High School Confidential

If you want to know the inside story on any high school you need to talk to the person who’s got the deep intel and trust me it’s not the principal or the counselors. The person who can give you a dossier on almost every single student in the school including their current home life situation is the attendance clerk.

Consider this position akin to being a CIA undercover operative. The clerk is a school fixture and like a number 2 pencil often taken for granted. They see, hear and notice things that no one else in the school is privy too. All this imbues the person with super spy skills.

They also talk to the parents a lot. I know that in the seven years I’ve had multiple children attending high school that I’ve conversed with Rita, the attendance clerk, more than anyone else at the school combined. In fact, I can’t imagine my life without Rita. She’s so important to my family I’ve got her on speed dial. Rita is my high school touchstone and perhaps part therapist.

A couple of weeks ago, in a seven-day time frame, my 16-year old was diagnosed with a sinus infection, strep throat, had her foot x-rayed because I was sure it was broken, had some weird tooth thing going on (It turn turns out is was iron buildup from Flintstone vitamins. Go figure?) and got a mild concussion. During that time I also couldn’t find my car keys (Can you blame me? I was highly stressed.)

Sweet Rita was there for me through it all.

When I had to get my child out of school early for the dentist she didn’t even flinch when I mentioned I was sure my daughter had a rare tooth fungus that due to extreme googling I discovered was usually only seen deep in the Amazon jungle. By the time I called her about the foot and head injuries I was certain she was going to notify CPS and have them do a home visit.

And then on that Friday morning when I had to do a mea culpa about my kid being tardy due to the fact that I, the grown up, couldn’t find my car keys she was so kind and understanding it was like getting a hug over the phone. Rita gets me.

It’s not just the absences and tardies that Rita is privy to. She also knows all about your kid’s schedule. If my daughter has to leave school a smidge early she knows it’s for a dance competition. (Fun fact: Rita danced  back in the day and I have no doubt she still has killer moves.)

This woman could write a black ops paper on my family. A who, what, when and where along with a psychological profile. If high schools want to know more about what’s going on with their students they need to have their attendance clerks give daily briefings.

If Rita gave one for my family this past month it would have gone like this. “I’m a little worried about this family and you might want to check Bella’s grades. The student has had a rough week of assorted illnesses, and I think the mom might have unnecessarily dragged her in for an x-ray. Not to mention there was a concussion and a tooth issue. Unrelated, but let’s keep on eye of this girl’s head and teeth. Also, I’m pretty sure this has created some stress issues at home. The mom called this morning about a tardy. She couldn’t find her car keys – again.”

If knowledge is power than every high school needs a Rita.

 

 

School Blues

Screen Shot 2015-08-28 at 10.32.47 AMI’m about to doing something that terrifies me. I’m going to bad mouth my school district. (Just to get the courage to say that I had to fortify myself with not one, but two Rice Krispy treats.)

I know this is something you are never, ever supposed to do. Once your move into an area with one of the top performing schools in the country you’re supposed to drink the Kool Aid.

Well, I’m going tell you that right now that Kool Aid is a little off like when you mix the classic cherry flavored Kool Aid with something called Arctic Green Apple and you think, “Wow, something’s not right there.”

Now, before you start sending me hate emails (And just so you know I’m still recovering from all the Rolling Stone backlash. So please no more threats to my person or property.) give me a couple of sentences to explain myself. I’m not talking about the people doing the heavy lifting – the teachers. What I’m perplexed about is the let’s call them higher-ups in the district and I’m not alone in this feeling.

Last week at a mom back-to-school confab featuring a cross-section of awesome women I took a deep breath and shared, “I think something is wrong with the district?” I’m not going to lie. I was a little scared what would happen after I dropped that bomb. But, surprise, surprise, a lot of moms agreed with me. We started swapping stories of the recent idiocy we had experienced and that’s when I decided to throw caution and my email account to the wind and write this blog.

Because I adore my friends I will only share a tidbit of what I have experienced. The first foray this school year that left me feeling a little WTH? was earlier this month.

My daughter’s schedule had a problem and I needed to talk to someone about the issue. (And yes, I sent an email thus not violating the school’s golden rule of preferred communication. And yes this was not an issue she could “self advocate.”) Let’s just say I would have had an easier time getting a Time Warner or a Comcast representative on the phone and when I did get a human to talk to me I was not so gently shoved off to another number (at one point I was told to call the district’s IT department – huh?) and multiple people redirected me to the school’s website!

Really you’re going to tell a mom of a high school sophomore to check the website? Like this is my first rodeo or something? Are you kidding me? Why didn’t you just say, “We don’t care and our goal is to get off the phone with you as quickly as possible?”

Oh and about that website. It was hostile. Lot’s of all caps and yellow highlighted passages that let you know whoever wrote it and approved it thinks parents are a great big pain and time suck. (Note to all high performing school districts – one of the reasons your schools “perform” so well is because of the parents who care deeply about public education.)

It’s not like I don’t know and appreciate how busy the administration is but come on a high school with less than 1,500 students is not a multinational company. You can communicate with a parent. And I wasn’t doing the “I think I’m important and I want help right now” thing. All I wanted was someone to get back to me in a timely fashion.

Well, I’m not ashamed to admit to you that I finally hit the wall and went full cray. Full cray, mind you, at an In-N-Out Burger parking lot in Los Angeles. The reason being is because in California you can’t drive and talk on your phone. So, when my full cray episode exploded I turned into the closest parking lot I could find which just happened to be an In-N-Out.

Now, going full cray at your kid’s school is a delicate operation. You can’t be the parent that is always grousing. No one will take your concerns seriously if you’re a chronic complainer and if you have multiple kids in school you have to pace yourself. Right now, I’m in the cray sweet spot. I have one child left in school and that meant it was on like Donkey Kong.

I got out of my car, thus allowing me room for full arm gesticulation, because you can’t go cray without dramatic and robust upper body movements, and called the school. Finally, someone talked to me. Finally, my problem got worked out. Bonus, a group of folks eating lunch outside the In-N-Out applauded after I got off the phone. I did exactly what you would have done. I took a bow and then got a double double with cheese.

*cover_1.3-2Attention Snarky Friends, I have a new book out and for a limited time only it’s just 99 cents for a heaping helping of Snark! You are now gazing at the second book in the Snarky in the Suburbs series – Snarky in the Suburbs Trouble In Texas. You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.  It’s also available for the Nook or you can get it for your Kobo reader. Click on a link and give it a test read.  I hope you like it! 🙂

Myth Buster – High School Edition

feaa3136c2467fb3937d02a894a4397c-1You know what no one has ever asked me to do? Deliver a high school graduation speech. Not even when I was graduating high school did I make the “give a speech” cut. So, I didn’t have a stellar GPA and wasn’t going to Harvard. And yeah, maybe my dad did have to, as he so succinctly put it, “pick up the phone” to get me into Baylor, but still I had some good things to say back then and now, well, hello to years of wisdom that could benefit the 17-18 demographic.

Guess what all this means? Oh yeah, I’m going to “gift you” with the high school graduation speech I wish I could give. Don’t panic, I promise no reflections on my teenage glory years primarily because there weren’t any. Here it goes and lucky for you I’m feeling a little lazy so consider this the condensed or mini version.

Give me a second to get in the mood. I’m humming my high school’s fight school as inspiration. Now, I’m clearing my throat and imagining myself walking to the podium while getting one of those super braggy introductions that makes everyone sitting in the audience hate you just a little bit.

Okay, I made it to the podium. I didn’t trip and I managed to swing my hair. You know, one of those flirty, kind of sassy hair swings. A sort of look at me, I’m smart and have voluminous hair so go ahead and hate me some more.

Yes, I know I’m not that smart and my hair has to be coaxed into voluminous territory with a shopping cart full of product and the art of the extreme back comb, but it’s my faux reality and/or dream sequence and I say why not imagine the best. Seriously, who would want to visualize the “authentic truth?” It sounds like some goofy thing Oprah would say.

Enough of the visualization nonsense let’s go straight to the speech. Where did I leave off? Oh yes, I was at the podium. I look out at the audience, nod, smile and begin by dropping a bomb. I’m talking a big bomb, like the crowd gasps and then one lone member of the audience stands up and cheers, “You tell it sister!”  And another person spurred on by the “you tell it” jumps up and hollers, “Amen!”

I gain back control and then swing my hair again, just because I can, and begin to explain, some might say even justify, the bomb I dropped. To do this I have to repeat the bomb again because I’m nothing if not a lover of dramatic effect (and really who isn’t?).

As I’m preparing to repeat myself for second time I’m hoping the school marching band in attendance would give me a drum roll. Oh yes, a drum roll would be ideal, almost goose bump inducing. Wait, if this is my imagination of me giving a high school speech then why can’t I have a drum roll? Hmm, I totally see no reason why I can’t. Let’s back this story up a bit and now add in drum roll.

So just to review, I’m at the podium. My hair looks amazing. I’ve dropped a bombshell. I’ve gotten two cheers, so to speak, based on said bomb. I’ve nodded, cued the band for a drum roll and now that the stirring drum roll is over I’m about to resume my speech by restating the single sentence that made the crowd go all “Oh no she didn’t” on me. For clarity purposes no one said “oh no she didn’t,” but that’s what I imagine the crowd was thinking.

I then repeat the 10 words that shocked the audience – High school is not the best time of your life.

You can’t think I’m wrong for fantasizing saying this at every high school graduation? And let’s be honest here, would you want the four years you spend suffering through assemblies and AP exams to be the pinnacle of your human voyage? More importantly, who wants to peak at 17? Who would want the next 60 years of their life to be ho-hum, just sort of OK, compared to lunch sophomore year? Hopefully, no one because it would be a tragedy.

The myth that your high school years will be the greatest life has to offer needs to be eradicated. I consider it part of a teenage mental health initiative. Think of the severe bouts of depression that could be averted if, at the start of each school year, a banner graced the entrance to every high school that read, “Relax, these aren’t going to be the best four years of your life. Trust us, it gets better.”

And it does. It gets so much better. The simple fact that I don’t have Algebra 2 homework every night has increased my joy of life exponentially. Now, who needs a graduation speaker? I’m available.

*Attencover_1.3-2tion Snarky Friends, I have a brand new book out. It’s the second in the Snarky in the Suburbs series – Snarky in the Suburbs Trouble In Texas. You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.  It’s also available for the Nook or you can get it for your Kobo reader. Click on a link and give it a test read.  I hope you like it! 🙂

The Homecoming “Ask”

fry-and-homecoming_o_794867

There’s a social scourge plaguing high schools that calls for immediate eradication. I’m talking about the new(ish) ritual of asking a girl to homecoming. No longer can a boy walk up to a girl at lunch or after class and casually go, “Hey, do have a date for homecoming?”

No longer can the girl respond with a nonchalant, “No, not yet.”

No longer can the boy volley back, “So, like, maybe do you want to go together?”

(Excuse me while I get a bit misty eyed because this almost sounds like my husband’s marriage proposal.)

The simple, low-key, “Do you want to go to homecoming?” is no longer acceptable. A production has to made out of the “ask” and the more elaborate the better.

A guy can go lower tier and do a sign on a piece of poster board that has a cute saying, usually related to food, as in – “I do nut know what I’ll do if you don’t go to homecoming with me.” This sign, of course, must be accompanied by a dozen Krispy Kremes. (Don’t make the rookie mistake of getting grocery store doughnuts.)

The more impressive “ask” involves some sort of public male groveling. Like the sophomore who staked out the front of the school in police tape, did a chalk outline of his body, with a sign that read, “I can’t live without you for my homecoming date.”

Now, I know these two examples are just darling, right? And provided the girl with an Instagram opportunity where she can show off how she was asked to homecoming. But, I as a mother to both a teenage girl and boy, I’m here to tell you this is all wrong.

In fact, I was so curious about how asking a girl out became an event so photo-op worthy that you could make a coffee table book out of all the pictures, that I did some research. It appears, all of this started about 10 years with the “Promposal” and of course, in a surprise to no one, was fueled by the Internet. The better the promposal the more of a chance it might go viral.

And, I’m going to have point a finger at all the moms out there. This Broadway-esque production of asking a girl out would have not taken off without the help of mothers.

No boy would ever be able to pull any of this off, let alone think of an idea, without his mom doing all the heavy lifting. Because is there any life form lazier and more clueless about the world-at-large than a 14-year-old male? Seriously, they’re still formulating fart jokes. To expect a freshman boy to come up with a cutesy, lovey-dovey homecoming date “ask” falls under the category of never going to happen. In fact, most of the “signs” I see on Instagram are, without a doubt, written by women that were drilled in the ways of cursive handwriting back in the 1970’s.

The reasons I think this jacked up way of asking a girl out is fraught with peril is multi leveled. Primarily, it means fewer girls will get asked to homecoming or prom because most guys when it comes to dating are a combination of slackers and scaredy cats. What man, never mind teenaged boy, wants to risk doing a big la-di-da production and then get shot down. I mean, hello, that’s going to hurt. Who can blame them for staying home, eating Cheetos and playing Halo 3?

The long-term implication is that, I believe, it impedes the teaching of a life lesson all girls should master sooner than later – men, as a general rule, are not gifted romantics. Learn it and move on. Don’t be standing around waiting for Lance Romance to show up because you know what happens when you do that? Mr. Right just walks on by and you don’t even notice. Then you end up on the Bachelor looking for love and embarrassing your family by being topless in a hot tub, one millimeter away from full nipple exposure, making out with some sleazy dude on national television.

I have been married for multiple decades and I can honestly say my husband, the best of men, has only done something romantic maybe three times. And each time it scared me. I thought he was being all smoochy sweet because he had a head injury and was suffering massive brain trauma.

Now, to really take a walk on the unpopular side I will propose to you that the more romantic the man the less you should trust him. Because you know who was described as being a killer romantic? Ted Bundy. (And please, I beg of you, no emails telling me how romantic your husband, a non serial killer, is. I’m talking in general terms here. I know romance is out there, just not at my house.)

So let’s join together parents and urge our teenagers to kick it old school. Boys just ask a girl out and for you girls out there isn’t it more important to just to go to the game and dance than wait it out for an “Instagram worthy” ask?

Let me answer that for you. It’s yes.

*Attencover_1.3-2tion Snarky Friends I have a new book out and for a limited time only it’s just 99 cents for a heaping helping of Snark! You are now gazing at the second book in the Snarky in the Suburbs series – Snarky in the Suburbs Trouble In Texas. You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.  It’s also available for the Nook or you can get it for your Kobo reader. Click on a link and give it a test read.  I hope you like it! 🙂

 

 

Back-to-School Night: The Teen Years

 

a1e412a1ac370de5ec9c05c9c068bd20There are three primary reasons I go to the high school back-to-school night. The main one is for visual evidence of what the school personnel looks like. So, when a child starts describing their teacher as the devil I can interject that I saw neither horns, cloven hoofs nor a tail when I sat in their classroom for ten minutes.

Another reason is to get an overview of what their day is like. I want to be able to look at my watch and know at 11 o’clock my daughter is in Spanish in the classroom with a view of a courtyard that needs a mega weed and feed application. I’m sure somewhere, in all those abundant and varied school fees I paid for my child to have the privilege of attending a public school, there was a line item for landscape beautification. At the very least the Booster Club should make a trip to Lowe’s.

The other, I’ll call it, lesser reason, I go is to people watch. My first order of business is to enjoy the beauty that is the administrative staff. I know, I have mentioned before, that the principal at the high school my children attend is gorgeous and the assistant principal is just as easy on the eyes. Were they GQ models before pursing a career in education? I’m thinking probably.

You should have seen the line of moms circling these two as they held court in the underclassman locker area. I, not wanting to be that obvious, (because you know talking about it in a blog is totally covert) stood back and took it all in from across the hall.

After that I proceeded to my daughter’s first class and was given a reality check that the more things change the more they stay the same. I went to sit down and was told by two women that the seat I was lowering myself into was being “saved for a friend.” Seriously, grown women are still “saving seats”? Say hello to me time traveling back 30 years and getting told to move from the cool kids lunch table. I, having taken a pledge, administered by my daughter, to “not embarrass her at back to school night” kept my mouth shut and found another seat but I did give them an audible sigh and what I thought was an impressive eye roll.

As the evening progressed I was amused by the parents that still haven’t learned back to school night is all about sitting down, shutting up, gazing at the wonder that is the teacher’s PowerPoint and then continuing on to the next class. This is not the forum to approach the teacher and sing the praises of your “gifted” cherub or, and this maybe my favorite moment of the evening, talk to the Spanish teacher in Spanish about your muy talented “niño.” Can you say show off?

No, I take that back, that wasn’t my favorite moment. My most favorite thing about back to school night is the mixed message you receive from almost every teacher. While they’re churning through their presentation they will tell you that your child must learn to “self advocate” and be “independent.” They said self advocate so much I began to believe they were get paid by some sort of for-profit self advocate alliance to shill for them.

Now, here’s where the mixed message comes in. As you are being told to let kids fend for themselves, to grow, to embrace emerging adulthood you are also given cutting edge tools to stalk their every move. There’s Parent Vue on the school website where you can find out everything from what your kid had for lunch down to the sodium consumption (okay, that’s a very slight exaggeration) to the grade they got on a PE homework assignment. Then there’s Edmodo, which I’m almost certain was set up by a joint task force of Homeland Security, the FBI and the CIA. Here, you can creep on almost anything your kid does in class so much so it’s almost like your right there with them in Honors English minus the smell wafting in from the cafeteria.

I have no doubt by next semester they’ll have kids wearing heart rate monitors throughout the school day so from home, work, even the grocery store, we can go online and check and see if our darlings seem stressed or if their vital signs are in the normal range.

So, if I may raise my hand and ask a question to the schools out there – which is it? Do you want us to let our kids make mistakes, figure it out on their own and grow in the process or do you want us virtually in the classroom?

This mom needs an answer.

**For more Snarky check out my book  Snarky in the Suburbs Back to School. 

Here’s a little ditty about it: The Spring Creek Elementary School PTA board (a coven of Mean Moms dressed in Uggs, yoga pants, and dermal filler) is up to no good. Wynn Butler (middle-aged, uncool, and not bringing sexy back) is determined to find out what’s going on. With help from her two kids, a Roomba vacuum turned mobile surveillance drone, and a few good friends, Wynn launches a covert investigation that leads to the “mother of all revenge capers” at the school’s annual Fall Festival. If you’ve ever fantasized about smoke bombing the idiot parent who has yet to master the fine art of the school drop-off lane, or standing up and shouting, “Liar, liar, Botox on fire” during a PTA meeting, then this delicious tale of payback is for you.

To stay up-to-date on new posts and take part in my not so deep thoughts click on this Facebook link – http://is.gd/iEgnJ (That’s the abbreviated link to my FB page) or I twitter @snarkynsuburbs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your K-12 Cheat Sheet

Screen Shot 2014-05-16 at 12.42.20 PMTomorrow I will be the mother of a high school graduate. (Excuse me while I wipe away the tears.)This means that I have done a complete maternal tour of duty of the K thru 12 experience. Like any mother who has reached this milestone I have emotional and physical school project scars from poster boards, glue guns, and dioramas. I still experience lingering episodes of homework related rage and two words can trigger an episode of PTSD – field trip. I’m sure I’m not the only mom who has cried herself to sleep on more than one occasion because she knew in the morning she was chaperoning an all day field trip that required three hours of travel time on a school bus.  

Because I’m a giver, I feel it is only right that I share some of the wisdom I have gleaned from this parenting journey. As always, feel free to take notes.  

Tip 1: Volunteer Early and Often  

Get your foot in the classroom door early. Sure, you don’t want to be THAT mom who lives at the school but you want to make sure you’re getting a peek into the inner workings of the classroom. Yes, you want to help the teacher and your kid thinks it’s awesome to have his mom at school. Who care’s about that, (okay, you should sort of care about that) the real reason you want to be in that classroom is to do your own little FBI profile on each kid. Because here’s the deal, the girl who is mean in second grade is usually still mean in 11th grade. Argue this point with me all you want but I stand by this statement.  

Tip 2: Force Yourself to Go on a Field Trip

Get a sitter for you little one that’s still at home, take the day off work, just make it happen because spending seven hours on the road with your kid’s class is like putting everyone’s personality under a microscope. You find what cliques kid’s separate into, who has severe motions sickness (don’t discount the value of this knowledge), whose parents pack them crappy lunches (trust me every lunch tells a story) and if your kid’s teacher is a screamer. You really don’t know a teacher until you see him or her in a free range environment.  

Tip 3: Don’t Bounce a $10 check to the PTO

Long story but it’s goes something like this; I changed banks and accidentally used the “discontinued” check book. This resulted in an embarrassing phone call about my bounced check and the “service” fee the PTO was charging me (which was much more than the $10 check). For years, I felt like I was being financially tracked and monitored by the PTO. Seriously, I don’t think I was imagining all the side eye I was getting.  

Tip 4: Attend Field Day 

This is your opportunity to bear witnesses to all the parents who think they’re cool. Pay close attention to when the aggressive, sporty dads show up to turn a simple field day activity into the X Games elementary school edition. Also be on high alert for the moms who take 15 hours of “muscle confusion” classes a week displaying their charms. This is when you need to get out your phone and pull up your list maker app. Any dad who is yelling at first graders to hit the bean bag target harder and to really kill it at the Frisbee toss should go on your “Do Not Want this Dad Ever as a Coach” list. As for those hot moms they go another list and I’ll let you figure out what to call it.  

Tip #5: Beware of the School Drop Off & Pick Up Jerks

If there is a parent who still hasn’t mastered the school pick up and drop off lane by the end of the school year the most prudent decision you can make is to severely limited your exposure to them for the duration of your parenting journey. Why? Because they are either idiots of the highest order or they are huge a holes. I’m talking the worst kind of a holes. The ones that think they are so special and so important that even rules made to protect children don’t apply to them. Cutting in line with their SUV, jumping the curb, going the wrong way – they don’t care because it is always and always will be all about them.

Tip 6: It’s a Marathon So Pace Yourself

Pick and choose your battles carefully. The squeaky wheel may get the grease but after a while the principal and school staff will stop hearing the squeak. If you have more than one kid you have to be extremely particular about your complaining quota. You really can’t go full crazy until your last child is in their last year at a school. And yes, in case you’re wondering, to date, I have had two full crazy episodes. Not that I’m bragging or anything.  

Now, there are times when I think that I may not be following my own advice. I just found out the counselor that shepherded my son through four years of high school and would be doing the same for my daughter, a soon to be incoming freshman, is not just leaving the school but she’s transferring to another district. You don’t think she’s running away from me do you?

**For more Snarky check out my book  Snarky in the Suburbs Back to School. 

Here’s a little ditty about it: The Spring Creek Elementary School PTA board (a coven of Mean Moms dressed in Uggs, yoga pants, and dermal filler) is up to no good.  Wynn Butler (middle-aged, uncool, and not bringing sexy back) is determined to find out what’s going on. With help from her two kids, a Roomba vacuum turned mobile surveillance drone, and a few good friends, Wynn launches a covert investigation that leads to the “mother of all revenge capers” at the school’s annual Fall Festival.  If you’ve ever fantasized about smoke bombing the idiot parent who has yet to master the fine art of the school drop-off lane, or standing up and shouting, “Liar, liar, Botox on fire” during a PTA meeting, then this delicious tale of payback is for you. 

To stay up-to-date on new posts and take part in my not so deep thoughts click on this Facebook link – http://is.gd/iEgnJ (That’s the abbreviated link to my FB page) or I twitter @snarkynsuburbs.

Brain Teaser

Screen Shot 2014-04-17 at 11.00.14 AMI’m feeling perturbed. I was up at my son’s high and noticed nothing had been done about a complaint, well really more of a concern, that I had shared with the principal, in what I thought, was a very nice and chatty email, a freaking year ago.

The equally chatty, somewhat new and I’m just going to say it, handsome, very handsome principal (Okay, so I may have a bit of a mom crush on the principal, big deal. I also had a mom crush on my son’s elementary school principal. Oh my, this has just gotten awkward) had gotten right back to me after I wrote the email and due to the quickness of his response I figured action had been taken. Wrong. Because as I walking through the school gigantic posters, really more like face flags (I’m telling you the quality of the photography and the flag fabric is top-notch) of students holding balls or ball hitting implements were staring at me.

I had no complaint with the lovely posters, flags, whatever, of student athletes. What I did have a concern about was the quid pro quo of it all. Because just around the corner, in a dimly lit hallway, are teeny tiny 5 X 7 photos that look like they were the by-product a mediocre laser jet printer of the National Merit Semifinalists and Commended Scholars. WTH? And this is why I wrote the principal last year. I figured I was the perfect person to spearhead this concern since, at that time; I was not the mother of an athlete or a scholar.

In my email I asked the principal why the National Merit kids couldn’t have posters 10 times the size of their heads? In a delightful phone call he explained that the Parent Booster Club paid for the posters. I shared that I’m sure the National Merit kids parents, would with glee, shell out money for a face flag. Because he was so charming, I figured I had wooed him to my way of thinking.

I’m now more than a little angry and adding fuel to my fury is that I recently heard the author of the new book The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way talking about how no other country in world let’s sports dominates their schools the way America does. (P.S. We’re currently ranked 36th in math.) Now before you get all upset I do not want to see sports de-emphasized. I’m a Texas girl and I was raised on high school football but I was wondering what’s stopping us from shining the same LED floodlight on academics.

For instance, why don’t we start recruiting math teachers with the same zeal we use for football coaches? Instead of win loss records we could have teacher stats. As an example, “Mrs. Smith is currently leading the state in the number of students getting a 5 (highest score) on their Calculus Advanced Placement test and more than 63% of her former students have sought post-graduate degrees with an average income of well over six figures.”

Even better would be the pep rallies. I would suggest holding at least two. One in the fall when most students take their first SAT or ACT and one in late spring when the AP tests occur.

Think of the cheers – “Tangent, derivative, theorem, aren’t so hard because you’ve studied they’re your lucky charms.”

Or this one for AP Euro History. “French Revolution, Russian too, don’t forget to write an amazing FRQ!”

I can already see the marching band playing the theme song from the Big Bang Theory as a salute to the quantum theory portion of the AP Physics exam.

Imagine a world where instead of telling just athletes to be a-g-g-r-e-s-s-i-v-e we would instead use that same cheer on the brave, young, souls about to embark on the biggest battle of their teen years – the SAT’s.

“Competitive colleges are okay but you’ve got highly selective wanting you after today!”

The best part of all is that it would be so easy to do. What’s a couple more pep rallies and huge face flags. For sure, you would want those.

**For more Snarky check out my book  Snarky in the Suburbs Back to School. 

Here’s a little ditty about it: The Spring Creek Elementary School PTA board (a coven of Mean Moms dressed in Uggs, yoga pants, and dermal filler) is up to no good.  Wynn Butler (middle-aged, uncool, and not bringing sexy back) is determined to find out what’s going on. With help from her two kids, a Roomba vacuum turned mobile surveillance drone, and a few good friends, Wynn launches a covert investigation that leads to the “mother of all revenge capers” at the school’s annual Fall Festival.  If you’ve ever fantasized about smoke bombing the idiot parent who has yet to master the fine art of the school drop-off lane, or standing up and shouting, “Liar, liar, Botox on fire” during a PTA meeting, then this delicious tale of payback is for you. 

To stay up-to-date on new posts and take part in my not so deep thoughts click on this Facebook link – http://is.gd/iEgnJ (That’s the abbreviated link to my FB page) or I twitter @snarkynsuburbs.

Five Ways to Get Out of Volunteering At Your Kid’s School

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It starts in late summer with emails from the PTO alerting you to various “fulfilling” volunteer opportunities awaiting you at your kid’s school. On the first day of your school your child’s backpack is stuffed with sheets of colorful copy paper – each one proselytizing a “fun” volunteer gig. By the second week of school you’re being solicited as you wait in your car in the after school pick up line. Week three of the new school year the gloves are off and you feel a little like you’re being bullied into chairing the school spirit wear sale. When week four hits you give in from equal parts sheer exhaustion and because you get the feeling some of the other moms are talking about you and not in a good way.

Now, before you tape this list to your refrigerator please be advised that I have loved volunteering at my children’s schools. In fact, I have met my best mom friends from doing my volunteer due diligence. But there are times in one’s life when you need a pass from tallying up the school gift wrap orders which is why this handy list was created.

1) Have another baby. A newborn will get out of any volunteer duty. Just showing up at school with your bundle of joy is akin to wearing a sign that says “Leave Me the Hell Alone!” But beware by the time that baby celebrates it’s second birthday you will be considered back on the market and hit up with a vengeance. After all, you’ve had  a “two year break”.

2) Volunteer Outside the School. This one will buy you a year max. But it has to be a substantial volunteer opportunity with not just any organization. It should be high-profile – say Junior League president or chairing the Symphony Guild. Being a Cub Scout Den mother won’t do anything for you. In fact, it could hurt you as in – “Well since you’re already doing the popcorn sale for the Cub Scouts it would be sooo easy for you to just tack on chairing the school’s cookie dough fundraiser. I mean they’re like pretty much the same thing – right?”

3) Start a New Job. Tread carefully when using this one and make sure the words part-time job don’t enter into your career description. Which means even if it is part-time or a home based business as far as anyone on any committee at your kid’s school is concerned you’re putting in 40 plus hours a week.

But be warned this is not a “forever” excuse. It’s simply a single “get out of being a committee chair” voucher. The whole job thing in the school volunteer lexicon is meaningless because there’s always a mom who is a cardiovascular surgeon and is piloting her own jet to Syria two days a week to perform life saving medical treatment with the International Committee of the Red Cross AND is treasurer of the PTO.

4) Get New Agey. Share that you are restructuring your life and prioritizing your family’s goals to enhance pivotal bonding moments and increase your spiritual connection to the Sun Goddess Shemesh therefore leaving you with zero time for “other world” commitments. Sure, there will be talk that you’ve booked first class passage on the Space Shuttle Cra Cra with non stop service to WTF but I can guarantee not only will you be left alone but people will be wary of making eye contact with you.

5) Volunteer for the Big One. By this I mean agree to chair your school’s biggest fundraiser. Oh, I know it sounds counter intuitive, but trust me one big volunteer commitment is your get out of jail free card for YEARS. Here’s how I suggest playing this for optimum long-term impact. When your eldest child is in third grade bite the bullet and say an enthusiastic yes to the fundraiser. While chairing the fundraiser let it be known about all the hard work you’re putting in, the hours it’s stealing away from your precious family, and for extra measure I always like to throw in that it’s causing just the tiniest bit of marital discord. All of this is excellent info to share at any PTO meeting when you’re asked to do an update.

After the fundraiser is done and has exceeded expectations, because who are we kidding you were in charge and of course that means fundraising records were set, you then ride off into the school volunteer sunset. What all this means is for the rest of your tenure as a parent with school aged children you can use the excuse that you Chaired the (insert name of fundraiser here) back in (insert year here) and you really are still recovering. No one will dare challenge that statement and instead will look at you with awe and in some cases eyes aglow with reverence and thank you for your service. Sure, it’s was months of hard work, but if you do the math and extrapolate that over the years your kids are in school you’ll find that it’s a cost benefit analysis winner!

***For all things wonderfully Snarky go to www.snarkygear.com where you can find the new fall Snarky line of clothing and accessories. Plus, there’s my book – Snarky in the Suburbs Back to School. (Click here for purchase information.)

Here’s a little ditty about it: The Spring Creek Elementary School PTA board (a coven of Mean Moms dressed in Uggs, yoga pants, and dermal filler) is up to no good.  Wynn Butler (middle-aged, uncool, and not bringing sexy back) is determined to find out what’s going on. With help from her two kids, a Roomba vacuum turned mobile surveillance drone, and a few good friends, Wynn launches a covert investigation that leads to the “mother of all revenge capers” at the school’s annual Fall Festival.  If you’ve ever fantasized about smoke bombing the idiot parent who has yet to master the fine art of the school drop-off lane, or standing up and shouting, “Liar, liar, Botox on fire” during a PTA meeting, then this delicious tale of payback is for you. 

To stay up-to-date on new posts and take part in my not so deep thoughts click on this Facebook link – http://is.gd/iEgnJ (That’s the abbreviated link to my FB page) or I twitter @snarkynsuburbs.

Parent Teacher Conference – By the Numbers

1236465_612764895442080_848344258_nThe Parent Teacher Conference is one you either look forward to because your seven-year-old little bundle of joy is reading at a college level thus providing you with the opportunity to sit back, sniff an Elmer’s glue stick and bask in the praise being heaped on your budding genius.

For others the conference event ranks right up there with getting your annual pap smear.  As a veteran of many Parent Teacher Conferences I will confess that some years it’s all good and other years, if given the choice, I would pick getting up close and personal with a speculum.  As your kids get older the whole parent teacher conference vibe changes.

No longer do they just have one teacher, they have eight. This leaves parents hanging out in the hallways waiting their turn for the various teacher meet and greets. To make this occasion even better no one closes the damn door when they go in to meet with teacher thus giving people like me (curious and concerned) the chance to share in everyone’s conference experience.

Due to my superior knowledge gathering abilities I’m able to present to you this edition of: Parent Teacher Conference By the Numbers.

11 Moms in yoga pants.  The time has come to “out” the yoga pant. It’s just the 21st century version of the black stirrup pant risen from the fashion ashes of the 1980’s (I’m sure the stirrup pant had to bitch slap the shoulder pad to see who would climb out of the ash heap first) and reborn, stirrup-less and with a trendy, sporty name. Ladies, we all know yoga pants are super comfy, but sometimes you have to peel off the cotton/lycra athletic wear and put on some real clothes. Trust me, if you can insert your legs and then use your super toned arms to yank those yoga pants up and over your firm butts all the way to the land of flat abs then you can do the exact same maneuver to get yourself into jeans, cords or gasp, a pair of dry clean only pants.   It’s exactly the same except you also have to work a zipper and a button.  I know it sounds really hard, but hang tough.  Don’t let a little thing like a zipper and button get you down. I’ve got faith in your fine motor skills and by golly it will give those nifty opposable thumbs a workout too.

For the two yoga pants on the bottom, athletic bra on the top moms that “worked” the conference into their running schedule you get a special shout out.  Please note, I have nothing against marathoners. I applaud their dedication, self-discipline and resting heart rate. It’s that I just don’t care to hear people proselytize about their workouts.  These two chicks over shared, again and again, that they had just “road slammed 13 miles” because they were “training for the New York Marathon in an effort to BQ”.  Which I found out means qualify for the Boston Marathon.  Silly me, I thought they were talking about BBQ.  Imagine my embarrassment when I asked them, “Wow, they have that good of barbecue in New York City?”

The marathon mom with terminal torpedo nipples that looked like they were trying to drill their way out of her jog bra sneered at me with disgust and said, “God, how would I know.  I haven’t had beef since 1992. Besides I said B.Q. not BBQ.”

I said, “Oh sorry” and then asked her if I had any gristle in my teeth. (Seriously, what a witch.)

Those moms needed to run along home, shower and come back. Their beef free sweat stench combined with what I’m pretty sure is urine was making me queasy.  I think one of them may have an incontinence issue that’s been aggravated by pounding the pavement.  May l suggest “Depends for the Girl on the Go” or at the very least a full coverage panty with a deluxe cotton crotch lining instead of the thong peeking out of the back of their yoga pants. With all that running I would think the thong would really irritate your butt crack.  Lord, think of the friction.  I’m surprised it hasn’t worked like a saw and cleaved both women in two or at the very least given them a case of double crack or as it’s referred to in medical terms – a double vertical.  That’s when you have a butt crack that’s twice the normal size.  Just another reason why I don’t run.

Here’s a brain teaser for you – What’s the maximum number of family that can show up for one child’s conference?  According to my data the answer is 8 Family Members.  That’s one mom, one dad, one step-dad, one dad’s girlfriend, two grandmothers, one aunt, one adult step-child.  Yes, indeed it was a blended family festival.  I struck up a conservation with the chatty paternal grandmother and praised her for being so involved in her grandchild’s life.  As predicted that sweet statement got her talking.  She explained that she was here less for the grandchild and more as a support system for her “poor” son who got the “shaft in the divorce.”  As for the adult stepchild and the aunt they were both “certified education professionals.”

According to grandma, “One was a substitute teacher on occasion and the other worked as a day care helper, but they both know a lot about school stuff.”  As for that girlfriend the Dad brought, and couldn’t seem to keep his hands off of, I never talked to her, but I pretty sure she was dragged along for the sole purpose of being a “F You” from the dad to the mom.  I wish you could have seen this crew.  They couldn’t even walk through a door without bickering about who would go in first and where they would sit.   The geometry teacher gently suggested that the biological parents of the student sit in the two chairs provided and the rest stand.  The grandmas didn’t like that one bit. They both got the chairs.

7 Violating the school dress code moms Yes, I know I’ve beaten this horse to death, but, too bad. I’m back on the subject of hot moms. I stopped counting when I easily reached 7 moms who were in violation of the school dress code.  At what age do we get over the fact that we have breasts?  I ask this because it seems that we have a need to bare our middle to lower boob well into middle age.  Do we do this so we don’t forget we have them? Do hoisting our girls up and way out of our tops serve as a fleshy post it note? A “don’t forget these are yours” reminder

I also encountered a new species of hot mom during the Parent Teacher Conference. The Harley Mom. This bad girl was decked out in Harley gear.  Which can best be described as a bedazzled Harley t-shirt and a ridiculous biker hat that has all that skull and crossbones crap all over it. But here’s the thing that propelled this mother to the Hot Mom Hall of Fame – She was in shorts, flip-flops and chaps. Yeah, that’s right, freaking chaps.   (Please note: This is my second chap sighting in less than 3 months. I’m getting alarmed.) Not just any chaps, mind you but black chaps with a hot pink stripe down the side. I was mesmerized and had to strike up a conversation with this Biker Babe.  As an ice breaker I commented that her “hair sure looked good for just getting off a motorcycle.”

She stared at me for a second and said, “I didn’t ride a motorcycle here.  I drove my car.”

Intrigued, I blurted out, “Really, then why the chaps?”

She quickly answered back, “Oh, I’m breaking them in.”

Still curious I go for it with, ”You have to break in chaps?”

“Yes, they’re leather and you need to wear them so they can form to your shape.”

Now, the whole shorts thing makes sense so I ask, “Is that why you’re in shorts so the leather can form to your legs better?”

She gives me a confused look and says, “No, I’m wearing shorts because they match my shirt.”  With that statement the Harley Mom is catapulted to Stupidest Hot Mom status.

6 Really Important Parents  Congratulations you have a very demanding job that requires your constant and steadfast dedication to your phone. I get it, your better than the rest of us moron parents who can actually holster our communication devices for something as mundane as a parent teacher conference.  I saw this repeatedly – parents walking into the classroom for their conference still taking on their phone.  The teacher goes to shake their hand and introduce herself, but the dumb ass parent for some reason, I’m guessing helping land a jetliner that lost all four of its engines or doing brain surgery via their iPhone, won’t hang up.  One parent was even having a conference call with their phone on speaker.  (BTW, your sales numbers in Des Moines sounded awfully low.) She kept on giving the teacher the 1 minute sign with her finger.  I think the teacher was extremely nice not to give that parent the 1 minute sign with her middle finger.  I know I wanted to.

There’s no better time than standing out in a hallway waiting for your turn with the Algebra 2 teacher to strike up a conversation with other mothers you have never seen before.  This all leads to 2 Awkward Confessions.  I found out that one mother’s “dead beat of an alcoholic husband drank away all of their private school money.”  This mom in a Burberry trench coat and handbag was bemoaning to me that her son after “9 years in private school was reduced to a public education and now he’s failing because he’s distracted by the large class size.”

I asked her what grade her son was in and she said he was a freshman.  That lead to my follow-up question which was, “Why is a freshman taking honors Algebra 2?  It’s a sophomore course.”

She explained that because he’s from a “private school background” she felt he would “be at least be 2 years ahead of any public school curriculum.”

Sure, I wanted to strangle her with her $3,000 trench coat, but she wasn’t worth it so instead I said, “Maybe he’s not N.P.S.M.”

“What’s that?” she asked trying to raise her eyebrows without success due to excessive botoxing.

I replied very matter of factly, “It means Not Public School Material.  You know kids who can’t hack it in the real world.  It’s okay, don’t feel bad or anything.  I just hope you’ve got a family business where he can find a job someday.”

Another mom confessed that school is really a “waste of time” because the most important thing a kid needs to learn to succeed is to “not take crap off of anyone.”  I felt I was doing a public service by attempting to disabuse her of the notion.  I gently pointed out that being a successful adult means being able to judge when you should take crap off someone and when you shouldn’t.  On a daily basis any adult will have an occurrence when they’re taking crap. You have to metaphorically weigh that crap and decide “Yeah, I’ll take that” or “That’s a no can do” and begin redistributing said crap.  If you went through life never taking crap you wouldn’t ever get behind the wheel of a car, fly American Airlines, get an education, hold down a job, stay married and most certainly never ever have children. Taking crap is a life skill.   I don’t think I convinced her.  She told me I was “talking crap.”

Beware of 1 Mom Bearing Gifts.  This mom is not just a suck up she’s a show off.  On the first day of school and during Parent Teacher Conference time you can see her up at the school with a red wagon full of treats for the teachers.  In elementary school this is tolerable. When you have middle school and high school aged children and you’re still dragging a Radio Flyer red wagon filled to the brim with your “world famous chocolate chip pumpkin bread” down the hall then you need to roll yourself and that wagon to the closest in-patient mental health facility.

The Wagon Mom is a confused ass pain. Confused because why in the hell would you give high teachers pumpkin bread?  If you really want to suck up try some hard liquor. She’s an ass pain because she parades her Merry Sunshine self up and down the halls stopping every few feet to answer parent’s questions about “What’s in your wagon?”  (I’m I the only one that thinks that sounds dirty?) She’s very eager to answer, in voice that sounds like a Disney Princess after taking too many hits of helium, how she’s got goodie bags for all her kids teachers filed with the “Smith Family Secret Recipe World Famous Pumpkin and Banana Bread.”  Each treat is in a cellophane bag tied with school themed ribbon and pencils that say, “The Smith Family Loves Teachers.” Gag.  One dad at this year’s conference, God bless him, told her,“I can’t believe you still do this.”

She, of course, took it as a compliment and asked the parents standing around “You mean none of you bring treats to the teachers?”

That was my cue to reply, “No, because our kids can stand on their own feet and don’t need pumpkin bread shoes to prop them up.”  Oh my, she took her little red wagon and stomped right down the hall.  Is it wrong to hope she suffers crippling injuries due to a runway red wagon ramming her into oncoming traffic in the near to immediate future?  I sure hope not.