February 26, 2009

on Thursday

Back from Costa Rica without one sunburnt kid and we are still enjoying the first days of being back home. I always wonder on my trips back if I'll have that familiar feeling of being home, of loving the city and our Brooklyn nabe... or if one day I'll come back and feel nothing. I get this feeling of anticipation when we leave the airport and drive home, and my heart jumps a little when we turn onto Atlantic Avenue, just minutes from our place. Then the first few days back are like rediscovering the city you love, why you were drawn here in the first place and even the routine feels a little new.

Then, thud. Nine loads of laundry later you start coming back down and at some point you know you need to feed the kids a home cooked meal before they start turning into sandwiches and mac'n'cheese, and then the whole problem of schooling and where to live and how to live - thud.

New Yorkers will know what I'm talking about when I say that schooling is some serious business here and one of the top reasons people move away. My older one will go to Kindergarten in a year and if we want to guarantee him a spot at all we'll have to move to the zoned area for that public school. Private school is still an option but I expect if it was anything like the 2's application process we are pretty un-thrilled about it. We will know more about that in the fall but at this point we've toured over ten public schools and feel strong about several of them including the famed Park Slope, PS 321. But it would mean we would have to move. Again.

And then it wouldn't matter by the 5th grade because if we stayed in the public school system all the kids re-apply for middle school and it is the norm to end up commuting up to an hour away, for all of your kids to go to different schools in different areas, and then have to do the whole testing/application/interviewing/auditioning again for high school! No wonder the moms I've seen who've led the school tours all wear the same outfit: fitted worn black jeans, black tee, trekking shoes and and no joke, a money belt. They all have the air of being able to do anything at any moment which obviously comes with having put two or three children through school from pre-k to high school and thinking nothing of having one commute to the Upper West Side while another is bused to Coney Island.

Now why would anyone deal with this madness? Well many don't and so we have a ton of suburban neighborhoods pretty much founded by those who couldn't deal with this plus the other difficulties of urban living. And we've driven to some of those places and checked it out for ourselves. And at the end of the day we end up coming back having recounted all the reasons why we love living in the city - the lack of driving, the ethnic eating, the diversity, the creativity not to mention K-Town. We also realized that moving to a town with one school had drawbacks as well; we wouldn't have any choice first of all and we could be sure it would nowhere be as diverse as here. Our kids wouldn't be one of many mixed Korean kids but one of a few, and if the school had weak spots say in the arts or literature, we wouldn't have as many resources to draw on for support.

As a parent I've seen how hard it is to match a school to your child's particular needs and with the choices here parents always have options. Many, in fact. And having had key school experiences that were a poor fit for me I'm reluctant to give up the choices. So, back again to paragraph three. (they always say life is cyclical but i didn't imagine it this way)

Thud. Any thoughts?

posted at 01:14 PM by jenn

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03/02/09 08:04 PM

many thoughts on this, as mother of a 1/2 korean child who will enter K in the fall (and as city people who moved to the burbs, in the midwest, no less). But no time to write about it now. Can I just point you all to this instead? For Korean fans of Flight of the Conchords, it could get no better: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=shP1IRGigbo

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