Pappy Campers

The triplets start preschool in the fall, and Lovie has decided to send them to one that’s associated with a nearby church. It has an excellent reputation, but it’s also notoriously difficult to get into.

“So how’s this gonna go down again?” I asked Lovie.

“I’ll get there Monday morning and–”

“Wait,” I interrupted. “I thought registration was Tuesday morning.”

“It is. But to make sure they get in, we need to be first in line. To do that, I have to get there on Monday.”

“So you’re gonna spend the night?” I asked in disbelief.

“No, honey. Don’t be silly.”

“Oh, good, ’cause I was gonna say–”

You’re gonna spend the night.”

*record scratch*

Lovie would establish our place in line, then I would relieve her after work. Which meant that I would spend a cold February night camping out in a church parking lot (alongside several other overzealous suckers) in hopes of getting Monster, Biggs, and Peanut into a highly coveted preschool.

Honestly? I’d rather mud wrestle with Adam Lambert. Or watch a slow-motion replay of the bronze-metal, Olympic curling match. With Rosie O’Donnell. In Afghanistan. Or maybe even pull a one-hour stint as Roseanne Barr’s thong.

All that said, I had heard several wonderful things about the program–enough to convince me that it really was a great choice for our trio. Plus, I’m a team player. So I was willing to take part in the silly charade, but that didn’t mean I wouldn’t bitch about it. Lovie provided me with my first opportunity when she called me around noon on Monday.

“Some lady told me that I needed three chairs–one for each child, and I only brought one.”

“Chairs? What are you talking about?” I asked.

“Chairs. To mark our spot in line.”

“I thought there was a sign-up sheet that marked our spot.”

“There is,” confirmed Lovie. “And since I got here first, Monster, Biggs, and Peanut are at the top of the list. But you’re supposed to put up chairs to confirm your spot on the sign-up sheet.”

“Are you supposed to rub your tummy and pat your head, too? Or sing The Wheels on the Bus in F minor? Honestly, honey, this is so stupid. Who is this lady, anyway? Another parent?”

“No. She works for a doctor who’s got a two-year-old and a four-year-old. He sent her over here to wait on their behalf, and she was told she needed two chairs.”

I wondered if the woman was questioning our legitimacy because she feared that the triplets would make it impossible for her boss’s two-year-old to get in.

“Did you tell her about the ‘Blood Only’ rule, which states that only blood-related relatives can wait in line?”

“Is that a real rule?” asked Lovie.

“Every bit as real as the bullshit ‘Chair Clause’ that Ms. Nosey Nurse threw at you.”

Ours is the one up front.

By the time I arrived at the church, Lovie had gotten to the bottom of the chair debacle. Nurse Betty was wrong. One chair was all we needed. Relieved, I collapsed the back seat of my Chevy Tahoe and prepared my make-shift bed–a camping cushion, my sleeping bag, and two pillows from home.

I spent the next couple of hours surfing the internet on my phone, wondering if one could actually perish from boredom. Until, that is, I noticed a man walking up to the sign-up sheet on the door. He looked put out. Moments later, a woman approached him. The two engaged in a brief conversation before the man abruptly walked away. Soon, several other folks were all huddled together, prompting me to see what was going on.

“What’s up, y’all?” I asked as I approached the group.

“That guy just left,” answered the woman who had been speaking to him.

“Why?”

“I don’t know. He said he was thinking about leaving, and I told him that if he did, his name would get crossed out. He said he’d like to see someone try it. Then he drove off.”

The process of elimination told us the man in question was number nine. Everyone agreed that he should be marked out, and just like that, number nine was no longer. Though the right decision was made, the preceding debate on whether or not it was fair for a grown man to temporarily vacate his spot in a twenty-four-hour line left me wondering who, exactly, the preschoolers really were in this scenario.

An hour and a half later, number nine came back, only by then, he had earned a new name. Number twelve. When he learned of his numeric demotion, he was none too happy. Thirty minutes later, he got out of his vehicle and marched briskly toward the door, marked his name off the list (yet again), and grabbed his chair. Within seconds, he had pulled out of the parking lot, never to return. Part of me was sad for him. Another part of me was proud of him for taking a stand. I drifted off to sleep, ultimately uncertain as to how I felt about the entire ordeal.

the scene mere minutes before the 7:30 registration.

Until I woke up. For that morning, I saw things from a different perspective. I had endured an unpleasant night (with the help of a bourbon drink courtesy of number eleven), and was suddenly mere minutes away from our ultimate goal–procuring three spots at a fantastic preschool for Monster, Biggs, and Peanut. The other parents and I engaged in jovial conversations as we waited for those final minutes to pass — conversations which were accentuated by energetic tones that belied the dark circles under our eyes.

The unpleasant night was over, and it had suddenly transcended into a badge of honor–one that my love for the triplets had compelled me to earn–one which I wore proudly for the rest of the day. Don’t get me wrong. I’ll never be good with that process. I feel strongly that it needs to be changed. At best, it’s childish. At worst, it has the potential to turn ugly. But if enduring such a process benefits my children? I’ll do it a hundred nights in a row.

That still doesn’t mean I won’t bitch about it, though.

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About john cave osborne

John Cave Osborne is a writer whose work has appeared on such sites as DisneyBaby, Babble, YahooShine, TLC and the Huffington Post. He was also referenced by Jezebel one time, but he’s pretty sure they were making fun of him. He and his wife, Caroline, live with their five children and spastic dog in Knoxville, TN. Nothing annoys him more than joke-heavy bios written in the third person, with the possible exception of Corey Feldman.

  • http://worldofweasels.blogspot.com WeaselMomma

    That’s nuts! It’s flipping pre-school! For two year olds! They can’t be teaching rocket science and calculus to these kids.

    I’m sure it’s a good school and yes, you get 1st priority for future years, but sleeping outside in line for 24 hrs seems ridiculous for a place where the trips will eat snacks, crayons and glue 2-3x a week.

    Good for you for going all out for them. Me, I’m a slacker and didn’t send my kids until they were 3 or 4.

  • http://worldofweasels.blogspot.com WeaselMomma

    That’s nuts! It’s flipping pre-school! For two year olds! They can’t be teaching rocket science and calculus to these kids.

    I’m sure it’s a good school and yes, you get 1st priority for future years, but sleeping outside in line for 24 hrs seems ridiculous for a place where the trips will eat snacks, crayons and glue 2-3x a week.

    Good for you for going all out for them. Me, I’m a slacker and didn’t send my kids until they were 3 or 4.

  • http://www.tempestbeauty.com Mandy

    Wow. Are you telling me I should probably already know what school I want to enroll Ronan in? Because, if that is the case, I’m WAY behind.

    I don’t imagine my husband camping out anywhere, for any school. You get the daddy of the year award, seriously.

  • http://www.tempestbeauty.com Mandy

    Wow. Are you telling me I should probably already know what school I want to enroll Ronan in? Because, if that is the case, I’m WAY behind.

    I don’t imagine my husband camping out anywhere, for any school. You get the daddy of the year award, seriously.

  • http://thegoodthebadtheworse.blogspot.com Linda Medrano

    Either you get the Daddy of the Century Award, or you should be checked into the closest mental hospital. The jury is still out on that one! Seriously, this is wonderful and hilarious too! Love it!

  • http://thegoodthebadtheworse.blogspot.com Linda Medrano

    Either you get the Daddy of the Century Award, or you should be checked into the closest mental hospital. The jury is still out on that one! Seriously, this is wonderful and hilarious too! Love it!

  • http://www.holymolytoledos.blogspot.com susy

    I think you could get that chance to mud-wrestle Adam L. if you send him “that picture” you posted hugging the pillow. LOL!! But seriously, while it seems like a lot to do, I’m glad you got through it ok!

  • http://www.holymolytoledos.blogspot.com susy

    I think you could get that chance to mud-wrestle Adam L. if you send him “that picture” you posted hugging the pillow. LOL!! But seriously, while it seems like a lot to do, I’m glad you got through it ok!

  • http://jugglingeric.blogspot.com Eric

    That’s some crazy stuff. This isn’t a yearly requirement for next year as well is it?

    And the irony of drinking alcohol in front of a pre-school is GREAT!!!

  • http://jugglingeric.blogspot.com Eric

    That’s some crazy stuff. This isn’t a yearly requirement for next year as well is it?

    And the irony of drinking alcohol in front of a pre-school is GREAT!!!

  • http://mytwinsforlife.blogspot.com/ HT

    Wow. That is so crazy. It just once again underscores in what dire straits our educational system is. All schools should be “good” schools with quality education.

    I might soon have to overnight in a queue of my own getting my kids enrolled in a quality kindergarten program.

  • http://mytwinsforlife.blogspot.com/ HT

    Wow. That is so crazy. It just once again underscores in what dire straits our educational system is. All schools should be “good” schools with quality education.

    I might soon have to overnight in a queue of my own getting my kids enrolled in a quality kindergarten program.

  • http://ifmomsaysok.wordpress.com Tara R.

    Amateur! I got a job at the college where the Early Childhood Development pre-school was that I wanted my son to attend. 24-hours? Pshaw! I kid… I did work there, but it was a total coincidence… (that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.)

    But, really, the things we do for our children, and to think they won’t appreciate it until they have kids of their own.

  • http://ifmomsaysok.wordpress.com Tara R.

    Amateur! I got a job at the college where the Early Childhood Development pre-school was that I wanted my son to attend. 24-hours? Pshaw! I kid… I did work there, but it was a total coincidence… (that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.)

    But, really, the things we do for our children, and to think they won’t appreciate it until they have kids of their own.

  • http://surprisedmom.blogspot.com SurprisedMom

    Compared to you I am a MAJOR slacker.

    The oldest didn’t go to preschool until she was three. That was a park district preschool. Then when she was four I was going to send her to a private preschool. They told me they would put her on a list. I promptly went to another school where they welcomed her with open arms. She graduated from that school 10 years later. The youngest was easier. I just signed her up (by then I was on the school board) and she was accepted at three because by then they had a three-year-old preschool. She graduated from there 11 years later.

    However, this does not mean I don’t admire you for your perseverance. I do. You should wear a “I’m a great daddy button” publically and proudly.

  • http://surprisedmom.blogspot.com SurprisedMom

    Compared to you I am a MAJOR slacker.

    The oldest didn’t go to preschool until she was three. That was a park district preschool. Then when she was four I was going to send her to a private preschool. They told me they would put her on a list. I promptly went to another school where they welcomed her with open arms. She graduated from that school 10 years later. The youngest was easier. I just signed her up (by then I was on the school board) and she was accepted at three because by then they had a three-year-old preschool. She graduated from there 11 years later.

    However, this does not mean I don’t admire you for your perseverance. I do. You should wear a “I’m a great daddy button” publically and proudly.

  • http://clarkkentslunchbox.blogspot.com/ Clark Kent’s Lunchbox

    Spent the night waiting for the doors to open and you didn’t even get the latest video game machine on the market? That has got to be one heck of a daycare, but if means being able to trust someone with your babies, it’s totally worth it.

    You are a great dad. #12 totally personifies those parents who put appeasing their discomfort over their children’s. Would’ve liked to have seen his wife’s face when he walked through the door with nothing to show for it.

    Great story.

    (but Rosanne’s thong? The visual made me both laugh and gag.)

  • http://clarkkentslunchbox.blogspot.com/ Clark Kent’s Lunchbox

    Spent the night waiting for the doors to open and you didn’t even get the latest video game machine on the market? That has got to be one heck of a daycare, but if means being able to trust someone with your babies, it’s totally worth it.

    You are a great dad. #12 totally personifies those parents who put appeasing their discomfort over their children’s. Would’ve liked to have seen his wife’s face when he walked through the door with nothing to show for it.

    Great story.

    (but Rosanne’s thong? The visual made me both laugh and gag.)

  • http://liayf.blogspot.com Seattledad (Luke, I am Your Fa

    That’s insane. Glad you survived though, and it made for a great post.

    I’m with Ron – laughing ang gaging here.

  • http://liayf.blogspot.com Seattledad (Luke, I am Your Father)

    That’s insane. Glad you survived though, and it made for a great post.

    I’m with Ron – laughing ang gaging here.

  • http://wwwjackbenimble.blogspot.com/ Jack

    Or maybe even pull a one-hour stint as Roseanne Barr’s thong.

    If you are going to make me visualize a train wreck I am going to make you watch with me. Damn, damn, damn, first three beers are on you.

    In fact if we should accidentally run into Roseanne, Tom Arnol or anything else that makes me remember that image dinner and beers are on you.

    I suppose that means that you did a very fine job with this piece and I congratulate you for it. 😉 I wouldn’t have waited all night for a spot in a church, but then again I am the Jewish kid. 😉

    If I had to list things that were harder than I expected school would be right up there. I was ready for many things, but not school. Just never occurred to me that it would be such a PITA.

  • http://wwwjackbenimble.blogspot.com/ Jack

    Or maybe even pull a one-hour stint as Roseanne Barr’s thong.

    If you are going to make me visualize a train wreck I am going to make you watch with me. Damn, damn, damn, first three beers are on you.

    In fact if we should accidentally run into Roseanne, Tom Arnol or anything else that makes me remember that image dinner and beers are on you.

    I suppose that means that you did a very fine job with this piece and I congratulate you for it. 😉 I wouldn’t have waited all night for a spot in a church, but then again I am the Jewish kid. 😉

    If I had to list things that were harder than I expected school would be right up there. I was ready for many things, but not school. Just never occurred to me that it would be such a PITA.

  • #11

    Funny recap of the camp out John. Glad I found your entertaining blog. All this time I thought the dents on our cars were from my wife. I’ll have to ask her to stop parking near yours.

  • #11

    Funny recap of the camp out John. Glad I found your entertaining blog. All this time I thought the dents on our cars were from my wife. I’ll have to ask her to stop parking near yours.