, normally I’m rolling my eyes at all the breathless drama surrounding the preschool school search and application process just about anywhere people are getting breathless and dramatic about it.

But I watched a DVD of “Nursery University” and got sucked in emotionally to the stories of all the families filmmakers followed in the September to September process.

It’s fun to see behind-the-scenes, and I gotta tell you: I’ve always suspected preschool adminstrators — even the nice ones — are on some kind of power trip. They may moan about the whole thing, call it ridiculous and unnecessary, overblown, the whole bit. But they’re making fun of clueless parentson camera and talking to grown-ups like their 4-year-olds.

Of course, a bunch of the parents grate on the viewers nerves as well. The entitlement is astounding. But it’s easy to like many of them, like the working class couple who only apply to one preschool. And the middle class native New Yorkers who thought they could just walk their daughter to the neighborhood school and drop her off for the morning. (Seriously, I think parents in Des Moines know that if you live in NYC, you’re going to have to jump through some hoops to get the kid into pre-K.

Anyway, the film is funny and sad and irritating an enlightening an I totally recommend it. Maybe not if you’re going through the preschool search this year. If that’s the case, wait a bit. Watch it AFTER the acceptance letters have arrived.

Here’s a trailer:

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