We’ve received a placement offer in the mail for Maki to attend a local kindergarten next year but it’s not our first preference and so I’m feeling determined to reject it and hold out in the hope that we’ll receive an offer for our preferred kindergarten – where Maki and his brothers have been attending for the past eight years – but because I’m worried that Maki will miss out all together, I decide to ring the council to see if they can give me any info.
Maki, who’s being his usual chatty sing-songy self follows me down to the study and so I throw the iPad at him and say, ‘You can play this for ten minutes while I make an important phone call.'
After dialling the number I mistakenly think I'm listening to a recording because the man who answers my call sounds like the Muppet Guy Smiley speaking through a microphone.
‘G’day,’ I say, after I cotton on to the fact that I'm talking to a live human. ‘Could I speak with the Kindergarten Enrolment Officer?’
‘What is it you’re inquiring about?’ he says.
‘Um... its about my son Maki and his placement for four-year-old kinder next year. We’ve received a second round offer from a kinder that’s not our first preference and we’re probably going to reject it because we want him to go to our first preference, which is the kindergarten his brothers have gone to for the past seven years. We know all the teachers there and they’re like part of our extended family.’
‘Right, well we can’t give you any advice on this,’ he says, as Maki walks over, holding out the iPad, frowning.
‘Our policy has changed and we can’t tell people where their child is on a particular waiting list.’
‘Dad,’ Maki says, pointing at the search box in YouTube. ‘Can you find the white dog one? I wanna watch the white dog one.’
‘I can’t right now Maki,’ I schrisper*, holding the phone away from us for a moment.
‘So the decision you make about rejecting the second round offer or not has to be completely up to you…’ Guy Smiley says.
‘I wanna watch the white dog one,’ Maki says, whining, fake crying, throwing his head back like he’s been walking through the desert for hours without water and is just so thirsty.
‘No,’ I say to Maki. ‘You have to wait.’
‘If you reject the offer,’ Guy Smiley continues. ‘You’ll have to wait and see what happens with the third round offers, which will be mailed out on the 22nd.’
‘Yeah,’ I say, redirecting my focus, hoping that Maki will redirect his. ‘So I was talking to two of the teachers at our preferred kinder and they told me that they’d had a cancellation and that there was a child on the waiting list who was going to be offered a placement there for next year. They rang you guys to find out if it was Maki who was on the waiting list but you guys wouldn’t tell them if it was him or not. Probably because of your new policy.’
‘Yes, we can’t tell people if a particular child is on a particular waiting list.’
‘Daddy,’ Maki says, pretend crying, bending over like he’s dying of cancer and holding the iPad towards me like it’s his last will and testimony.
‘No,’ I schrisper again, taking the iPad and placing it on the carpet at my feet and slide-flinging it to the other side of the room.
‘Okay,’ I say to Guy Smiley. ‘So can you put me through to the Kindergarten Enrolment Officer? I just want to ask her if Maki is the child at the top of the waiting list for our preferred kinder. I’m his Dad.’
‘Sorry, we just can’t do that. We used to do that but we can’t do that now because it’s against our policy.’
Maki has collected the iPad and he’s walking over frowning, lips pursed. When he reaches the computer chair I’m sitting in he waits to catch my eye and says, ‘I’m going to kill you when I get higher.’
‘Yeah, of course,’ I say to Guy again. ‘So, it would just be really great to know if Maki was the child on the top of the waiting list for our preferred kinder. It would inform our decision on whether we should reject the second round offer and wait for the third round offer... or not.’ After a long pause where Guy Smiley remains eerily silent, I say, ‘We just really love this kinder.'
‘I’m going to kill you when I get higher.’
‘You mean bigger,’ I say, holding the phone away again. ‘You’re going to kill me when you get bigger.’
‘How do you spell your son’s name?’ Guy Smiley says.
‘Maki,’ I say. ‘M – A – K – I.’
‘Hang on a minute.’
A minute passes until Guy returns. ‘Hello, are you there?’
‘Yes, I’m here,’ I say.
‘Okay, I can’t tell you who’s at the top of the waiting list or give any advice along those lines because it’s against our policy but I can say that the information you’ve given me is correct.’
‘Do you mean the information the teachers from our preferred kinder gave me?’ I say, feeling a little rush of excitement. ‘That’s the information that’s correct?’
‘Yes, I can say with 99.9% confidence that the information is correct. But I can’t say that, do you understand?’
‘So, even though Maki is at the top of the waiting list for our preferred kinder, you can’t tell me that?’
‘I can’t tell you that,’ he says.
“So, you can’t say that Maki is at the top of the waiting list for our preferred kindergarten… but he is at the top the waiting list for our preferred kindergarten?’
‘Yes, he is.’
‘Thanks. I really appreciate it,’ I say, thinking immediately of Katy Perry – she’s telling me I’m a firework and I’m ready to roar like a tiger.
‘We did it!’ I scream, after hanigng up the phone, as I leap from the computer chair, arms raised. ‘Maki! You got into your kinder! You’re going to the same kinder next year!’
‘I’m gunna kill you when I get bigger,’ Maki says.
‘That’s much better,’ I say, rustling the hair on the top of his head, and then tickling his belly to hear him squeal.
* A cross between a scream and a whisper.