Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Dirty Politics of the PTA

I'm exhausted. I spent my day off yesterday running around, constantly. Picking up groceries for the house, dropping off and picking up the kid, cooking, cleaning. And I went to my first room parent meeting. I was unsure exactly what a 'room parent' was, and I'm still not positive. There are three room parents for every grade, and the school teaches grades K4 through 8th, so there were quite a few parents there. All mothers, interestingly enough.

I was nervous, but Sister Patricia, the principal, was supposed to lead the meeting and was late, so there was time for conversation. I met some very nice people, very good-natured, very funny. I am an assistant room parent, much to my relief - I have no desire whatsoever to be in charge. The meeting opened up with a prayer, and then Sister laid down the law about class parties and school parties - when, why, what you can bring, etc.. They require healthy foods for their 'wellness curriculum', or else they lose their federal funding. I was intrigued that a private catholic school receives federal funding, but since my daughter attends said school I am grateful.

There was much made over some changes instituted by the new parish priest. If your ears burn when people talk about you, this poor man's ears must have been on fire, because there was much talk, and most of it unfavorable. Sister was quite the diplomat, and finally, after a certain point, just starting repeating, "He's the parish priest and this is his church and his school". She acknowledged the changes, and that many of them did, indeed, suck (although I'm certain she didn't actually use the word 'suck'), but said that anytime she encounters a brick wall she tries to paint it pretty.

Sister then left and turned the meeting over to the poor woman in charge of the room parents, a very nice woman who also happens to be Jacelyn's girl scout leader (I got the distinct impression that she prefers four and five year olds to room parents, and who could blame her? The kids behave better and are nicer to each other). She opened a discussion about teacher birthdays that turned into the biggest and most ridiculous hullabaloo I've ever seen. People were raising their voices, and stating the same thing over and over in whiny tones of voice. I was aghast. Over birthdays. The discussion had reached a fevered pitch when the bell rang and the intercom came on and the school secretary started the afternoon prayers. Everyone sort of begrudgingly crossed themselves and bowed their heads. It was a prayer of contrition, and I couldn't help but smile - surely these people would be rational after this. But I was wrong. They picked right up where they left off, complaining about mugs and cupcakes and gifts.

I had to leave to get Jacelyn, so I skipped out, slightly horrified. They are all nice people, don't get me wrong, but that was my first experience with school politics, and it has wounded me, slightly. Nothing was accomplished. It felt like one of those reality shows where there is a team of women and they manage to do nothing because they are constantly arguing amongst themselves. I kept looking around for cameras. It was kind of surreal. So I still don't know what I'm expected to do.

I do know that I want a "'06-'07 St. John's Volunteer" key chain lanyard with my name on it, so I'm going to be on my best and most helpful behaviour. Need some help? Sure! How 'bout one of those lanyards? I would even take one without my name on it. It's funny, what can drive you. I would probably never wear it, and my keys weigh about four pounds so I would certainly never put keys on it, but man, do I want one. Baaaaaad.

Oh, and also, I learned a valuable lesson about first impressions and making assumptions about people. There was a woman whom I first met last week at Jacelyn's girl scout meeting that I took an immediate dislike to. Then, working with her at the meeting and talking to her last night at Girl Scouts, I learned a lot more about her and it turns out she's a nice person with a lot to say and a lot to offer. So, lesson learned.

Now for coffee and work. I'm auditing the files our horrid billing company sent us for 2005 band rentals (see Jen the batch queen's blog), so I need lots of coffee and possibly a valium. Or a good stiff drink. And a valium.

1 comment:

Jen said...

I can offer a Lortab...would that help? :) Thanks for getting that pile of bullcrap organized into something more appealing.