Saturday, April 28, 2012

Parents Can't Be Fired

And, isn't that shame in some cases?

We've finished day 3 of our 4 day BOGO Book fair and I find myself on my couch watching a DVR'd episode of Toddlers & Tiaras.  I also have laryngitis & am eternally grateful to my wonderful husband for taking Sunshine to a birthday party @ Chuck E Cheese.  On a Saturday.  I need to do something super nice for him to make up for this!

So anyway, have you noticed that parents can't be fired?  You can be the crappiest parent on the face of the earth & it takes a court of law for you to be fired.

Since I've spent so much time at school this past week (most weeks really), I've seen the results of crappy parenting.

There are obviously tons of books at a Book Fair, but there's also the "junk" table as we call it.  Pencils, erasers, $2 erasers, $1.50 pencils, $5 pens.  Those stupid pointers that kids have no need for but  they cannot pull themselves away from them.  Then there's the pointer pen/combo.  And of course, the posters.

I understand the need for the junk table but I also understand the lure & the temptation of it as well.  Yes folks, elementary kids shoplift at the book fair.

One of our budding little thieves is a 1st grade girl.  She has a sweet face & I'm willing to bet that if her parents gave half a damn, she'd be one of those great kids that everyone loves.  But the fact is, her parents don't even give 1/16 of a damn.  She comes to school in mismatched clothes, looking like she just rolled out of bed.  She's disruptive in class, has flipped her teacher the bird too many times to mention, her folder has that black crayon scribble that is generally associated with serial killers, she's stabbed herself with a pencil & has stolen stuff from her classmates.

She's 6, people.  SIX years old.  She's been disciplined at school & sadly her behavior has led to her being ostracized by her classmates.  Her parents have been told repeatedly that she needs help.  She needs therapy.   They don't bring her because "it's too far to drive".

Sad sack daddy say what??  Your child is STABBING themselves with a pencil & you're not willing to get her the help she needs?  Pardon my language, but what the hell???  Who the hell ARE these people?  Her teacher & the administrators are at their wits end.  They want to see her get help.  They want her to fit in &  be a normal kid.  But sadly their hands are tied.

On Thursday, the 9 year old girl who shoplifted at our book fair back in Sept came to shop.  She was turned in back in the fall by her classmates.  As a PTA member, my hands are tied when it comes to any sort of disciplinary action.  But our Super Bookatarian came to the rescue &  handled the situation.  So, whenever this girl comes into the library for the fair, I set my volunteers on an eagle eye mission to watch her.  One of the wonderful ladies from my knit group came to help out this time around & was on this girl like a hawk to the point where she was beyond frustrated & didn't lift anything.  This time.  Who knows what happens in brick & mortar stores.

Then, yesterday we had another 9 year old girl steal.  She was smart (or really dumb, however you choose to see it) & had her friend with her as a shield.  She stole a Han Solo Lego figure out of a book.  I was outside the fair talking to a PTA volunteer who wants to chair a couple events next year so I missed the whole thing.  When I returned to the library I was filled in on everything.  Our library clerk was still shaking as she was the one who saw it happen & who confronted the girl.

Unlike our lost little 6 year old, this girl's family would buy her anything.  Only they don't like facing the fact that their daughter has issues.  Both of the girls were brought to the principal's office, confronted & unfortunately the Lego figure is missing.  We don't know if he wound up in the trash, thrown behind the book fair fixtures, or who knows where.  The girls were brought home by their parents.

Now, if you know anything about book fair, you know that after each one, Super Bookatarian & I celebrate by going out for margaritas.  The rule is you can come with us if you've volunteered for the fair.  Last night was our margarita night & we were joined by 3 teachers.  One of them pointed out that our 9 year old girl's mom was seated at a table near ours.  I understand you have commitments &  that you need your mom time.  But for pete's sake, your child was accused of stealing & you're out having cocktails & munchies???

It all makes sense, doesn't it?

Last week, I saw the Facebook status of an acquaintance.  It said that she didn't want to the the mommy that day.

I don't know about you, but no one ever told me that there was a choice.  That you can take off the mommy hat & go back to your life before you were the mommy.  Is there a choice?  Have I been misled?

Being a mom (or dad) is no joke.  You're on the job 24/7/365.  Your job doesn't end because the kids are at school or in bed.  It doesn't end when they leave the house & go off on their own.  This gig's sort of like being Pope.  You're in it for life.  The fancy hat is optional.  And sadly you don't get the Pope's car.  Which would be kind of cool.

But I digress.

As a parent you are responsible for EVERYTHING.  You're the good guy, the bad guy, the hard-ass, the safe place, Miss Manners, chief advocate, mediator, chauffeur, secretary, maid, care giver, chef, etc, etc, blah blah blah.

Again, this gig is no joke.   But it doesn't come with a time card.  Too few people realize this.

Let's revisit 6 year old lost girl.  She has a classmate who destroyed a book case in his teacher's class.  Now, had that been Sunshine, I'm pretty sure that I would have gone into that school, on my knees, begging forgiveness with checkbook in hand to make restitution.  This boy's mom?  Blamed the teacher for his outburst.    His reading problem?  The teacher's fault.  She needs to work with him more.  Those other 22 kids in the class?  Forget them.  They'll be fine on their own, but her baby?  Needs help.

She approached me in the fall &  in an indirect way started to ask me if I would watch her children after school.  I love the work I do at Sunshine's school, but I am NOT watching anyone's children on a regular basis after school.  Sunshine gets along w/ this boy's brother (they've been in the same class for 2 years), but after a while, they start to rub each other the wrong way.  She doesn't need to be having a bad week or whatever with him at school &  then have him in her home afterward.  And I'm going to admit, I like our afternoons.  We have snacks, playtime, homework, dinner, etc.  Throwing 2 boys into the mix isn't going to happen.

So after I tell her that I'm frequently busy after school I found myself being approached by the teacher's aide who had been watching them.  She told me I made a wise decision as this mom cannot handle hearing anything negative about her sons.  And you do NOT discipline them.  She does.  We know she really doesn't but still.

Fast forward to Christmas time.  She approaches me again to ask if I could carve out some time when I'm at school to go into her younger son's classroom to read with him.  No, she's not going to pay me &  I know she doesn't read much with him at night at home, but could I do this pro bono work for her?  I have a degree in education.  I have experience working with children.  The times I'm at school I'm busy.  Part of the reason why I don't walk Sunshine into school in the mornings is because I will wind up being there for an hour or two.

Why do people expect others to raise their children for them?  I'm more than willing to tutor this boy, but you're paying me.  If that makes me a rotten person, then hand me the crown &  the sash.  I'll own it.  We read with Sunshine---we have since she was a little, little baby.  I leave my Monday night knitting group early to come home to read with her.  It's that important to us.

Kids aren't pets that can be left to their own devices.  They need guidance.  They need rules, they need standards &  they need parents who will be examples to them.  They need parents who are there for them & who hold them accountable.  They need parents who love them &  who want them to be the best they can be.

Kinda hard to do when you're blaming someone else for their crappy behavior while you're out having drinks, wouldn't you say?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012



the act of committing.
the state of being committed.
the act of committing, pledging, or engaging oneself.
a pledge or promise; obligation: We have made a commitmentto pay our bills on time.

 Last year I was approached by our PTA President about taking on the Treasurer position for PTA.  I knew it was going to be a huge time suck.  I knew there would be a great deal of responsibility.  I knew what the commitment was.

There's that word.   Commitment.

Some people take it very seriously & some don't.    For those of us who do, those who don't are major pains.

Last year I was also approached by the outgoing Book Fair Chair/Media Center Liason Chair & asked if I'd like to join her as Co-Chair.  Which I did.  I knew the possibility existed that she would be moving at the end of the school year but didn't let that bother me.  I'd be working with our Super Bookatarian & that alone made the job worth it.  

So now we're looking at Book Fair #3 for the year.  My flyers went home last week.  My posters went up today, as did the sign up sheets for the teachers.  The website link goes up today on FB and I've been promoting BF on our FB group as well.  I've been getting my volunteers lined up for set up, the fair itself & the break down.  If I find I don't have enough, I'll hit up the rest of the Executive Board for coverage where I think I'm sparse.   A day or two after the breakdown I'll get my financials done & call it good.

Notice I've done my work.  My responsibility.  Fulfilled my commitment.

Again, some people don't do this.

We have an event next week at school that coincides with Book Fair.  It's one of those family evening events.  The chair person?  Whatever is all I can really say.  We're a week out from the event & the outside talent isn't confirmed.  Truth be told, I don't even know if they've been contacted.  The Room Mom Coordinator has contacted some food vendors about coming in but it's not her job.  She took it on herself.  Today I wrote up, copied & distributed the flyers (oh so very generic flyers because of the lack of info regarding the talent) for this event.  Why are the Room Mom Coordinator & I doing this person's job?  Did she ask us for help?

No, she never does.  She doesn't communicate with anyone unless they initiate contact.  Well, that's half true---sometimes she doesn't even reply.  The times I've emailed asking for lunch coverage at Book Fair, she never replies.  

So why did I spend a couple hours this morning helping her?  I'm still asking myself that question.  I won't feel guilty if the event tanks because it's not my event.  MY event will do well.  It always does.  Not to sound cocky but Book Fair creates such a frenzy at our school---it's awesome to see.  And refreshing to know that kids are excited by books.  

I spent time working on this woman's event because her lack of commitment angers me.  It makes me worry that people will think the PTA flaked on this.   And I don't want my name dragged through the mud because SHE can't handle anything.

The kicker is this woman had said early in the year that she wanted to be PTA president next year.   She can't run the two events she volunteered to chair much less run our PTA.  This Sunday we're having our Board meeting where we'll discuss next year's officer nominees.  She's not being nominated for anything on the Executive Board.  I can't help but wonder if she thinks she's getting a nod.  She's made mention that she knows she hasn't been around as much as the rest of us but just "call if you need help"  Funny thing is, when we call, she's never around.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Jami Did It!

A couple days ago, my friend, Jami, posted her memories of the day before her son was born.  Since Sunshine's birthday is tomorrow, I'm totally copying Jami.

Here I am in all my 40 weeks pregnant glory.  For those of you without children, I'll give you a minute or two to collect yourselves.  40 weeks pregnant is no joke, kids.  You're huge.  You're uncomfortable.  Idiots Well-meaning strangers keep asking "when are you due?" & "are you sure???? 'Cuz yer yooooge!"  You can't sleep, your legs feel like sand bags when your 1 year old dog wants to go for their daily mile long walk.  I haven't even mentioned the 37 lb weight gain.  Or *whispers*  stretch marks.

So, eight years ago I was 40 weeks pregnant with Sunshine.  My due date was originally given as 4/6/04 but somehow, through the genius of obstetric math, it was bumped up one whole day to 4/7/04.  Whatever.  I was massive.  Luckily it was all around my middle as my wrists, hands, feet, legs never got swollen.  That's okay, there was enough going on around my midsection that you didn't even think to look at my extremities.

Somewhere around 37 weeks gestation, my OB decided to schedule an ultrasound to determine how big this baby was.  Ultrasounds aren't exact science when it comes to this sort of thing.  Had I been smart, I would have picked a date on the calendar, scheduled a C-section & wallah--instant birthday!

But no,  first time mom decides to let nature take it's course.  More on that later.

So, the ultrasound shows a big baby.  She measures full term.  The weight guesstimate is around 9 lbs, but please note it can be off by a couple pounds so we're told that she's anywhere between 7 & 9 lbs.   Remember that 9 lbs.  And do some obstetric math.  37 wks + 9 lbs baby + usual 1/2 - 1 lbs weight gain/week in the last month.  Put your hands down--I'll call on you later.

SO, April 5th 2004.  I'm huge.  My doctor has decided that we're going to induce on the 6th.  Fine, whatever.  While I'm enjoying being pregnant, the party is over & I want to go home.  I want to meet this little person (or not so little) who has been kicking me, hiccuping & rolling over so that my stomach looks like that scene in Alien where the thing comes out of the guy's stomach.

Like Jami, I went to Atlanta Bread Company for lunch with Hunter the day before Sunshine was born.  Unlike Jami, I didn't have a pumpkin muffin.  Although they do have yummy ones.  I had the cuban sandwich. And a pickle. And chips.  Afterward we walked.  And we walked.  And we walked.  We walked the length of Columbus Park Crossing & back.  For someone whose legs felt like sandbags, I sure did a good bit of walking that day.

The rest of the day was pretty uneventful but I was stressed out.  It was a day ending in "y", of course I was stressed.  Despite the fact that I was being induced, we still had to call the hospital the next morning to make sure there would be a bed for me (Ft. Benning was at the beginning of a baby boom as there were record numbers of 3ID wives pregnant courtesy of OIF).  We went to bed reasonably early only to be woken up at 4 am when my water broke.

We called the hospital & were told to get in there ASAP.  Which means Hunter took a shower first & then we started heading in to post.

I'm not going to bore you with the minutiae of the next 17 hours.  Yes, I said 17 hours.  I had a 17 hour labor.   That stalled.  Stopped.  Ceased to progress.  Birth plan?  We don't need no stinkin' birth plan.  Which is why I always tell very pregnant women that IF things don't go as they planned during labor, GO WITH IT.  It doesn't matter if you have the birth of your dreams.  What matters is that you & your baby are healthy & fine. Birth plan--HA!

Now, those of you who had your hands raised on the math question.  Any guesses on what a baby who was weighing in at 7-9 lbs at 37 weeks will weigh at birth?  Those of you who guessed 10 lbs 11 oz would be correct.  Bonus points if you said she was 22" long.  Apparently I took the phrase "go big or go home" a little too serious.

But, all that mattered was that our sweet baby girl was with us.  And she was healthy.  And perfect.  And ours.

So, here I sit, 8 years later with my darling girl.  We've been enjoying Spring Break this week & she is beside herself with anticipation over tomorrow.  8 is a big birthday.  It's the fringe of tween-dom, or so she tells me.  Today at lunch (no, we didn't go to Atlanta Bread.) she asked me if turning 8 meant she had to give up imaging things.  I told her that Mommy still imagines things.  It's not something you have to give up.

And we went for a mani/pedi, just like I did 8 years ago.  Only today the ladies were commenting on Sunshine in her pretty dress w/ matching accessories.  No one told me that I was wrong---that there were twins in there.  And that I'd be back telling them they were right.

I never did go back to that nail salon to tell them they were wrong.  I wonder what the statute of limitations is???