Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The PTCO (Parents That Can't Overachieve)

After being exposed to the school system for six years now, I have observed that there are basically three main kinds of parent school volunteers. First, there are the laissez faire who prefer that the school do everything. They don’t particularly care whether their child has juice, popcorn and games for their Christmas party unless other parents happen to be coordinating it. Second, there are the MWDE’s, or the “Moms Who Do Everything”. These parents spend several hours a week at the school grading papers, decorating the hallways, organizing the library etc. They coordinate movie nights and other fundraisers trying to sell you a loaf of bread for ten dollars or wrapping paper for three times what you could get it for at the store. These are the parents who take off work so they can not only make sure that their children have juice and popcorn for their holiday party, but so they can spend the whole day with their child at school. I do not understand these people and quite frankly, I feel guilty in their presence.

The third category of parents tend to exercise what I feel to be a reasonable balance. They don’t take a vacation day to hand out sugar cookies but they show up when they can to be of service. I mostly fall into this category, but not very nobly because I happen to resent it. If I were to live authentically I would courageously admit that I have the strongest tendencies toward being a category one parent volunteer. For starters, I don’t remember a parent volunteer ever being in any classroom of mine growing up and yet we still managed to create a highly productive and nurtured generation (if I do say so myself). And let me be perfectly honest so as to create a few enemies, I also don’t care if my child is privy to holiday parties. If they’re going to have three hours on the last day of school to do nothing but eat cupcakes and watch a movie, I would rather take them home than have to show up and disperse said cupcakes with a dollop of frosting and a plastic knife.

And just in case I didn’t have enough to feel hostile about I have learned since my oldest child started school that they sell YEARBOOKS for ELEMENTARY schools now. Whether you agree with me on anything else I have said here, am I alone to think this is absurd? Over the past few years my daughter has requested that I purchase a copy of these yearbooks and I have refused on the simple grounds of staying true to my principles. And because I think it’s a waste of money. And because in two more years she won’t care anymore. And because if they were selling used gum wrappers she still would have wanted me to buy them.

So you can imagine how perplexing it is when I consider the hours and hours I have spent over the last couple of weeks trying to perfect the pages of our yearbook for a February deadline. A hypocrite extraordinaire, I was persuaded by an MWDE to help out and I am now officially in charge of the creative portion (or as my partner in crime put it, “the fun part”) of our 2006-07 elementary school yearbook. This MWDE is a better person than I am for several reasons, most notably in this case because she cares that her son has a decent yearbook to document his final elementary year. As for me, I will do my best to fulfill my commitment for the year and practice not being motivated by guilt. Ha. Wish me luck.


Anonymous said...

SOOOO get this!!!! I get so bugged every year at yearbook time. I told my two that they can get one their last year. I figure it is just an extension of middle school anyway. Until then, those class pictures will have to suffice!

Kerri said...

When I was a kid, no yearbooks, but those class pictures with all the kids names on them. I have to admit, I've used the yearbook from last year to learn the names of some of the kids I "cross over" every morning and afternoon, as well as the names of some of the teachers and aides who all seem to know mine so I don't look like a blithering idiot. It's come in handy, so I can't complain this year.