Saturday, May 12, 2012

Two Father's Days Instead

I had comments and replies with a good friend over my school fundraising rant and got to talk with her and one of the main powers behind my daughter's Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) today.  Boy did I feel like a jerk.  Although, actually, I kind of expected to have more people rake me over the coals, I do have some teacher friends.  Maybe they're too angry.   I got the teacher appreciation week thing cleared-up, my daughter was to bring an item each day for her homeroom teacher and whatever special she had for that day, so two items, not seven.  BIG difference.  I wonder why I just assumed that my understanding, though it seemed over the top to me, was correct?  It's not like I couldn't've called my friend to check.... I just jumped straight to feeling put out.  I guess I feel so out of step with regular non-narcissistic moms that I can't judge what's a realistic expectation of parental participation.

So I'm talking to these way-plugged-in moms this afternoon about the school and the PTO and all of that and found out that our school office HAS NO PAPER.  I mean, I knew they had a wish list for stuff and all, but I just didn't get it that the straits were that dire!  That is OUTRAGEOUS!  Apparently also in the past teachers hadn't gotten their regular pay increases for seniority or cost-of-living increases or any payout into their retirement accounts for, like, years and finally one year stopped doing anything that was not strictly in their contract.  Sort of an altruism strike.  They actually did only what they were paid for and things changed and I think they got some of the money they were owed.  So I wondered aloud what if the PTO, which seems to be about eight parents with precious little additional help, just stopped doing what it does.  What would happen?  I think this should be figured out and told to the school community.  Say these eight get tired of working so hard and being under-appreciated, not that that's why they do it, but it doesn't help you want to continue, that they just quit?  I don't think people realize that this would mean no office supplies for the office, no bulbs for the smartboards (the county won't maintain them because apparently the school is "too old" for them or something), and other critical items like that.  I sure didn't.  The problem is, to make it so parents don't have to spend so much time fundraising for essentials, it would probably take something like that.

No paper.  Unbelievable.

We parents need to see the actual school budget (vs. the PTO budget, two different animals) and see how much they get and where it goes.  Then we need to know how to make it change.  There is money, it's just going to more vocal and influential interests.  This is unacceptable, and we have a blue-ribbon school.  What about the schools that aren't so great?

So we're talking and I'm feeling all interested in helping and had to keep reminding myself that I can't get stuff done I'm already beholden to do, I can't go adding stuff!  Maybe just a little tiny bit.  I like helping.  I've been out of touch with that, but I really do, when doing it doesn't feel like it's going to topple my world.  You know, like when I'm rational.  Talking to actual grown-up people, turns out, like this afternoon, helps a lot with the being rational thing.  As long as I'm not feeling paranoid that I'm being judged and found lacking.  The more exposure I have to real people, the more they might realize and I might realize that I'm way under par.  I think I'm afraid of that. 

My daughter is now old enough that my neuroses and mood swings and lack of function embarrass and hurt her, like not having kids over because I'm embarrassed about the condition of the house, which is a result of my not doing my job.  Hell, Mother's Day is Sunday and she's all excited about having a surprise for me.  I just feel terrible.  Like we should just skip it because I've been so cranky and mean and just not good this year, especially to her.  My husband said some time ago that it was obvious that I favor my son and that my daughter pushes all my buttons and I'm less patient with her.  He's just always been easier on me.  He's more laid back, he was my second so I wasn't so afraid (I was actually terrified of my newborn infant daughter), he wasn't colicky, and he's only three.  She's six and opinionated and stubborn and difficult and brilliant and desperate to be in charge.  Oh, and bossy.  Gee, I wonder where ever that could have come from....?  I'd thought I was being pretty even-handed and hiding how difficult it was.  Guess not so much.  I wonder if I will finally be less in love with my son when he's her age?  I was in love with her like I am with him up through age three.  Maybe his obnoxiousness is on the horizon.

I thought I had all this love and energy and purpose to share with my children.  That's why I wanted them.  Now I feel used-up all the time and I'm not even hardly doing anything more than what is absolutely required to keep social services at bay.  I'd never unwish them into being.  NEVER.  But I am not sure having kids was a good choice for me, in hindsight.  They're wonderful, but I am.... The price has been very high.  See?  We should skip Mother's Day.  My husband deserves two Father's Days instead. 

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