When little Natalie was almost two, her entire future hinged on how well she performed during the succession of 30-40 minute play auditions for Brooklyn's private pre-schools.
A veritable Burgess Meredith to Natalie's Rocky, dad Tom Roston accompanied his daughter and then wrote about the whole crazy thing--after she got accepted, of course, and even then, he only mentioned Natalie's safety by name:
Many New York private schools use the system of assembling applicants in a room and observing them at play, which helps them decide whom to accept. It is as hard-fought an event as can be, given that the combatants are soft as kittens, walk like drunk Hobbits, and can be entranced by butterflies.Rotson writes to entertain; not even the most disastrously over-coached kid has an inkling of what shallowness is. Teachers do, though, and I'd guess they can see pretty quickly if a kid's being raised with psychopathic tendencies like his M&A-dealing banker parents, or if he's being treated like an organ grinder's monkey, performing meaningless memorized tricks. Anyone who has a clue about what pre-school teachers and admissions people look for in this situation, please feel free to chime in.
I know that parents willing to subject their children to such a process must seem shallow. I myself have always snickered at Texas moms who drag their daughters to beauty pageants. And now I feel you quietly judging me. But go ahead, because this is the only game in town. And my kid is going to win it.
Natalie's Triumph [nyt]