Dear PTA, why do you hate us?

by Janelle Hanchett

Look, first of all, I realize you do all kinds of amazing things for the school that benefit the kids, and you do it on behalf of mothers like me, who would rather spend the rest of their lives naked in an arctic cave listening to Nickelback than do what you do.

I hate meetings. The only thing more horrifying to me than a meeting is the idea of a meeting involving parents trying to accomplish things for 50 billion children.

I think it’s actually my idea of hell. There’s always that Super Serious mom who does not think you’re funny and I always think I’m funny, so, anyway. Also ill-timed F-bombs. Plus it’s boring.

Meeting participation is not, shall we say, my forte. I’m better at standing back and whining about what other people do in meetings. It’s a talent I’ve developed over years of self-important apathy and needing to work to help support my family.

But seriously though, I have one request: Can you please stop making shit up at random and expecting all of us to participate?

This morning I’m sitting at work, minding my own business, procrastinating my writing, when I happen upon a thread in the first-grade classroom list-serve involving words like “twin day” and “positive shirt” and “size medium” and “Target is out.” Since I have no fucking clue what’s happening, I brilliantly surmise that I missed some sort of back story.

By now my heart is pounding because I’m sure my 6-year-old is standing at that very moment in a classroom full of “twins,” realizing she is a singleton, or, in other words, the loser with no friends.


Anyway, I scroll through a thread the length of Donald Trump’s list of lies only to find nothing. No date. No identifying information. Everybody’s in on “twin day” except me. I’m lost as usual. There’s no doubt in my mind there was an a handout I missed – or one of the 1900 emails I receive from my kids’ schools, 1885 of which aren’t important – but I’m stuck again with that old feeling of “How does everybody know this shit and will I ever improve?”

I check my email. Nothing. And then I literally Google: “What is twin day” in case it’s some sort of national holiday nobody cares about like “national sibling day.” I see a post somewhere saying it’s a “spirit week” thing put on by the PTA, which immediately clears shit up, because the PTA hates us.

Why do you hate us?

You don’t hate us. I know that. You love us. But you must sort of hate us. Because this isn’t right, man. It isn’t.

Finally I learn it’s on February 3rd, which is two days from now, so, PRAISE JESUS! I find the original thread on the classroom website, and figure out the shirt my kid is supposed to wear to match the teacher (because matching another kid is outta the fuckin question), and I order one from Target in a neighboring town because this town is sold out because the PTA hates us.

Here’s the thing: I have four kids spread across the age spectrum from 15 to 2. AND THEY ALL NEED THINGS. My husband works two hours away. I am a writer with a major fucking deadline in like five minutes, and, quite frankly, of all the interest I hold in my body, about 2% is directed to spirited school events.

This is not because I’m a monster. I mean, I may be a monster, but mostly I am simply not living a life that lends itself to sustained and directed attention to shit like “whacky hair day.” Alright. Whacky hair day is kinda fun.



It’s fine. I’m okay. I took a breath.

And I’m lucky to have flexible self-employment. I have also worked full-time while going to graduate school with 3 kids. Deep and heartfelt apologies, but in that condition, I have a really hard time tracking every goddamn spirit day invention y’all concocted when nobody’s looking.

I know. I know. If I don’t like it, I should join the PTA and change it.

But really, is that how this works? No. Because I’m the asshole here and we both know it.

The underlying message is that inherent in motherhood is an interest and devotion to random shit people make up to “help make school more fun.”

Meanwhile, I’m over here like “You want to make school more fun? Why don’t you let them play outside more, burn the worksheets, and stop forcing them to line up by number twelve times a day like factory workers whose souls disintegrated years ago?”

You see? This is why I don’t go to meetings. My nihilism shines forth and frightens people.

Anyway I gotta go. I have to buy a fucking “twin shirt.”

Oh well, at least I didn’t blow it this time.

Maybe I’m improving. Oh come on.


me learning of “twin day”


39 Comments | Posted in I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I'M DOING HERE. | February 1, 2017
  • Vanessa

    I’m on the PTA to keep “twin day” from ever being a thing.

    • Jessica


  • Rosemarie Gilbert

    OMG yes this – and I didn’t even work full time! keeping up with all 4 was more than a full time job. I work night shift. In an ER. I had the luxury of working very part time when mine were little. On of my coworkers got it . Used to ask me if I was at work for “a vacation” Yes. Yes I was. 8 hours working in an EMERGENCY ROOM was less work/stress/headache than being at home with 4 little kids! Go figure! And the over the top school stuff was def part of it. But hell, I would do it all over again 🙂
    I have always been in awe of the parents that work full time. Don’t know how the hell you all do it!
    as always thank you

    • Nichole

      Ha! I’m a nurse in an adult ICU… and I so agree!!! I love my kid to the moons
      D back,but work is my sanity break (even though it is intself its own kind of insanity)! Plus I get to pee alone… and no one wants to share my food. ????

  • Lisa

    It’s like you took a little vacation inside my heart and this is the letter you wrote home about the things you saw while you were there.

    • Sherry

      Bwahahaha!! Lisa, will YOU be my friend? I literally have none. Because my heart? Just a barren oasis of irritation.


    I’m a theater teacher who has watched a parade of parents both lean in and duck these kind of opportunities to be involved. Trust me—those of you who lean out leave enough move for the parents WHO LOVE THIS KINDA SHIT. And if there are too many of those kinds of parents, it’s chaos too. So it’s all good PTA and non-PTA Parents…you do you. It’s all about balance…

  • Anya

    Just as a heads up – tomorrow is “dress like a famous person day”. But because my daughter is in 2nd grade – she gets to just dress up like her dream profession.

    Anyone know where I can get a fucking matador/rockstar/president/astronaut outfit at?

    • Anya

      I should probably clarify, I am on the PTA – I just forgot all about Catholic Schools week being a dress up all week long week.

  • Annabel

    Oh, the PTA… I made an attempt to participate when my daughter started kindergarten last year, going to the first meeting announced on the public FB page. I show up, the president of the PTA glares at me across the table and asks why I’m here because this is a PTA board meeting. I tell her it was on the FB page as a general meeting, and she sniffs, “Well, I suppose you can stay then.”

    So, I’m pretty much done with the PTA. And they wonder why participation is low…

    • Heather

      Your PTA sucks. You should join ours — there’s always somebody who has “smuggled” in wine…


  • Scottiev

    A-FREAKING-MEN! Then to make you feel guilty because you’re not at the school volunteering in the classroom 3 times a week….umm how the hell are they supposed to learn anything not with all this “fun”?! Ugh. PREACH IT GIRL!!

  • John Hanley

    Yep. Was the only Dad on the PTA for like six years running and not like my dadnesss has anything (much) to do with it, but I too dedicated my time there to wiping out as much of this spirit-y shit as possible, starting with that grotesque fucking Secret Santa bullshit that I
    always reckoned ended with some kid or kids or fourteen kids getting stuck with a) NO fucking money to buy a present for Mom, or b) having to rely on PTA charity to be able to buy some worthless piece of shit he or she does not want for a Mom who wants it even less. And as much as I had actual allies who felt more or less the same way about it (minus the swears except for that one mom who could pretty much keep up with me in that dept, bless her poor benighted heart), it didn’t matter in the end because you know what? — that shit has a life of its own. And no matter how hard you or I or the hundred other moms plus one dad tries, it always comes back— school spirit is the kudzu of the educational system, a vine no sane person likes, that every good person wishes would just die, but that lives on and on and on nevertheless.

    • Rebecca

      “school spirit is the kudzu of the educational system” may just be the best thing I’ve seen in months. Thank you for a chuckle, however rueful!

  • annette

    The greatest day(s) of my life was the day my son graduated from high school and I no longer had to deal with teachers, attendance offices, “parent homework”, helpful “How to parent” emails from principals and things like “Twin Day”. I have limited patience for nonsense and limited patience for wasting money on idiocy and this comes under the heading of both. Ugh.

  • Lori Brown Patrick

    Meanwhile, I’m over here like “You want to make school more fun? Why don’t you let them play outside more, burn the worksheets, and stop forcing them to line up by number twelve times a day like factory workers whose souls disintegrated years ago?”

    –me, for all 34 years or so of having kids in school. Preach it, sister.

  • Becca

    I was also the nihilist a-hole and now I find myself the president of the PTA. Schools need people who think outside the box! We now have a garden club so the littles learn about growing their own food & a community service club. We are leaving things like spirit days to the student council so we can focus on doing some things that may have a bigger impact. Not all PTAs & members fit the stereotype and most desperately need the help.

  • michelle cook

    DUDE. I was just saying this the other day to my husband. I though we went to this amazing science and art charter school to get AWAY FROM “DAYS”. They are the worst and I hate them. Luckily my first grader lives in an alternate universe on another planet with outfit aversions and RARELY if ever participates. Other things I hate at school – parties – half days – field trips where parents have to drive – week off of school for long projects – sports day (because sports are dumb) – PTA moms. Sorry PTA moms, yall are angels on earth but leave me out of it! HAHA

    Phew! That felt great!

  • kerry

    Halla-fuckin’-luya! I hate volunteering. I pretty much only like people I find interesting. (ok, not entirely true… I do volunteer for kid related things, like field trips and parties) I found early on, that if you say yes, they hit you up for EVERYTHING. I love love love the word NO. When someone (in that high, squeaky, 14 year old girl voice) asks me to “join this” or “volunteer” for that, I look them in the eyes and say, “no”… I don’t give excuses, I don’t apologize… I just say no. Seriously, every single time, there’s this silence that follows. The explanation is expected.

    I’m thrilled there are moms who volunteer. They make things work. They make things hum along. I am just NOT a joiner…

  • Sam

    Where was your disposable twin day Target shirt made… educational is that for your children. Take a stand against it, don’t buy into it or stop complaining, no one is forcing you to comply.
    As a homeducator I now hate anything l feel is foisted upon us under the umbrella of now unfortunately have Trump…
    Love xx

    • Sam

      Correct “as a previous home educator”

  • Sherry

    We boycotted twin day last year. I kept both my girls home and the three of us dressed alike, did our hair alike, and had a GREAT day together. I also phoned the school to let them know why my kids were staying home. They were shocked that we didn’t think it would be “fun.”

    For us, twin day was a big, giant tear-filled, anxiety-fest. Daughter #1: her best friend was in a different class, thus, already partnered with a kid in her class. She said my daughter could dress like them, too, for sure! …But then my girl would be the singleton in HER class. She did not think that sounded fun. DUH!

    Daughter #2: Her best friend’s mom is best friends with a different kid’s mom. (And I am a social outcast, so I have no BFF at the school.) Anyway, they twinned their kids. And when I asked if mine could join in as a third, I was told, “Well… not really. We went shopping and got matching outfits and hair ties and tights and stuff. But, I mean, if she wants to wear pink, too….”

    Fuck you, twin day.

    Some suggested I should just let them go and learn that sometimes life sucks. Uh, like they don’t already learn that every damn day??? For the rest of their lives??? No, I prefer to teach them that when life is bullshit, and your best friend’s mom is a dick, your mommy has your back! And mommy is fun. And fuck you, twin day.

    • Samantha Pereira

      Your girls are lucky to have you in their corner. I bet they’ll talk about that day when they’re older.

    • John Hanley

      Good for you, Mom! My youngest just got out of middle school where they had some cockamamie PBiS end-of-year celebration. Dya suppose they ever told us even once what the fuck PBiS stands for? Fuck NO, they didn’t, nor did I ever telll them why I called my kid out of school every freaking year for their g-d celebration! Not that they ever asked!

    • sue

      Fuck you, twin day indeed. This is the first I’ve heard of twin day, it sounds terrible.

      • Sherry

        It was bullshit. Happy to report, it’s not on the agenda for this year. I like to think our boycott changed the world… 😉

  • Johanna

    I love you

  • Carrie

    Yet another reason I’m glad I home school my kiddos. If not having crappy glued dried beans on paper wasn’t enough.

  • Melissa

    A fucken men!!!!!

  • Elaine

    These kinds of things happened to me regularly. Last week I stayed up late helping my 11 year old make a “Greek Honey Cake” for her world cultures class. We covered it in foil, labeled it with her name and class period and then around noon. The following day I got a text from her that the teacher had mistakenly allowed the kids in the earlier class eat it. “It was okay” she said. The teacher had agreed to allow her to bring a second cake on Monday.

  • Loraine

    Hell yeah! As a retired teacher and mother of two, now grandmother of two, I’m totally with you. Most teachers I know who are still in the classroom are as well, but they are not free to say so. I was always the teacher standing near the back during PTA meetings, hoping no one noticed me deliberately leave out the words “under God” during The Pledge of Allegiance (another topic). Your suggestions for making school more fun are perfect. Let them play! I’d join a damn picket line with that sign.

  • Susan

    I feel your pain! I call myself the delinquent mother. I never know about anything.
    I know people that are on multiple boards, one for every activity for every child. Here I am just trying to get my kid to school on time with a lunch and brushed hair.

  • Nichole

    We have “parent council” here… I sometimes volunteer but really I’m an outsider cuz you know I work and all that– and gasp full time to boot and mostly night shift. I try to volunteer with my kids stuff once in awhile when my schedule allows, but man oh man I always feel like I’m in high school again when I do. Im not part of the in group or inner circle of gossip bleh. I just can’t bring myself to actually go to the meetings. They do great things but I just can’t commit lol. And I cannot express how much I hate spirit days, fun days, concerts, or other similar things. I feel my soul die a little each time.

  • Christine K Winter

    Yes to all of this! From the single mom of 3 going to grad school and working 3 part time jobs. Why am I reading this? There is something I should be doing certainly.

  • Stephanie

    Amen!! My son’s school did a WEEK worth of Dr Seuss dress-up days last year – each day had a different theme. I don’t remember what the eff they were besides a pain in my ass. I’m a single mom who works full time, I don’t have time for this shit!!

  • Lindsay

    Fuck YES! Best post ever.

  • Helena

    I’ve tried to volunteer several times, experienced high school all over again. I refused to volunteer, still experienced high school all over again. I graduated from high school and am OVER that bullshit. I don’t even purchase a basic membership from the PTA anymore. My kids are there to learn their basic academics and the rest of the PTA martyrs can KMA.

  • Emily

    All I can think is what a drag on lower income families.

  • Lish

    “Can you please stop making shit up at random and expecting all of us to participate?” EXACTLY how I feel. Thank you!!