I’m mad at the PTA. So it’s probably a good thing I can’t make it to the school’s silent auction fundraiser tomorrow night.
To be fair, it’s not the entire PTA I’m mad at. Some of my best friends are members.
But I’m not.
Long before Annabelle started kindergarten, I swore I would never join the PTA. I know better. The main reason: I don’t do well in groups. I get in enough fights, just living day to day; I don’t need to invite more.
Plus, I work. I feel guilty constantly — if I’m at work, I’m feeling guilty for not being home. If I’m home, vice versa. So I’ll miss work to volunteer in my kids’ class, but no way am I going to miss dinner with my kids to sit in the smelly cafeteria and listen to moms yell at each other over whether we need to have a school directory. (That fight went on for most of the last school year, no kidding.)
Hey, I’ll donate to the cause — just about any cause. I’ll make 65 teacher appreciation gifts, I’ll battle the copy machine to make double-sided, stapled copies for second grade math, I’ll help dozens of kindergarteners glue bats and pumpkins to Halloween banners — just don’t make me join the PTA.
(There’s a thoroughly entertaining back story to our particular school’s PTA that will be written about someday — but you won’t believe it.)
Anyhow, for all my brash talk, I’m sensitive about my lack of participation. That guilt thing again. So when I got an email from a PTA member last fall, asking for ideas about where the PTA’s money could go, I almost didn’t respond. Who am I to make such a request? I thought.
But it was too important not to speak up. I wrote a very nice (I thought) email about the fact that at lunchtime recess, there is one adult overseeing 90 kindergarteners.
No, you didn’t read that wrong. One to 90. At the other recesses, the teachers are present. But the union insists they get a half hour for lunch (well deserved!), so they’re not on the playground then. Some random person — the school counselor or speech therapist or library aide — is called on to serve as the one and only duty.
I’ve written about this before. When I confronted the principal, she insisted that there’s never been a problem, that the one duty is trained to use a walkie talkie. Whoops! That particular day there happened to be a duty at the table with the principal and me who had never been given a walkie talkie. Yeah, it got ugly.
Walkie talkie or not, 1 to 90? Really?
The PTA mom emailed right back, sounding horrified. She didn’t know! I don’t blame her for that. I didn’t realize it when Annabelle was in kindergarten. It was only when Sophie, with her extra need for supervision, started kindergarten that it became an issue. (And a whole other story.)
That PTA mom is one of the organizers of the auction. So when the auction packet came home (yes, an entire packet — these women set up a myspace page for the auction, an email account for the auction, and a FAQ page about the auction) with a list of places the money might go, I expected to see “lunchtime recess duty” on there.
(And trust me, it would be possible to do it. I know parents from several other schools where the PTA funds lunchtime recess aides. Turns out there’s no state law — not here, anyway — and no federal law, mandating playground ratios at schools. Crazy!)
No. Instead, the list of a dozen or so ideas for where the money raised at the auction might go include: interactive zoo encounter/demonstration; “myth buster” science guy program; outdoor adventures; guest artists and performances; and Family Astronomy Night.
You know, I’d love to have a family astronomy night. It sounds lovely. But call me crazy — I think keeping the freaking kindergarteners alive at lunch time is a little more important.
We are in the middle of an absolute economic meltdown in this country, one that’s definitely putting a fire under our little school, and the PTA is raising money for an interactive zoo encounter?
Idiots! I still gathered some donations for the auction, but I have to admit that seeing that list kept me from trying too hard. And it’s just as well that we have a conflict tomorrow night, because I might not have behaved myself.
See why it would be a bad idea for me to join the PTA?