I knew my relationship with you would be complicated, long before I sent my bright-eyed little 5-year-old through your doors seven years ago. I should have seen the warning signs when you turned filling out the enrollment form into a Kafka-esque nightmare, in which the paperwork could only be received and submitted in person, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on a weekday. But I was drawn in by those construction paper flowers on the windows, that close proximity to my house, that free price tag after years of dropping thousands on daycare and twee little preschools. And so I skipped out of work to sign my deal with the devil—and apparently, sign myself up for a flashback to the 1950s.
For even though the year is 2016 and a large majority of the school district’s students come from families where both parents work hard for the money, the school likes to pretend we’re still living in that “Leave it to Beaver” fantasy of the stay-at-home mom in pearls and an apron.
First came the barrage of holidays and half days. I had a plan for covering Veteran’s Day, MLK Day, and even all those religious holidays for religions we don’t practice. But then it seemed like you were just making up reasons to close the school or send the kids home before lunch. Monthly in-services for the teachers. A week’s worth of half days in November for parent-teacher conferences (even though most of the conferences, held for all the working parents, took place in the evening). “We didn’t have a snow day” extra days off. Another week’s worth of half days to ease kids back into the wilds of summer.
Clearly you thought that most families had a mom or a dad at home to take on a Pinterest-feed’s worth of crafts with the kiddos on all those days off. And since I wasn’t ready for my 5-year-old to become a latchkey kid, I hired sitters, and eventually started working from home to accommodate your demanding schedule.
But you weren’t done. Next came the music program and the seasonal concerts, where the kids would get up in color-coordinated outfits with their 50 classmates and sing Kumbaya or about snowmen or dreidels. But instead of holding these in the evening (like my clearly progressive 1980s elementary), or first thing in the a.m., so working parents could try to wheedle a late start out of their bosses, you placed those squarely in the middle of the day: 1:30 p.m. A time that must be convenient for you, but works for absolutely no one else—including the stay-at-home moms you clearly adore, who often had afternoon younger-sibling nap times to contend with. In seven years at the school, my husband can count on one hand the number of concerts he attended in person. And yes, I’ve often had to take conference calls from outside the auditorium, and hope that I don’t miss videoing her five minutes of fame.
And then, of course, there were all the volunteer opportunities. Reading to the class. Throwing class parties for every holiday (with mandated “healthy” snacks that would still feel festive for the students). Helping build a giant cake shaped like the state (what was that you were saying about healthy snacks?). Running the book sale or plant sale or buy your mom and dad holiday gifts with their own money sale. Throwing a massive, schoolwide carnival to celebrate the end of the school year. Setting your child up for disappointment when you can’t possibly volunteer for every committee and class mom opportunity. Hearing about how Timmy’s mom makes it to every single event AND designs the bulletin board, and why can’t you, Mommy? That’s when you really broke my heart, and my kid’s, too.
But even though we can’t entirely quit you, we’re taking a big step closer this year. My oldest heads off to the middle school, where the moms who’ve come before me say that most events take place at working-family-friendly hours.
Of course, you still like to throw a monkey wrench—by having elementary and middle schools have the same start and stop time. I’m already exploring the Sophie’s Choice depths of which child’s first day of school I attend, and figuring out how on earth I will get both kids off to school to two different schools at the very same time each day—and still manage to make it back to get to my work on time. I will miss these days with my kids, but I can’t say I will miss you.
More for Moms with School-Aged Kids:
Summer Vacation Is Coming: 9 Things to Panic About Right Now
All the Things More Effective Than Sex Ed in School
When Should You Stop Letting Your Kids See You Naked?
The post To My Daughter’s School: Stop Acting Like it’s the 1950s appeared first on Momtastic.