By Laura Weisskopf Bleill
So about that post last week. Yes, my husband and I are two of those parents (if you haven’t already guessed) going through the kindergarten assignment lottery process in Champaign Unit 4 schools.
We consider ourselves “lucky.” We have two excellent “Proximity A” schools for our daughter, and we’ve hoping we’ll be able to send her to one of them. We have, they say, an 80 percent chance of getting that school. My husband — an avid horseplayer — was quick to remind me that those are some pretty good odds.
That said, I have another issue in which she won’t have good odds – and that’s having another Jewish child in her grade. Did I just say that out loud? Yes, I did. The truth of the matter is, this is one of my biggest concerns when it comes to placing my child into kindergarten.
Silly? Perhaps. As much as I can “control” managing our “best outcome” as much as possible within the school lottery system — the aforementioned 80 percent — I have absolutely zero control over it. Well, I guess I do. It’s not too late to move to Urbana!
Today I saw a Jewish friend who doesn’t ever have to fret about this issue. Why? Because she has twins. So her kids will always have another Jewish child – albeit their sibling — in class together. Jokes aside, it is a concern to both of us. And a conundrum not solved easily. Of course there are only so many of us in the community; I know of less than a dozen Jewish children who will be entering kindergarten in the fall throughout greater Champaign-Urbana.
So why am I worried about that? Well, there’s strength in numbers. But really, sometimes it’s hard enough to fit in without having to worry about being singled out because of something that makes you very different from everyone else. Not that she’ll be the only who is different, of course. And perhaps this is just an “insert your difference here” kind of issue. We’re not so unusual.
I know that my daughter is very proud of who she is, and has no problem telling the world. I guess I’m worried about the world not accepting her for who she is. Really it’s the fear of the unknown. As a child, I never had such problems. I went to a public school where Jews were the majority – an anomaly, to be sure.
You might be thinking, if it was so important to me that my kid have Jews in her class, than we should have moved to a bigger Jewish community. Of course, the odds would be better. But that’s not our reality. So I’m trying to work through these issues.
Perhaps they’re just a proxy to the deep-seeded uncertainty that many of us who are going through this process are feeling.
We all have the one thing that keeps us awake at night.
Now you know mine. What’s yours?
Laura Weisskopf Bleill, a co-founder of chambanamoms.com, is already dreading next year’s winter holidays — and it’s not even March. She writes “Being a Jew in C-U,” a column about being a Jewish suburban girl in a cornfield. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.