Thursday, August 22, 2013


Our lives revolve around choices.  Tall, Grande, Venti.  Value or Supersized.  Appetizer or dessert.  Go to the gym or stay home.    Half full or half empty.

We also make a choice whether we'll be part of the problem or part of the solution.   As parents, the choices we make don't just impact our lives, but those of our children.

And that is pretty serious stuff.

There are some parents who never.  They never give credit to teachers when credit is due.  They never feel they need to follow school policy.  They never feel that their child could be at fault.  They never roll up their sleeves and pitch in but are quick to complain should something not go as planned.

Some of our parents will get on the FB page & whine.  They whine because something didn't come home.  Or they don't know when their child's class is doing a particular activity.  I've had teachers text me saying that we (the PTO), need to remind them to contact the teacher.   If you have someone's phone number and/or email, use it.  That's why you were given the info in the first place.  Yes, another parent may know the answer to your question but really, go to the source.

I've had parents and grandparents upset because I didn't know when a certain class was going to Book Fair.  Didn't I have that information at my house?  So that I could give it out at 10:30 at night?  ASK THE TEACHER!  We have one teacher who is notorious for not signing up for the Fair.  One out of 30 isn't too bad.  But every Book Fair, there are tons of people asking the same question.  None of them ever contact the teachers.

My favorite was an upset grandparent whose granddaughter didn't get to go to Book Fair.  1) it's not my fault & 2) when you go on a public forum to complain, make sure you're giving the whole story.  It later came out that the child didn't let her teacher know she had money that morning and asked to go to the Fair at dismissal.  She wasn't able to as she would miss her bus to day care.

Other parents have made utter fools of themselves in the Principal's office over their child's behavior.  Surely it can't be the child's fault.  It never is.  Twenty other kids are able to behave, do their work in a timely manner & follow the rules.  The fact that your child chose to put his belt around another child's neck in the boys room?  Not his fault.  True story, by the way.  What parent would be okay with their 9 year old doing this?  Wouldn't you be a little concerned about his future?  Not these folks.  They blamed the teacher, the other boy & who knows what/who else.

Another mother witnessed her son punch another student in the stomach in the classroom.  When he was called on his bad behavior by the teacher, the mother hugged her son & told him "let's go home, you deserve better than this."   Your son just physically hurt another student--and a girl at that, but HE deserves better?   This same mother put her name down for room parent and never did a thing.  Not in her son's class & not with the old PTA.  She did manage to show up for the Volunteer Luncheon.  I'm guessing because she deserved it. *eye roll*

Choices, people.  Problem vs. solution

We have some really great parents in our PTO.  People who generously give of their time, their talents, their connections.  The pool where we had our pool party has tons of our parents as members ( my family included), as well as board members.  One of the board members refused to take our check to book the pool party.  Shook his head and put his hands in his pockets.  He felt it wasn't right to take our money as he didn't have to schedule lifeguards for that event.  

We have other parents who have various business connections, through which we're able to receive generous donations.  One company donates soda & water for our Fall Festival.  These parents may not be able to give of their time, but they help out in other ways.

Other parents spend unreal amounts of time at school.  They're room parents, they're grandparents who pitch in to help.  They look at our school as a family where everyone helps in whatever way they can.

As the commercial says: choose wisely, my friends.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Whirlwind of a Day

Sunday started out a little hectic.  Sunshine had been complaining of an itchy eye for a couple days.  We'd been swimming after school on Friday & again on Saturday.  The pool had had problems with leveling out the chemicals earlier in the month and as a result, it smelled of chlorine.  Sunshine tends to let water accumulate in her goggles so I assumed it was the pool's fault.

On Saturday night when she went to bed, her eyelid was red & and eye was bloodshot.  I gave her some Benadryl & put some Visine in her eye to help with the redness & itching.

So, Sunday morning she woke up with a really, very, super red eye & eyelid.  Hunter generously offered to take her to the ER while I went through the house with Clorox wipes.  We were fearing pink eye & I don't do well with highly contagious illnesses.  

They returned with the diagnosis of a stye, as well as an antibiotic ointment & zyrtec.  The upshot was they did the grocery shopping for me too!  Since I was knee deep in Clorox wipes, I was very grateful!  Even though she wasn't contagious the doctor advised that she stay home on Monday.

Only my child would see a day off from school as a negative & bemoaned the fact that she wouldn't receive a perfect attendance award at the end of the school year.

The rest of the afternoon went well---Sunshine played, I did laundry & puttered around the house.  Around dinnertime, Hunter came in from the back yard complaining of pain in his right side.  Since he lives with chronic pain in his back, neck & wrists, this was a new ache.  And it didn't go away.  In face, nausea kicked in.   We decided to go to the ER.  

Sunshine & I waited while he was poked, prodded, gave blood, etc.  After 2 1/2 hours we left to get something to eat as neither one of us had eaten dinner.  We went back into the curtained area to wait for Hunter's CT scan results as well as the results of his blood test.   Both indicated appendicitis.  Finally the surgeon arrived & Hunter was brought upstairs.  

Several friends had called/texted and offered to bring Sunshine home as it was now after 11 pm.  She was scared & worried about Hunter so we decided to keep her with me.  She fell asleep shortly after we got to the surgical waiting room on the 2nd floor.  Since it was the early stages of appendicitis the surgeon felt it wouldn't be more than a 30 minute procedure.   It was after 1 when when came into the waiting room to fill us in.  Everything was textbook, went smoothly & we'd be able to see Hunter very soon.

We finally got home around 3 am & passed out.  Hunter was released that morning & is doing fine.  I think we've all caught up on our sleep & are back to life as we know it.

Still, I want a do over for Sunday.  It was way too crazy for my liking!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

4th Grade & The One About The Microphone

Yesterday was back to school for Sunshine.  Fourth grade, people!  FOURTH!  This cannot be right.  Sunshine is a little girl, not a big kid.  I am so confused.  There is comfort in knowing she's in class with friends--several of them since 1st or 2nd grade.

Her teachers this year are awesome.  She'll be changing classes and will have her home room teacher as well as another teacher for Social Studies & I believe, English Language Arts.  But still, 4th grade.  So cliche, but they really do grow up SO fast!

So, the microphone.

Despite all the years of singing along to records, tapes & the radio in my room, hairbrush in hand--I hate speaking in front of large groups of people with a microphone.  I don't know if it's the actual mic or whether it's just that whole large group thing.  One on one, I'm fine.  I will sit & talk to people's pets.  But running a meeting?  UGH!

Pretty funny for the PTO President to not like speaking in public, huh?  

Tonight is our school's first orientation night.  PreK -2nd is tonight & then the upper grades are on Monday.  Our Principal does a presentation on school policy/procedures & then I'll get to speak.  I've got a fair amount of thing to cover (introduction of board members, recognizing new parents, PTA vs. PTO, volunteer challenge, our FB group, spirit shop, August calendar) so it's not like I'll be done in a few minutes.  

My sister in law is one of those clever people who has taken her special set of skills & turned it into a successful business.  She's a career coach.  Specifically, she helps professionals who are lacking in the presentation/public speaking arena.

Her blog post the other day?  Hit home.  Hit a homer as she'd say (she loves sports analogies).   When I speak to groups, I find that I tend to speak quickly.  I speak quickly anyway---I'm a Northerner & my family is French.  It's just what we do.

I've taken Barbara's advice & have spent the morning practicing my presentation.  BTW, that whole French thing?  Yeah, I also talk with my hands.  By practicing, I found better ways to segue into the next topic or to bump volunteering after talking about the spirit shop since I mention that volunteer forms can be found there. 

I'm not going to lie, I'm still nervous about speaking & it's 6 hours away.  I do feel better prepared & having watched myself in the mirror I've come to realize that my mouth doesn't do that Lovey Howell-Yankee lockjaw facial expression that I'm convinced I do when I speak.   

Now, if I could only figure out what to wear, I'll be fine.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Holy Chowder, People!

The start of the school year is five days away and I am already wiped out!   This week was Verification Day (registration and; the meet/greet, basically) on Thursday and Friday (today).   I spent 4 hours at school on Tuesday folding t shirts, cleaning out our closet and working on another to-do list.  Wednesday found me at school again for for 3 1/2 more hours, followed by another 4 hour shift on Thursday (Day 1 of Verification Day) and another 5 hours today.

Our school asks parents to commit to 10 hours of volunteer time throughout the year, either at school or in the community.  Suffice to say I've done my 10 hours.  Our Principal and Assistant Principal don't believe me when I say I'm done with volunteering for the year & won't be back--I wonder why?!!

Thursday night's registration was crazy busy which was good for the PTO.  The school year hasn't started yet and already I have teachers hitting us up for money!  We give grant money to all faculty members.  Teachers with full time classrooms receive a little more than those teachers who are specialists & visit different classrooms throughout the day.  Our Media Center (and the Super Bookatarian) receives more, as do our Art, Music and PE teachers and Guidance Counselor as they have all students in the school.  

I'm often amazed by the behavior of adults.  It was announced earlier that a friend of mine who taught 4th grade last year would be moving to 3rd grade, which would leave 3 sections (classes) in 4th grade.  As the Principal started to do the roster, he discovered that the 3 sections would be close to maxed out for that age group and a 4th section might be necessary.  This impacted the 3rd grade registrants as they can't meet their teacher if the roster can't be competed right now.  

People, let me tell you, grown adults lost their minds over this.  There was one mother who literally threw a hissy fit in the middle of the hallway after one of the teachers explained the situation.  Then she came to the cafeteria where she threw a mild fit to one of the PTO board members.  I was helping another parent so I didn't hear the entire exchange but Super Bookatarian came to the rescue and tried to diffuse the situation.  Nope, hissy mom threw another hissy fit.

THEN. . .

she got on our Facebook page and began another rant about how HARD it was for her kids not to be able to meet their teachers (they met ALL the teachers for the grade levels) and not see their classrooms (they had the opportunity to see ALL the classrooms).  My VP and  I both commented that our children were in the same situation, as was our Treasurer and oh, about 275 kids.  Do we wish we knew who our teacher was?  Of course.  Will we be okay finding out on Tuesday before school starts? Yes.  Hissy Mommy then went on to say how they toured all the elementary schools in our district before deciding on our school and  purchasing a home in our zone.

Silly girl, so did we.  And so did our VP.  And a host of other families.

If you ever have to wonder why there are so many uber fragile children with a sense of entitlement walking this earth, look no further than their parents.

Kids are more resilient than we give them credit for being.  Sunshine has taught me this in her young life.  

So, my year as PTO President begins.   I'm glad that I'm surrounded by friends on the Executive Board.  Women who are strong, smart, creative and hard workers.  And who have a great sense of humor.  Something tells me we're going to need it this year!