Not too long ago Ava asked me that question: “Mama, why aren’t you in the PTA?”
Awwwww. That kid. So sweet.
There I stood in the kitchen with my tattoos and questionable attitude, throwing together some jerry-rigged meal of non-organic clearance items while yelling at the 5-year old and the husband simultaneously, singing kid unfriendly music between rants, trying to convince myself that 8pm is in fact a reasonable time to start dinner, wondering what sort of hellish after-school activity will plague me tomorrow …and she wants to know why I’m not in the PTA.
I figured “well, this conversation was bound to happen someday.” – Kind of like the sex talk. You don’t want to have it, but you must. It’s just one of those things.
So I laid it out for her: “Ava, there are two kinds of mothers in this world: those who are in the PTA and those who are not. You come from a long line of women not in the PTA.”
And I left it at that, hoping she’d drop it.
But she didn’t drop it – because she’s Ava. She never drops anything. Except her stuff as she’s trying to get in the car with 75,000 items NOT IN HER BACKPACK (though oddly, her backpack is one of the things she’s dropping, as it bangs around, (since it’s empty and therefore floppy), whacking other items out of her arms and onto the ground). Damn. Nine-year olds are weird.
(Don’t you wish I could stay on topic? Yeah. So did my high school English teacher.)
So of COURSE the dreaded question comes next “What do you mean?”
And then I have to decide…truth? Kid appropriate bullshit? Truth? Kid appropriate bullshit?
That night I chose edited truth. “Well, some women are into that sort of thing. Some women are all PTA-ish – you know, they dig that stuff – the organized mommy movement and such. They fit in and like planning and cheerfulness and whatnot. And perhaps more importantly, they usually don’t work, which means they have time and, most likely, money, (or insane drive and devotion) – and since I have neither, I’m not in the PTA.”
The unedited truth would have sounded something like this: “well, Ava, I hate organizational meetings. The only thing I can imagine worse than an organizational meeting is an organizational meeting of mothers debating which gift is the appropriate one for Teacher Appreciation Week or who should bring the gluten-free cookies to the next open house – because there’s just so much talking and so little action and I inevitably find myself asking the same glaring question: WHO.GIVES.A.FUCK. Basically I’d rather stab myself in the eye with a spoon than get involved with something like that.”
But I didn’t say that. Because that would be inappropriate.
Though even my edited version seemed to hurt her feelings a little, so I explained further.
“It’s not that I don’t want to be involved in your education and school. It’s just that it isn’t really my ‘thing,’ as much as I’d like it to be. Part of growing up is realizing what you’re good at and what you’re not good at. And I’m not very good at that sort of thing. I tend to scare people with my bad attitude and general disdain for group activities (That was a thought. Not an outside voice item.). I prefer to get involved other ways.” (Um, yeah, still looking for those “other ways,” but I’m sure they exist. Somewhere.)
I mean the PTA emails ALONE irritate the hell out of me.
For example, I was not joking about the Teacher Appreciation Week. It started out with a seemingly innocuous email by the lead PTA person…”Hi it’s [upbeat PTA woman]….blah blah blah….teacher week….etc…we decided that every parent should give $30.00 to buy gift cards for the teachers.” Hmmmm. I considered this. Here were my thoughts:
- Dude, $30.00? That’s a damn lotta money. I don’t really have $30.00. Screw you for assuming everybody has an extra $30.00, you damn out-of-touch yuppie. What happened to the good old $5.00 limit?;
- Why should I pay $30.00 to show my appreciation anyway? I show my appreciation by paying the freaking tuition each month; and
- Moreover, how the hell does MY paying $30.00 show my KID how to demonstrate appreciation to those who help her, which is allegedly the point of this exercise?
And then, of course, my final thought: “There is no way in hell I’m participating in this activity.”
So I write a (very) edited version of the aforementioned thought pattern and [wrongly] assume that I won’t hear any more about this, having decided with Ava that we would make beeswax candles for her teacher and write her a letter of gratitude, possibly giving her some roses from our front yard (if they’re not “gross” by then).
But OH NO it’s not the end. It’s not the end because people don’t understand the “reply-all” function (or they are hell-bent on making me bash my BlackBerry into the ground until it falls helter-skelter into 5 crushed pieces of plastic), which means I will receive no less than twenty-seven irrelevant and superfluous emails registering in favor of the $30.00 gift card scheme or acting as ‘friendly reminders’ (which are not friendly at all, just annoying) or asking deep critical questions such as “what about the specialty teachers?” “what do they get?” “what about the after-school aids?” “how much does each one get?” “do we have the kids sign a card?” “if so, what sort of card?” “who’s going to get the card?” “what about the teacher’s husband’s mother?” “does she get a card?”
Say it with me people…
And that, my friends, is why I’m not in the PTA.
Cause I can’t even handle the cyber decision-making.