The parents, on the other hand, are a blessing and a curse. The blessing part is easy. They want their kids to get a good education. They don’t want to toss them into private school, not because they can’t afford it, but because they want the public schools to be successful. So, whenever there is a budge shortfall, they are out their raising money to fill the gap. It is why the school still has a librarian while most do not. The school still has music and PE and art (via parent volunteers). They do good things, so steal a phrase.
The curse of the parents is somewhat related to the small school. The gossip is out of control among the parents. There is definitely the ‘in crowd’ – it is truly like high school all over again. While most of the parents I have dealt with are organized and good communicators, the ones I hate – are the ones who think they are, but are not.
Take for example Indigo’s soccer team. Let me give a view of what it is like from the sidelines on her team.
On day one, the woman who happens to also be her class’s room mom, took down everyone’s email addresses and created an on-the-fly snack schedule. I didn’t have anything to write it down on, but she assured me it would be emailed. Kind of blew me off really.
I never got the email. When asked, I got blown off. It was speculated that she couldn’t read my handwriting. I know there are a few of you who have seen my handwriting – and know that is bullshit. I have been told countless times in my life that I should do hand lettering in books or something. My handwriting is that neat. Toss in the fact they know Indigo is the daughter of a teacher, and they could have gotten us the schedule given his email address is published everywhere!
On Saturday, we showed up to the game, and all of us noticed no one had snack. Oh, shit, I thought, it was my week. A quick consultation with all of the parents, we made the decision I would just go get snack so that the 6 year olds wouldn’t freak out about not having it. I mean, they are 6. They aren’t going to understand the whole “we forgot” thing. They want their mid game and post-game snack.
So, I took off to the local market to get snack – missing most of the first half of the game. When, I got back, I was rudely told by a parent who showed up really late, I might add, that it was her week, and I should really read my email. Ironically enough, it was the parent who was supposed to send out the email. Me being me, I told her that I didn’t receive the email to which she pretty much called me a liar. I walked away knowing I was on the verge of adding some colorful words to the exchange. (It has not been a pretty morning for me and the girls. I had already flipped out on Indigo asking if she was fucking kidding me. Walking way was for the best really.)
Immediately after this exchange, a parent who I had been talking with before the drama mentioned she wanted to sign her daughter up for Brownies. I’m starting a troop for the first graders. Upon hearing this, the rude mom comes right up – bitch switch turned off this time, and starts telling me her daughter wants to sign up too. I look right at her and say, “you should send me an email per the instructions in the newsletter so I have all of your info.” Her response, “I’ve been meaning to…” “Great, meaning to doesn’t really let me know I have enough to start a troop. Send an email.” She looked dumbfounded. This is the same lady who literally seconds before bitched me out for not having read my email using the “i meant to send you one” excuse. Hey, she has stellar emailing skills – got bitched out for not appreciating them. I figure she can use them again. (Plus, I know kids and don’t know parents – so I really need them to email me the info.)
The parent there I get along with told me that she would look for the email and send it to me. Today she did. Guess who wasn’t even on the “send to” list? Yep, me. She actually made a note of that when she forwarded me the email. I’m also a bit concerned too because if you count up the number of names for snack and compare it to the list of parents – they don’t match. Clearly there is someone else who has been left off.
In addition to the bitchy exchanges I had in an effort to make sure the 6 year olds were not screwed out of parental disorganization, I had my favorite parent tell me all about this cool program she watched about how the women’s movement destroyed education.
I guess, according to the show she watched, the women’s movement opened up opportunities for women that were better than teaching, so you had highly educated women who could only teach before leave to go become doctors, lawyers, business people, etc. The quality of women teaching declined to the point where education has suffered because they have had to hire what would have been pre-women’s movement sub-standard teachers.
I stood there a bit dumbfounded. I finally commented on the fact teachers are required (at least in Oregon) to get a shit load of education (must have a master’s degree) in addition to having the No-Child-Left-Behind fully-qualified stamp (undergrad degree in the area of specialty) – yet they are happy to make $50K a year in Portland after teaching 10 years – assuming of course, they have put in enough credits post-master’s degree. I pointed out that this doesn’t exactly make the field attractive especially after you invest that money to get that education. Many chose to use it elsewhere in more lucrative fields.
Oh, and as a side note: don’t even start with me by saying they get stellar benefits because they don’t, they get summers off which I would argue is comp time for the fact the good teachers work a LOT more than 40 hours per week during the school year, or that their retirement benefits are great because in Oregon theirs is bankrupt so teachers have to have their own to supplement the “good one”. And, I won’t got into the amount of money we have spent out of our own pocket to ensure Garbanzo had basic supplies in his classroom, a computer that is actually able to run software on it, and a projector so that he can show those fancy videos that only come on DVD and is part of the curriculum. (He wasn’t given access to a TV with DVD player.) Just don’t do it, please.
Anyway, going back to the conversation, her response upon hearing that is that if women didn’t have other opportunities or if they didn’t have a right to equal pay, then they would be happy with the pay they would get teaching. Then the schools would be better & the cost of education more affordable. I had no response other than – that’s an interesting hypothesis. She knows what I do for a living, is supportive of it as is her husband who thinks it’s freaking cool, and somehow still thinks I’m going to agree with her. Wow.
The final thing that happened during this 40 minute game occurred at the end of it. These girls are 6. No one keeps score yet. The coaches are happy if the kids score in the correct goal and maybe execute an accidental pass. Some parents, however, are keeping score – so the kids celebrated their defeat of the other team. The principal who’s daughter plays on the team steps in and tells the girls we play for fun , so let’s thank the other team for a fun game. The score doesn’t matter. The kids listen and agree – and go off to say “good game” to the other team. Then he turns to me and says loudly for all of the other parents to hear, “It amazes me how obsessed these kids get with winning at this age. I have no idea how that would happen” as he looks at the other parents in his disapproving way. I had to turn and hide my laughter. Since he and I are friends, he tends to use that friendship connection as a way of chastising the parents in situations like this one. He has found as have I that it is more effective this way.
What makes all of this funny to me is that people will ask me why I don’t get more actively involved in some of the committees and such. I am so not a person who can do drama at any level – I think I would be asked to leave the committee. Instead, I give money. It really is safer this way.