For the first time in my life, I'm so very glad not to reside in the Big Apple. Enrolling my children into a preschool program was a breeze. Toured 'em, asked 'em some questions and picked the one that looks the best and is geographically convenient. Done.
Oh, to have it so easy.
There are countless benefits to raising a family in New York City, most notably easy access to the arts and culture that surround you. Access to the city's private preschools however, is another matter.
Nursery University is a spellbinding new documentary that follows 5 Manhattan families as they navigate the preschool waters and jockey for position on a variety of waiting lists. The film is utterly captivating, especially for those who have spent anytime at all contemplating their own child's potential. For the well-to-do in NYC, the proper nursery school is seen as the first brick in a path that will most certainly lead to an Ivy League collegiate experience. Some pay up to $20,000 per school year for their 3-year-old to build blocks and finger paint. The privilege of cutting such a check comes only after months of speed-dial phone calls, interviews, essays and prayer.
The film does a wonderful job of showing that a parent's entry into the preschool enrollment war zone is, at the end of the day, about love, even if the ultra-competitive spirit exhibited makes you want to hurl. Throughout the film, parental pride is on display for all to see and, often, to cringe at. Every parent has been there, I know I have. Be it in a doctor's office or at the grocery store, we want our kids to show off their newly acquired skills for the world to marvel at - Trevor knows all his colors; Samantha can count to 10 all by herself. Kids being kids, they won't always perform on queue and those moments, captured brilliantly in Nursery University, can be agonizing.
Personally, I'm over it. I don't care if the nurse, cashier or anyone else knows what my kid can say or do. For the stressed out Manhattan parent on those preschool interviews, they certainly want, and feel as though they need, their pride to be felt by others. After all, their offspring's Ivy-walled scholastic future may very well depend on it.
Nursery University is funny and heartwarming. You'll cheer for the underdogs from Harlem, who are unsure how they will pay for their son's education should they even make the cut. You may even feel compassion for investment bankers...maybe, just a little. The kids will charm you, even if the adults, school execs and nursery school consultants (those helping families make sense of the process, for the paltry sum of $4k!) make you want to scream.
Nursery University is highly recommended. Buy it or rent it today.