Please Stop Meowing – How to Survive a Toddler’s School Interview


I’ve never believed in “Murphy’s law” until I was a mom and really not until we embarked on the much dreaded “School Interviews.” Murphy’s law is that “Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong,” which is a close relative (kinda like that annoying cousin who you simply can’t avoid seeing at least once a year) of Sod’s law: “Anything that will go wrong will do so at the worst possible moment.” Part of every mommy’s daily dose of reality.  Well, I finally fully got the true meaning of both laws at my toddler’s first school interview.

Yes, your child, your baby, your “cocopop muffin scoop angel breath” is going to be judged. And guess what? It’s worse than a check-up at your pediatrician to gauge how coordinated Junior is when he’s crawling. This is much more intense. People with blank stares and clipboards walk around and scribble God-knows-what about your child in a 30-minute window of exposure to them while they play. 30 minutes. I’ve been on the phone with telemarketers longer than that.

I walked into our top school choice and immediately wished that this were not our first assessment. I loved the school and she was ill prepared. Let’s just say a lot of cookies had been handed out at 7 am and I had to help my two year old pee in a bag because Mommy said so. Combine traffic, newly potty trained and Sod’s law in action and let’s just say we weren’t off to the best start. Could I reschedule? Well, the email explicitly said I could not, so I guessed that would be a no. Mostly for fear of what that would show the school about our ability to follow rules.

When we finally get there we’re ushered into a room with 15 other kids and overly stressed out parents sizing each other up. And down. And back up again. I really should have gotten a manicure. And maybe flossed all my teeth because I had this persistent sesame seed for my tongue to obsess over that stayed lodged snuggly between two molars the entire time. Lots of stares and competitive fake smiles later I realized that Mother Theresa’s law of “Whatever will be, will be” needed to be adopted.

Okay, so I really have no idea if she even said this, but seems like something she would endorse. And until I get my name placed on a waiting list I’ll send across my good lucks to you and warn you of the things that will go through your mind when placed in that scenario. Here’s my 13-part checklist of what went through my mind during the interview:

1.      Ohmygod why is she suddenly sticking her tongue out like that. Wait, isn’t this a sign of maturity in some cultures? Ummmm, I need to look that up.
2.      What did I make her wear these new shoes? All she’s doing is buckling and unbuckling them and I swear that blonde, intimidating woman is writing in her notebook, ‘Child obsessive-compulsive about shoes. Could be massive phobias or an imaginary friend. Red flag.’
3.      Dear God please do not let her pick her nose. Maybe I should’ve let her stick her finger up that left nostril she loves so much on the car ride here. I really hope they don’t notice that her left nostril is slightly larger than her right. Ughhhh. I may just start encouraging her to share the nose picking action and stick her finger up that right nostril.
4.      She better not pee.
5.      She better not poop.
6.      I hope she doesn’t smell my anxiety. I need to stop wiping my upper lip sweat.
7.      Is it awkward if I suddenly speak to her in the three words of Mandarin I know?
8.      Would FaceTiming my mom during the assessment to get an objective opinion to discuss later be totally wrong?
9.      Do these other moms have it together or are they ‘faking it until they make it’?
10.     How much did that other kid prep? There is no way that German kid learned how to sing the U.A.E national anthem on his own. Seriously, in Arabic too?
11.     Of course today is the day she decides to answer every question with a meow.
12.     Why is that kid’s mom coaxing him into singing ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb.’ Yes, we get it lady he can sing it in 4 languages whilst playing it on the guitar. Annoying.
13.     How do I strike a balance between being involved and letting her do her thing?

She did okay I guess. Minimal nose picking and actually ending up making friends with Alfonso who was clearly as lost as my toddler. They held hands and took their time going into the “Judgment Den.” Alfonso’s dad lightened the moment as they toddled in together murmuring that they were exhibiting “advanced interpersonal skills.” Well, until they almost pushed each other over inside over the one doctor’s kit.

As I walked us out off the premises, I found the silver lining. There’s always home schooling. Way less judgment.



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