Friday, September 11, 2009

Sticker Shock

First of all I have to stop with these 3am blog posts, but it appears I now have a touch of insomnia. I lie awake, my head swimming with details "remember to clean out the hall closet before Sunday", "I wonder where on earth we are we going to put the spice rack in our new-no-space-what-so-ever-kitchen? " and a big one "How are we going to afford all of this?" It's never ending. I can't seem to shut it off.

So how are we going to afford this new California life? When we arrived in Oakland for our house hunting trip I was fully prepared to be appalled by the cost of housing, so seeing the price tags on the nothing-special homes didn't shock me. It's a fact of life that we are going to pay more for less. It stinks to see the new bigger paycheck get eaten up just with the basics. What I wasn't ready for was the cost of other necessities. One shining example is preschool. Yesterday I began the process of searching for a new school for Zack. Zack has been in some sort of daycare or educational program since he was three months old, he enjoys it, and we both benefit from shall we say,some needed space. He will be four in a few weeks, so no preschool is simply not an option, particularly if I am to remain a functioning member of our society, rather than being locked away in the nuthouse.

I found a program that I was excited about at the JCC, a mile from our new home. It sounded like a solid school, with the added reward of joining a real community. After leaving the administrator numerous messages, I finally connected with the less-than-friendly woman. She didn't have the time of day for my questions. She seemed exasperated when I asked about openings, class size and registration. Hello? Don't you want to fill up your partially empty classroom? Finally I inquired about the tuition that we would be required to pay for the privilege of attending. The lady didn't miss a beat "$850 per month, and we require a one year commitment". Excuse me? Did she say $850 per month? Are we talking about a half day preschool? You know the place you drop your four year old off for a whopping three hours a day? The place where they draw a few pictures, run around on the playground, eat a few graham crackers, mess up their new clothes and then leave at lunch time? Is there something extra special about the JCC preschool that I might be missing? Are the teachers Nobel prize winners? Are they serving brie and shrimp cocktail for snack? Trying to hide my disbelief I asked the lovely administrator if this is an unusually high priced school. I inform her that here in Denver the cost for Zack's early education is less than $400 per month. She pretty much slaps me with the "your not in Denver anymore sweetheart" speech and we hang up agreeing to meet when I arrive in Berkeley.

After researching other are schools I have come to find that in fact, $850 per month is about the average. You can't find much cheaper, but you can certainly find more expensive-I looked at some programs with an annual tuition fee of $13000 for 15 hours per week.

Mama's gonna have to get a job.

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