Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Waiting for Godot (AKA Adventures in Preschool)

By Sariah S. Wilson

My four-year-old is in preschool. In our school district, we have a preschool that is THE place you want your child to go. Every year they have a waiting list. The first year I tried to get my son in there, I was 459 on that list.

Why is the school so great? Well, according to federal law, when a child with a disability reaches the age of three it is the local school district’s responsibility to educate that child in a special preschool. My oldest son went to the same school, and I can’t even tell you how much he benefited from it. The way the school is set up - each class has six children with disabilities, and six children who are considered typical. The teachers are highly trained and very well educated. Each class has two to three aides, and that’s not including the speech, occupational and physical therapists that are in and out to help the children.

What I loved about the arrangement was the amount of individual attention the children could receive. I loved that my son observed other children acting appropriately and it helped him to learn to do things quicker. I also loved that it taught those typical kids more sympathy and compassion for their classmates.

So, I wanted my younger son to attend as well. But 458 people were in front of me.

Then last year in February I got an unexpected call - the school had an opening and was I interested? I don’t know how I jumped up the list or why, but I took the spot.

My four-year-old has flourished. He started begging me to go to school when he was two because he wanted to be just like his older brother. He adores school and loves to learn. He had been attending our local YMCA program, but was more than willing to go to a new school.

He then was able to return this year as a student because he had been one last year. No waiting list for us!

Now the waiting is of a different kind. This school is approximately 20 minutes away from our house. So I drive him there, drop him off, drive home. I then repeat the process two hours later - 20 minutes there and then another 20 minutes back.

When I pick him up, I have to come inside the school to a special hallway they have designated for parents to pick their kids up. Each classroom has an assigned area where the parents wait. This school also has a very small parking lot, so if you don’t arrive early you’re left without a spot to park in and you have to wait for someone to return to their car before you can park. That annoys me, so I arrive early every day.

As I realized how much time I was devoting to this process, I decided that I needed to make better use of my time. When my son is in the car, we spend time talking and maybe doing things like memorizing our phone number or our address. But once I’m alone, I now spend that time listening to audio books. I started doing this because I won an audio version of Jane Austen's “Pride and Prejudice,” and I adored listening to it. I actually laughed out loud, which I don’t think I’ve done either watching the movie or reading the book. I don’t know why it was so different, but I loved it.

After I finished it, I had to listen to something else. So I was off to my local library to start compiling a new listening list (speaking of which, does anyone have any suggestions? I’d love to hear them!)

When I get to the school I wait in the car for a few minutes, listening to my book. Then I go inside the school to wait, and the wait can be anywhere from three to fifteen minutes. That’s a lot of time to stand around and do nothing.

So I started keeping a stack of industry magazines in my car that I never seem to have time to get to, things like Romantic Times. I read them when I’m waiting in a line in my car or if I know I’m going to be sitting in a doctor’s office I take my copy with me. I always take one in with me to read while I wait for my son to finish with preschool.

And it’s a good thing too, because the farcical things that happen while I wait make me go a little crazy.

There’s the grandmother who enters the hallway and always brushes my magazine as she walks past. I don’t know why she can’t walk in the other twelve feet of open hallway. But every single day she walks so close to me I’m afraid she’s going to trip.

There’s the conversations of the women around me that sound the same every day. I guess you do run out of things to talk about when you have to see the same acquaintances all the time. I couldn’t do it. Remember my earlier posts about what an introvert I am? Making small talk is like a death sentence for me. I can’t stand it - I don’t want to do it. If I had to talk to the other moms every day I think I would actually die. My magazines give me a safe out. Maybe the other moms think I’m a snob. I’m okay with that.

But there’s the mom who has apparently decided I’m lonely and is trying to rescue me. I don’t know if there’s a polite way to tell her I’m fine and I’d really like to read. Every day she asks me how the book is going (since she found out that I’m a writer). I tell her fine. Then I have to say fine again, because I talk very softly and always have to repeat what I’ve just said to her because she never hears me the first time (despite the fact that the answer is always the same). We do this at least four times a week. I know she’s trying to be nice. But it makes my head hurt. (Yes, I know what a grouch I am. So I guess when Rob is a grumpy old man throwing rocks at trick or treaters, I’ll be his even grumpier neighbor who supplies him with the rocks.)

What about you? How do you fill in those standing around doing nothing gaps in your day?


At 3/17/2007 10:07 PM, Anonymous Jennie said...

I don't have as many hurry up and wait moments now that my children are grown as I once did, but I learned a long time ago to keep a book in my purse, one in my car, a sudoku book in my husband's car, pencil and paper in my purse, and like you, I love books on tape or CD when I'm driving. Anything read by David Walker is generally good. I enjoy several of the women readers too. I like Mary Higgins Clark's recorded books. And there are a couple main stream writers whose books seem to go on forever when I read them, but I thoroughly enjoy listening to their abridgements. (Generally I prefer unabridged, but a well done abridgement is okay.)I generally shy away from the more explicit romance or mystery writers because their profanity and slobbering sex scenes are really gross when read aloud. I frequently hear people at book signings or when I speak to groups tell me how much pleasure they get from recorded books while they sew, drive, exercise, or do mundane chores.

At 3/17/2007 10:39 PM, Blogger Marcia Mickelson said...

I agree with you about liking to be alone sometimes. I enjoy time by myself and don't always have to be talking to someone. Last month, I went to a day long workshop with an hour for lunch and was excited about going to lunch by myself. When do I ever get to do that? When a very nice lady I met at the workshop asked me to join her and a group of friends for lunch, I declined. She was being very nice and noticed that I was alone, but I liked the idea of going to Olive Garden by myself. Nothing wrong with that, right?

At 3/17/2007 11:17 PM, Blogger Michele Holmes said...

Nicholas Sparks' Three Weeks With My Brother is a great, unabridged, audio book.

I wait in carpool lines 30-45 minutes a day to pick my children up at their charter schools. This year a volume of Jane Austen's complete works has made me actually look forward to the afternoon ritual.

At 3/18/2007 12:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You may just want to pay closer attention to the farcical things that happen while you wait. They are the stuff of character, the substance of those who will people your next novel with interesting blokes, quirky secondary characters and a host of descriptions and manerisms that will set your writing apart from others. Be observant. Watch carefully. Not only will you find a host of facinating characters and "stage directions" in the waiting parents line, your mind may just be inspired to wander into the possibilites of stories that transformed these "characters" into who they are, and then you you've found your next novel. You can still read your industry magazines, but use that is a disguise for what you're really doing. Reseraching the characters for your next novel.

At 3/18/2007 1:05 AM, Blogger Keith Fisher said...

I was going to suggest: Pretend You Don't See Her by May Higgins Clark. but I see someone has already suggested her. I work in front of a computer screen all night watching images go by so I fill the time with books on tape. Make sure (as has been suggested) you find unabridged copies. Although I enjoyed Jeffery Savage's House of secrets abridgement. I live in a town with a large LDS section and that includes audio books. the trouble is the LDS titles are always checked out. I have made some mistakes, but Louie Lamour is good as well as Mark Twain in fact you might find most of the classics.

At 3/19/2007 6:45 AM, Blogger Mindi said...

I love to go to movies by myself and it's always matinees. Cheaper, less crowded, and I don't have to share my popcorn. Lunch alone with a good book/ magazine is also a treat. My friends think I'm nuts and I do go out with them as well sometimes, but why do others seem so allergic to going out in public by yourself?

At 3/19/2007 11:20 AM, Blogger Annette Lyon said...

If I think ahead to whatever scene I'll be writing next, snatch those 20 minutes here and there and pound out even a partial scene on my trusty AlphaSmart Neo while I wait in the dance class lobby or in the parking lot. Or I'll bring along a book to read. My husband listens to books on his iPod and has a monthly subscription to, which allows him to download books every month, and he still owns all the ones he's already downloaded, so he can listen to them again any time. He's currently relistening to the Robert Jordan Wheel of Time series. I'm s-l-o-w-l-y going through that one. Excellent series, but I'm a slow reader, and it's long!

At 3/19/2007 5:07 PM, Blogger Evil HR Lady said...

Sariah, I feel your pain. Small talk drives me insane.

Do you know what I hate most? Birthday parties for 3 year olds. The Offspring gets invited to every party for her classmates. I don't know any of the other mothers, because Evil Marketing Man picks her up and takes her to pre-school. But, I get to to go the parties.

And stand around, eating florescent pink frosting off a princess cake, wishing I could go home.


At 3/19/2007 5:44 PM, Blogger Jennifer said...

I am terrible with small talk and have the double problem that I am hard of hearing so if more than one person is talking I can't understand what people are saying. I am always carrying a good book but I also like to listen to music on my I-pod, especially the LDS Music podcasts.


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