Monday, November 10, 2008

It's All Fun and Games Except for That One Kid




Today is Grandparents / VIP Day at the elementary school. It's really Grandparents Day and/or Whoever The Hell Else is Available to Show Up Day; which doesn't seem all that important to clarify but actually, is. See, way back in the beginning of the millennium and I was hanging onto my twenties by my fingernails and really that's not important I just wanted to say I was in my twenties, and it became necessary for Boy-Child#1 to obtain an education through the public school system; it was just plain old "Grandparents Day". Except that they discovered that quite often A) Not all children have living grandparents, B) Not all children have grandparents that live locally, and C) More often than not it was the parents themselves that attended. And people were walking around going, there sure are a lot of NOT grandparents here today.

Here is where I pull up my curmudgeon pants: I'm not much of a fan of this particular school function. Oh I can see that the PTA's hearts are in the right place and I can get behind the feel goodness and donated baked goods of it; but there's a heartbreaking component in this. And that is that because about 95% of the parents or family or the village that are raising these little people are able to get involved and attend, there is always that one, sometimes two, but always one child in the classroom who has no one available to be there. And it's obvious. And while the teacher and other parents make sure to include the child so that they don't feel left out, you know that they know that their VIP isn't there.

*sniffle*

And then there is always that one mom. The one who's a little clueless. The one who is a little self-absorbed. The one who is a bit naive or purposely obtuse who I will overhear utter, I can't believe no one could be here for him. Perhaps she isn't aware that people have to earn a paycheck. And maybe she doesn't know what it's like to already have to request time off or leave work early for school plays, parent-teacher conferences, back to school nights, open houses, not to mention other non-school related events and some people just don't have the luxury of taking the morning off to spend 45 minutes making macaroni and glitter picture frames and enjoying bite size muffins with their child.

This morning I am Boy-Child#2 and Girl-Child's VIP. And because their classes scheduled times coincide; I will vacillate from one room to another and for ten minutes here and there my children will be that VIPless child.

Thank you Elementary School, for seeing to my dose of guilt for the day. The two dozen berry muffins with the burnt bottoms were my contribution to the considerable spread. You're welcome.

~number of times the thesaurus was consulted for this entry? Three. And still too many uses of the same words. I'm failing writing.

34 comments:

Mr Lady said...

My kids' old school had Family Literacy Day every spring, where they served cake and you could come in an have your 1st grader read you everything they'd written that year. And half the parents didn't come.

One year, there was this one little girl, who's mom totally had to work, but she was SURE her mom was coming. She watched the door and just cried. I knew her mom wasn't coming (they were a lower income family, no WAY mom could take a day off for school stuff, and props to her, yo) and so I went up to her and said, "Can i pretend to be your mom today?" She looked at me and said, "You're WHITE. Everyone will know!" and I said, "Huh, funny, because we both have ponytails in today. No one will be able to tell us apart!"

And she sat in my lap and read me every story she'd written. And 5 other kids did after her. And for the rest of the years I knew her, she called me Fake White Mom. Her mom and I laughed so freaking hard about it, you don't even know. And she wasn't alone that day, which is all that matters in the end.

Rebecca said...

I am all teary from mr lady's comment. Seriously people like you make the world better!

I always feel bad for the kids who don't have a parent attending too. We still have just plain old Grandparents Day. And my poor kids are the ones with Grandparents who live half way across the country.

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

I thought school was supposed to give us a break. Don't they realize you live with your children and have ample time in the evenings and afternoons to see their schoolwork, do crafts, or read to them? If they think you don't see enough of them, they should shorten the school day. Around here, it's one hour longer than it was when I was a kid. Maybe to accomodate silly functions like the one you describe...

hulagirlatheart said...

My favorite are the comments from that one superior stay at home mom who acts as if I hate my child because I work. Is there a voo doo doll for that kind of thing?

Laura said...

I had to be a "Grandparent" one year for a friend's son. I was the youngest one there, but at least he had someone. It seems like an unnecessary "day"!

Persnickety Ticker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Persnickety Ticker said...

While my mom couldn't afford to show up for anything school function-y, the evil-PTA-Cliquey-used-to-be-cheerleaders-moms-who-run-things can't seem to get rid of me. I am there at my child's school for absolutely everything.

I guess I just fall into that category of wanting to give my child more than I got.

That all being said, I loved the comment from Mr Lady and have been known to be that "Fake White Mom" from time to time. Sometimes it's the little things that change those kids lives.

All Adither said...

Oh, that is sad. Luckily, I'm a stay-at-home, but the school has SO many functions/volunteer requests that I don't know how we'd do it if I wasn't here. I guess we just wouldn't.

Madge said...

we have grandparent's day in the spring and the few kids with no one there just break my heart.

Preston said...

I absolutely love your blog. (I find it helps to grovel and shovel a little) I was that kid. My mother was never interested in any of that stuff and my dad ran a business in town so they never attended any of those school functions. My dad never participated with me in Cub Scouts (I quit before becoming a Boy Scout) and no one except my sister ever came to watch me play baseball. Not only did I feel bad but I was also snubbed for it, not just by the kids but by the adults as well. The only good thing that came out of it was I made sure that I would never do that to my daughter.

g said...

Mr. lady, what a wonderful story. You are a great person.

My son's kindergarten school in the Central District of Seattle, served a community that was so poor they didn't even have a PTSA - no one could afford the dues. Hardly any parent came to school during the day, because they worked.

The principal was a wonderful compassionate person, and she arranged Wednesday night spaghetti dinners once a month that brought families into the school. They were wonderful occasions.

MamaHenClucks said...

Ah yes, we also have those functions, and although I make every effort to attend EVERYTHING, sometimes Chickie Girl's preK stuff coincides with Chickie Boy's stuff and I choose to go to hers, because I am a classroom helper once a week so I'm always there. But then other parents, who don't know I'm always there, will ask all snotty "where were you?"

barbra said...

Finding a VIP for the kids' schools, ugh. We don't have family here, except my brother and his wife who live an hour away and HAVE JOBS. I have always had a younger child to watch during the day so can't go be the VIP, and The Hubby can't always get off work. It is a PAIN. Once I kept my daughter home from school on that day because no kid of mine is going to be The Kid With No VIP.

Oh, and also? That mom, the one who says something and is a huge dumbass? I have been dealing with that mom in my Middle Girl's class this year. Shut up, dumbass mom! It's her oldest child, making her behavior that much worse...

O'Neal (The woman in charge around here) said...

I know - right??? While I AM thankful my school aged son is privileged enough to attend a private school, (though with times sucking right now I'm a bit unsure of him continuing), the parent attending functions are more demanding than even a lucky stay at home mommy can swing! It's not just the plays, or even the 8am Thursday Morning chapel services that last well into the afternoon so that EVERY teacher and titled staff member gets their 15 mins of fame on stage blabbing, it's the constant emails from room moms requesting me be there EVERY SINGLE DAY to let the teacher take a break from lunch duty, playground time, reading time, teaching time.... and they have TWD's at LEAST ONCE a week, sometimes 2!

I guess what I am saying is for a service I pay for that I am already stressing about being able to pay, making the sacrifices TO pay it, is it too much to expect the teachers to do their own damn job without guilting ME about it???

I also agree with the mom's,dad's, grandparent's days that happen a minimum of 5 times a year. It IS sad for the child that their whatever couldn't be there for some reason or another! And YES, I scorch those nit wit loose mouth airheads that let their trap flap without thinking of the poor child within earshot - grrrr! That Mommy that couldn't get off work to be there is actually getting ready to be me in the near future if the tuition goes past 2 BMW pmt's a month!

Wanna hear the story about the time the teacher sent me a last minute request for XL sugar cookies and decorating icing and after finally finding all of the above at near midnight the night before, she put MY 5 yr old boy in the corner and didn't let him participate?!?!? Nah, too many bad words with that one! ;)

barbra said...

I just remembered this one year when I asked a friend of mine to be my daughter's VIP in her preschool class.

The VIP thing is only about 45 minutes long, and after the kids introduce their VIP's, they take a group photo.

My flaky friend was 20 minutes late, missing the introductions and the photo. My daughter had nobody for half of VIP time. SHIT.

smalltownmom said...

My son's schools never did this. Thank goodness.

Eve Grey said...

Lump ion throat already present after reading. Full on tears after Mr. Lady's comment. I am way too sensitive today.

Eve Grey said...

Not really lump ion throat. Lump in throat, yes.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

I'm with you on that day.
Fortunately, my sons have our Surrogate Grandma Alice who ALWAYS takes the other orphans under her expansive wings and loves them to death. SGA is the most popular woman in the room by the time she leaves, and the teachers rave about her.

Sue @ My Party of 6 said...

Mr. Lady - you ROCK! Fake White Mom - very, very funny!

I am not a fan of this function either. At our (Catholic) school, it has become a marketing event to hit up the grandparents for donations. That BURNS me up. My kids do have one set of grandparents who can make it, but now I have 3 kids in the same school, so I'll have to split one of my parents in two to cover each room. (Or we could just DROP this nonsense altogether.)

Debbie said...

When my oldest were in kindergarten, no one told me that every family member within 100 miles goes to eat the school Thanksgiving meal with their child. I felt like such a slacker mom for not going. I'm like you. I'm not a big fan of these things that make so many kids feel different.

Swirl Girl said...

My kids' pre-school has grandparents day too. I usually don't send them on that day because
not every one has a grandparent who lives nearby...or are even still on this earth. Asses.

todays' word verification is : oshedul

as in "oh, she duel" Me too!

MadWoman said...

We have the same day at our school and there are always at least three kids in each class who have no one there for them. And yeah, always a couple of boobs who can't keep their damn mouths shut.

It's a sucky day for those kids. And a sucky day for those of us who can't get the time off work to go be the VIP.

kmbrknits said...

I'm with you, I hate vip day. What a stupid idea. Ditto with the myriad other school functions we are obliged to attend: Science nite!! Pioneer nite!! Story nite!! Variety Show, Instrument Recital, Super Student assemblies Book Fair Santa Boutique another Book Fair Dr. Seuss nite gah! I actually like the parent teacher conference, it serves a purpose other than fucking up our previously chock full 'o homework/instrument practice/sports schedule.

For VIP/parent guilt day, our school has a little play or some kind of performance in each class. Then there's a craft, where you (because all relatives are busy or 1500 miles away) and your child who you just saw this morning and probably did art with over the weekend anyway, make a piece of crap you're going to have to hang on to until the kid forgets about it. You know, in addition to the other million masterpieces you already have to cull through. Augh.

Remember when we were kids (lets say in the 70's...), and parents were way less involved in our lives, and in fact, had their own lives that looked interesting and like something to aspire to? I miss that.

apathy lounge said...

I agree with you wholeheartedly. My public school kids have never had a VIP Day or Grandparents' Day, but my sister's private school kids have it every year. And I know it's just a gesture to get $$$$ from grandparents who like the fuss and bother, but you're right about the fact that not every kid has grandparents. And it makes them feel like crap.

Nelson's Mama said...

My daughter's former elementary school had a rule that grandparents only could attend. How's that for a warm & fuzzy for little kids?

LuckyMe said...

My poor Mom and my poor niece. Mom had the date circled on her calendar and STILL forgot to go. Of course Zoe was the only one grandparentless and someone took her under their wing, but there were some tears. on both ends.

I agree. Good intentions. Bad results.

I have seen some grandparents volunteer in the school cafeteria or library. I think that is so cool - OPTIONAL involvement, not MANDATORY.

And mr lady, you rock! esp. if you're cool enough to be Fake White Mom!

Jason, as himself said...

I'm tellin' ya! Transfer those kids on over to our side of town and I promise there will be no such functions!

There will be no functions at all.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

You have a good heart.

JCK said...

No failure, OK? Your posts are always gems.

It IS hard when the grandparents live far away. I can only imagine how hard it is when you can't get away from work, even if you want to. You made me think tonight.

mommypie said...

You're a good mommy, Toots.

MelADramatic Mommy said...

Oh Mr. Lady, you are the shit! I agree Tootsie, those types of days are tough for kids. My parents live several hours away but my little one still asks if they'll be there and is sad when they say no. I can't imagine what it's like for the ones who have lost their VIP's.

angela said...

I'm visiting from Mrs G.
I love your blog though it makes me feel half sadly nostalgic that my child rearing days are over and the other plain relief that they are if this is what parents have to cope with.
I live in France and, trust me, you'd love their primary schools: Parents are totally discouraged from entering the school. In fact we wait in the car park behind a locked gate and the children are escorted out at the end of school by the teacher. There is as greater a separation between home and school as there is between religion and school.I used to hate it but reading these comments I have to wonder if it isn't a good thing...

babs said...

I was so glad when my kids got out of elementary school. They can go so overboard with so many things. My oldest is in college and the other is a year and half away from graduating h.s. Believe it or not, life is actually simpler now!