Earlier this week, I hosted the first playgroup/luncheon in our new house. Actually, this gathering represented several firsts: my first chance to play hostess in my new house, my first time to host a playgroup, and the first time the babies had friends over and had to share their toys. Even with all these firsts, maybe because of all of them, everyone had a great time. There weren’t too many fists or toys thrown (you can’t expect none with seven children under the age of three in one house).
The best part for me was the fact that all five of us moms were able to stand in the kitchen to eat while the kids sat around the kitchen table. That may not sound like a big deal to most people, but for those of you who (1) know me and how much I love to cook and entertain and (2) witnessed the devastating loss of kitchen space that occurred when we moved from Birmingham to the rental here in Shreveport, having that many people in my kitchen again was simply wonderful.
After eating our fill of pizza, cookies, and brownies, we all retired to the babies’ playroom. This room is much smaller, but we still all fit. The kids (mine included) had a grand time playing with all the toys that have accumulated over the last few months. I’m pretty sure that Mac and Omi are now the coolest kids in the neighborhood because they have a tent set up in their playroom. (One of the little boys asked his mom, as they were leaving, “Can we come back tomorrow?”)
So, a great time was had by all. However, one point of conversation bothered me. As we were sitting in the playroom, I overheard one of the moms with older children encouraging another mom (of a three-year-old) to have her son tested as soon as possible. Being nosy, I asked what kind of tests little Ben needed. As it turns out, nothing is wrong with Ben, the moms were just discussing which magnet school he would be attending. Thinking that I had misunderstood, I said “Oh, you mean for later?” The mom responded, “No, for kindergarten.”
A magnet kindergarten?! Still thinking that I was missing something, I asked for further clarification. Apparently, no one sends their kids to the local neighborhood school in Shreveport. I was told that I really should have Mac and Omi tested by the time they’re four, if I want them to get into a good magnet elementary program. Had I been secretly transported to a playgroup in a rich, suburban, Northeastern town (no offense to all of you who live in such towns!)? I seriously thought these kinds of ideas only happened in movies or in the aforementioned areas. But I was mistaken.
Seeing as how we chose our house based primarily on its proximity to the local elementary school (which, by the way, is one of the best in the city), I doubt there will be any testing of my babies. Besides, what tests can they possibly give to a four-year-old that can adequately measure his aptitude for future years? The very idea is ridiculous. I want my babies to enjoy their childhood as much as possible, not to begin stressing over test scores when they’ve barely mastered using a fork.