Monday, January 4, 2010

4K in Madtown

"I don't know how things will pan out. It's the first time a 4k program has been up for a vote Loretta. Don't get so anxious about it." Mildred said, casually turning over the pamphlet she received in the mail a few days ago. The literature made it sound like 4k was a dream come true for the small town, but she had her doubts.

"Yeah, but Mildred, think about the possibilities if it passes! Mikey would be in school and then I'd only have Juney home with me for another year. I can almost taste the freedom if I could get her into a 4k classroom!" Mildred wondered why Loretta so badly wanted away from her children. She was always looking for a place to drop them off, as long as it was free. She could see the draw a 4k program would have for Loretta in just that simple thought. Free childcare and the ability to wander throughout her morning.

Mildred shook her head. "Freedom? Oh honey, I think this would tie you down more. Did you even read the pamphlet? It only goes for a couple of hours four days per week." Mildred thought about putting her daughter in the program and felt confused. Her eldest would be in school so it would give her the mornings free. But at what expense? Her son didn't go to school until he was seven and it certainly benefited him.

"What do you mean tie me down Mildred? I'd have two free hours every morning. I could drop Juney off and then get stuff done!" Mildred laughed out loud. Loretta always had the best intentions, but they were more talk than action. Loretta would not use the time to get things done. She'd be at the pool flirting with lifeguards less than half her age or sound asleep in her bed. Groceries, cleaning, laundry, cooking. Those were things she hated doing and did them only at 'appropriate times' when guests were coming over. "What is so funny?"

"You are! Two free hours, huh? Did you take into consideration the 15 minutes there and back. That knocks your time to an hour and a half. Plus, whatever you do must fit into their time frame. Not your own. Are you ready to have Juney up, dressed, fed, and to school by 8:30 am? Are you even out of bed that early? Doesn't somebody else take Mikey in because it is too hard for you to do? And then you have to go back for Mikey that afternoon." Mildred was being a bit spiteful. It was all true, but she didn't need to add her lack of ability to get her son places on time into the conversation.

The phone was silent aside from the occasional odd trumpet coming from the radio. "Look Loretta. I'm sorry. There's just a lot more to think about before jumping head long into this thing for me. There is the time constraint. I'd have to deal with that too. But, there is also wondering if we are taking the kid's childhood away from them. Four years old just seems so young. I don't know. Do you remember our parents balking at sending us to kindergarten because we were so small?"

"Yeah. But they did it and it didn't hurt us any." Mildred thought about it and wondered if there was any proof in that statement. Did it hurt us? Was there anyway to know? All she knew was what her friend told her about kids not going to school until they were older and how they were some of the smartest, most capable students anywhere in the world. That's what prompted her to keep her son, Peter, home until he was seven. But that conversation was a long time ago. Her daughter was a different child altogether. Would it be more beneficial for her to go to school earlier?

"Probably not. But what do they do in a 4k classroom? I mean, if they are just going to play they can do that at my house." It was a sticking point for Mildred. She knew that it was mostly like a preschool, with much of the focus being on social skills and learning to follow rules and she knew she couldn't do as much of that at home. There were no other children for her little Teresa to play with. That would be one benefit for her daughter.

As far as the academic portion was concerned, she had been a teacher for a while and knew the ropes. Both her children knew the alphabet and how to count to 20 by the time they were two-and-a-half. They knew colors and shapes as well, but so did most children at that age. The academics she could handle. It was the social piece that made her even consider the possibility of enrolling her youngest.

"Who cares! All of the other parents want it. It's a little bit of us time. We work hard and deserve the break. Let the little ones play elsewhere. It can't be bad for them." Loretta. Always so quick to assume public preference was in the best interest of her child. She wouldn't think about it much beyond today's phone call. "None of this matters right now anyway. The vote isn't for another week. Right now, I need to figure out what I can put together for dinner and what I need to bribe my kids with to clean up. Phil will be home in an hour and the place is a mess. No rest for us mothers, you know."

Mildred looked around her spotless kitchen. The only thing out of place were the towels she had finished folding just before Loretta had called. It would only take a few minutes to run them to the linen closet. She glanced out the window over the sink. Peter and Teresa were playing on the tire swing, Pirates probably. "Bye Loretta. Good luck getting thins in order."

"Bye Mildred. Talk to you tomorrow."

The two older women hung up the phone. Mildred rubber her temples. The vote was a week away, but she had a lot to think about and her head already hurt from the complexity of the issue.


  1. This sounds like a conversation I would have with a friend of mine. She opted for Preschool for her youngest. She is not the one who takes her kids to school in the morning. It is her husband so the comment about 8:30 in the morning had me laughing.

    My only real criticism on this piece is that the term 4k would need to be changed if you wanted to have others read it and get it. When I first saw it I though of a race. as in some thing 4000 something long. I had to re start once I realized you were talking about 4-year-old-kindergarten.

  2. Oh and your names had me giggling a bit.

  3. Now you are making me re-think! I already miss Zachary!!!!!! And they didn't even vote yet!

    Nice, realistic, conversation between the friends. Nicely written so we understand what's inside the protagonist's head.

    Names confused me a little (there seemed to be quite a few names to keep track of, but eventually, I got it).

    awesome, but now, again, I might be reassessing the situation. My last baby in school? TOO SOON!!!!!