Dear Snarky – I Tried to Give a New Mom at School the Inside Scoop and it Backfired

Dear Snarky,

A new family has moved into our neighborhood. One of the kid’s is in my daughter’s class. I met her mother and she seemed really nice. The problem is there’s a mom at the school who tricks  other parents into watching her kids.

It goes something like this: The mom suggests you start a carpool. You agree. Then before you know it you’re doing all the driving and the mom starts sending you texts asking if her kids can go home with you and she’ll pick them later and by later it turns out she means like way after dinner.

I saw this mom being really nice to the new mom and I knew what was up. She was going to start using the new mom as her latest free childcare.

I, being a really nice person, decided to warn the new mom about this woman. The new mom then told the other mom about what I said and now they’re both saying means things about me.

I’m really angry because all I did was give the new mom a head’s up, which by the way I wish someone had done for me, and now I’m the horrible mom. It’s really pissing me off.

Is there any way I can turn this around? It’s getting to me. I’m not going to lie the Valentine’s Day party at school was rough.

Signed, Just trying to help out

Dear Just Trying,

File this under no good deed goes unpunished and mind your own business. The problem here is that while trying to do what you thought was a kind thing (and I’m hoping that was your motivation) with your heads up to the new mom you entered into unknown territory.

 And by that, I mean you didn’t know the new mom well enough to judge how she would handle what you told her. Some mothers, for example – me, would be most appreciative of being told a little inside info. Other mothers are going to think that what you shared was mean spirited and perhaps gossipy. And there’s the third unknown that maybe this new mom is a pot stirrer and she’s going make her mark by really living large on what you shared.

 I think we all know which way this turned out. That said, there is really nothing you can do. I would ignore it. Keep your mouth firmly shut. To say anything else is just going to extend the life span of this drama.

I enthusiastically suggest in the future you need to be a little more circumspect about what you share with strangers and yes, this woman was essentially a stranger. What did you really know about her besides the fact that your kids attend the same school?

 Also, you can take some satisfaction from knowing that the new mom will most likely become the de facto childcare are provider for this woman. When this happens fight the urge to say, “I told you so.”

If you have a question for Dear Snarky – advice with an attitude – email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com. 😉

 

Dear Snarky – I’m Being Shunned For Bringing Cupcakes to a School Party

Dear Snarky,

 I’m being shunned at my son’s elementary school due to having the “audacity” to bring mini chocolate cupcakes to the first grade Halloween party. I never received the link to the online sign up sheet for food and didn’t know that sweets were not allowed at the party. I only brought cupcakes because I didn’t want to show up empty handed.

 Now, the anti sugar Nazis are furious and suggesting that I’m a bad mother because I dared to bring a dessert to a Halloween party. Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t Halloween all about the sugar? Now, I’ve been told by the two room moms that I’m not allowed to volunteer or sign up for any party duties for the reminder of the school year.

 I cannot express how angry this makes me. What course of action do you think I should take because this is total bull shit?

 Signed, Cupcake Mom

Dear Cupcake,

You have to pick your battles. Ask yourself are cupcakes the hill you want to die on? If your child is only in the first grade you have a L-O-N-G time to spend with these mothers.

This means you can do two things. One, not volunteer at the rest of the parties but absolutely show up for your son or two take a stand so these moms know not to mess with you for the next 12 years and lord help me but I’m leaning towards this one because these moms need to simmer the hell down and learn to reign in their control issues. Their kid’s elementary school is not their personal fiefdom. #getalife.

Admittedly you should make sure moving forward that you’re up-to-date on your emails, apps, etc related to school events but you shouldn’t have to cower in fear around these mothers or kiss up to them because you dared to walk into the school bearing cupcakes. This means one thing – go over their heads. Yep, talk to the teacher the real boss of the classroom.

Explain what happened, express your desire to help out and ask if there is anything the teacher needs assistance with. Then resist the urge to tell the two room moms where they can shove their “no volunteer” edict and focus on making your child’s first grade year wonderful.

If you have a question for Dear Snarky – advice with an attitude – email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com. 😉

Dear Snarky – The Teacher Returned Our Class Gift

Dear Snarky,

I’m super angry with my child’s teacher. For Valentine’s Day the moms went  all out and collected money for a really nice piece of jewelry from a popular retailer for my daughter’s 3rd grade teacher. The reason we did this is because the teacher is getting married soon and we thought this would be a nice Valentine’s Day and wedding gift from the class.

Well, come to find out from my sister who works at that store the teacher not only returned the necklace we got her but she was a huge, F bombing bitch, about it because she couldn’t get cash back. They would only give her a gift card because she didn’t have a receipt. According to my sister she even insulted the moms who picked out the necklace calling their taste – basic and low-class.

I’ve already told all the moms what happened and now we’re wondering if we should say something to the teacher.

 Signed, Insulted

 Dear Insulted,

 My advice is four words. KEEP. YOUR. MOUTH. SHUT.

Sure, it would be awesome to let the teacher know that you have Intel on what a boorish trog she was but after that thrill what do you have left? I’ll tell you – a kid that’s in her class for another three months. Talk about awkward.

I strongly urge you to not do that to your child. Instead learn a lesson from this. For the rest of your parenting career don’t get a teacher an expensive gift that’s very taste specific like jewelry. If you feel you must get a present go the gift card route. I also suggest the parents in your class skip the teacher appreciation and end of year gifts in favor of handwritten notes from your children highlighting the favorite things they’ve learned that year.

If you have a question for Dear Snarky “Advice With an Attitude” email me at snarkyinthesuburbs.com 😉

August – The Bipolar Month

awesome-comics-derp-and-derpina-funny-Favim.com-799200I have a love hate relationship with the month of August. The hate comes, I think, from being water-logged. By now I have clocked so many hours in a pool or at a waterpark I feel like the Center for Disease Control should have me on a retainer for some sort of long-term chlorine exposure experiment.

 I’m also extremely weary of the swimsuit/bathroom shimmy. Now, if you’re a guy or a woman who has only worn a bikini her whole life (and may I just say right now that I admire either your self-confidence and/or dedication to the burpee) you won’t know what I’m talking about. So, let me try to explain to those of you who have never experienced the hand-to-hand combat of peeling off a wet, Lycra infused one piece.

 Imagine if your body was being hugged to death by a slippery, yet very tenacious and amorous seal. Now, envision trying to remove that seal from your body. You tug, you pull and eventually you hop and up down trying to enlist gravity to be on your team. Finally, you manage to roll your one piece down far enough so you can use the bathroom. That, my friends was the easy part because now you have to do the ultimate heave-ho and get that wet sucker back on.

 It’s a Sisyphean task. No matter how hard you yank your swimsuit up it barely moves. Wet Lycra must have the adhesion quality of duct tape infused with Gorilla Glue. By the time I have my suit at my stomach I usually resort to prayer and request divine intervention for the final journey – up and over the boobs. Last month at the Schlitterbahn water park it was such an arduous task getting my swimsuit off and on that by 2 p.m. I had reached my Fitbit goal for the day. It had to be all the jumping.

 Right about now I’m also sick of being hot. Heat is the enemy. Yes, I know lots of folks love living the 110-degree life. I just don’t happen to be one of them. Primarily because I find hot weather unattractive. There’s the sweating, the bad hair days, the melting make up and all the shaving. Could anything be more yuck?

 Now, let’s take a gander at fall and winter, summer’s much more beautiful sisters. These seasons are all about long sleeves, long pants and cable knit sweaters so bulky they conceal a wide variety of sins like weekly trips to the Krispy Kreme drive thru. And then there’s my favorite thing in the whole wide world – low humidity.

When that first crisp hint of autumn is in the air I become giddy. It’s life affirming and that’s just me talking about my hair. It’s got a bounce, a shine, a sheen that says, “Here you go brave girl. This is just for you for surviving summer.”

 August also brings unwanted attention to my lackluster parenting skills. Every summer I become a slacker mom. Anything that smacks of school from reading logs to summer assignments and “must have this done before school starts” packets I completely ignore nagging my kids about until the calendar says August 1.

Then it’s time for me to go into what I call the hurry and harass mode. Hurry, as in, “What do you mean you haven’t even gotten the book yet? You better get a move on it right now!” After that I follow-up with a level of harassment so fierce that my kids accuse me a being a bully or worse a “summer buzz buster.”

 All this school talk brings me to what I love about August. Yep, you guessed it – school starting! I’m not and never have been one of those moms that does the big boo hoo about her precious flock going back to school. The crocodile tears mothers are the worst.

Primarily because their angst is so disingenuous. I believe that these moms are confused and feel that to maintain their “Mother of the Year” street cred they must act inconsolable about their children being gone seven, wonderful, delicious, hours a day.

 So for you ladies getting ready to assault social media with your tales of abandonment because school has started and giving an Meryl Streep level performance of misery and despair at “Meet the Teacher” night may I suggest you rethink this strategy because no one is buying it. Mainly because if you’re that bereft about being child free why wouldn’t you just home school? 

 A couple of years ago at one of those back-to-school coffees I asked a mom who was clutching a handful of Kleenex that question. Let’s just say it didn’t go well.

 Of course, a downside to school starting, besides the phony mom weeping, is school supply shopping. I’m still in recovery from being at Target during a school sales tax holiday. You would have thought it was T minus 24 hours till the rapture. You know if the rapture was all about going to heaven with Trapper Keepers and college ruled notebooks. The best/worst was when two moms began fighting over the last couple of three-ring binder folders.

 It was intense. I got really scared when one mom reached into her cart and started gesturing with a ruler and not one of those plastic floppy rulers. Oh no, she was going all back in the day, little red schoolhouse with a hardcore wooden one. I was like, “Uh oh, it’s a throw down” and settled in with my Diet Coke for what I was sure was going to dinner theatre – Target style. The one-act drama was interrupted when an employee saved the day by restocking folders.

 But trumping even theatrics at Target and school starting the biggest gift August brings is one of new beginnings. For anyone with children still pursing their educational journey this month is when the New Year starts. Forget about January 1. August is where it’s at.

There’s excitement and hope for what the school year will bring. Resolutions are made. New routines are established and parents everywhere, engulfed in the fumes of new backpacks and number two pencils, are wishing for their children to have their very best year yet.

*Attention 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! 🙂 

 

 

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! 🙂

Dear Snarky – What Should I do About a Mother Who Cheated to Get Her Kid a Citizenship Award?

dear_snarky_logo-1Dear Snarky,

I know it’s summer but I’m still angry about something that happened the last day of school. My son is in elementary school and every year they have an awards ceremony. This year the same girl got almost every award including a citizenship award that you have to be nominated for by a school employee and a student.

Well come to find out the school nurse and the kid that did the nominating BOTH have family members that work for the winning kid’s dad. The mother of the student that wrote the nomination letter even said she was approached by the kid’s mom and was more told than asked to have her child write a nomination letter for this girl. She, of course, made her kid do it because she didn’t want any work repercussions.

I want to write my own letter to the school and point out the hypocrisy of their awards ceremony that they let a mom micromanage so her kid wins everything. My husband says to just let it go. What do you think? Shouldn’t I take a stand?

Signed, Still Angry

Dear Angry,

I’ve got to agree with your husband on this one. Move on sister and enjoy what’s left of your summer. This battle is not worth your time. The hyper controlling, manipulating, so her kid gets everything mom is a dime a dozen these days. You might as well be playing Whac-A-Mole. Once you take down one, another pops up.

In fact, by the time your kid gets into high school any award that is not validated by a third-party and is in no way connected to the school are the only ones anyone pays any attention to. For example, a National Merit Award based on scores for a test taken outside the school and tabulated by strangers in state far, far, away – that’s one you’ll be impressed by.

Yes, it’s sad this is the way things are now, but until parents quit placing their own self-worth and validation on the back of their kids I fear nothing is going to change anytime soon.

*If you have a question for Dear Snarky “21st Century Advice With An Attitude” please email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com or leave me a private message on my Snarky Facebook page.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Idiot’s Guide to Picking Up Your Kids From School

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 I thought 10 Steps to a Successful School Drop Off would have been enough information to help parents safely navigate the treacherous school drop off/pick up waters. Sadly, dear friends I was wrong. So, because you asked here is the safety guide for retrieving your children from school. As always feel free to laminate this in the teacher’s work room and post it outside your school’s parking area.

1) Do not at any time “freelance” from the correct entrance and exit points to your child’s school. Not even if your uber talented angel, who everyone that will still listen to you knows is a freaking sports prodigy, has a private, very expensive, oh so hard to get lesson, from pick one: a batting coach, almost MLS soccer God, former Division 3 NCAA football star, dance legend, as seen on TV Cheer captain etc. and this means you’ve got to pick up your kid right this very minute because that lesson starts soon and the money clock is tick, tick, ticking. This harrowing, almost crisis VIP situation, still does not give you permission to enter in the exit only lane, drive on the grass, hop a curb, park in the school bus area and generally give every other parent that is following the rules the middle finger with your car management behavior.

2) If you’re in the school pick up line and your precious child gets to the car and announces they forgot their homework and will need to go back into the school DO NOT remain in the pick up line. You will hold up the line for God only knows how long because there is n-o-t-h-i-n-g slower than a kid going back into a school to look for something. You have two choices. 1) Tell your child to get in the car and then proceed to a school parking lot. From there you both go into the school for homework rescue. 2) Send your absent-minded sweetie back into the school and inform him/her that you will be waiting for them in the school parking lot.

3) The school pick up lane is not an informal sorority rush function or a Kappa mixer with the Chi O’s. This means Under No Circumstances do you, the parent/driver, leave your car. I know it’s tempting when you’ve got five minutes to kill till the bell rings and there’s Sarah sitting in her Suburban and it’s been maybe a whole two hours since you talked to her at the Pilates studio and wow, a lot has happened since then, like you just found out that Mandi is going to be chair of the Junior League Christmas Affair. Are you F’ing kidding me? Regardless, I implore you to resist the urge to exit your vehicle. Stay seated and distract yourself by doing a Kegal workout (remember to keep those muscles contracted for at least 10 seconds at a time) because we all know what’s going to happen when you get out of your car. Sure, you’ll start by chatting up the Escalady behind you but then because you’re one super popular mom and you’re having an excellent hair day you’ll begin working the pick up lane like it’s a receiving line at a wedding. Before you know it you’re engrossed in some juicy gossip with the mom 15 cars back, so juicy you don’t notice the kids are out of school and meanwhile your empty vehicle has been holding up the pick up lane for 10 minutes.

4) You also do not leave your vehicle to go inside the school to check on one little thing that you know will only take a minute. Less than a minute really because you just need to ask a quick question. It never takes a minute. Elementary and middle schools are the lands that time forget. Once you enter a single minute magically stretches into 20 and there you are inside blissful unaware that your empty car is creating a parking lane log jam.

5) If you are volunteering at the school do not make the mistake of parking your car at the beginning of the pick up lane. Yes, I know you arrived at school at 1 p.m. so you could cut out fall leaves for the cafeteria bulletin boards and of course no one was in the pick up lane at 1 and quite frankly you think you should get the first space in line because hello, you’re volunteering. Shouldn’t there be some upside? But here’s the problem, by the time the bell rings you are still not at your car because you got distracted either admiring your handiwork with scissors (Seriously, fall leaves have never been cut with more precision and attention to detail) or by chatting with various members of the school staff so there sits your driverless car, all alone, creating gridlock more impressive than those leaves you cut.

6) Restrain yourself with the best of your ability to not flee from you car the moment you see your children’s happy faces walk out of the school building. I know it’s hard to wait even one second longer to give those bundles of awesomeness great big hugs and sprinkle kisses up and down their faces as those other, less loving, and dare I say lazy moms, just sit in their SUV’s and wait for their kids to actually open their own car door. I mean OMG, you’ve been separated from your love bugs for seven agonizing hours. What kind of mother doesn’t get out of her car? Who cares about holding up the line? Just take a couple of deep breaths. You’ll have them all to yourselves very soon and then you can do a great big family hug and ignore them as soon as you get home to watch a Real Housewives of Beverly Hills marathon.

7) If you are sending Nana, the nanny or a neighbor to collect your kids from school I not only beg you to make sure they know how the school pick up lane works but I suggest a trial run with you in the car for guidance. One timid grandma, texting nanny, or clueless neighbor can clog up the whole pick up procedure. I once saw some kid’s Papaw reduced to tears and he was a Vietnam Vet. This kid retrieval process is not for the faint of heart. Forget the Vietcong, there’s not much meaner than a mom who has to go to the bathroom (like you wouldn’t believe how bad because right before she came to get her kids she made a quick grocery store run and there was no way she was going to use the restrooms at Walmart), has three kids to get to soccer practice in less than 30 minutes and is about to run out of gas stuck behind a great grandpa in a 1979 Buick LaSabre who doesn’t know he’s supposed to move up in the line not stay parked.

If you already abide by these rules I salute not only your common sense but your higher level cognitive intelligence. Go forth now my smart friends and lead by example.

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.

Dear Snarky – WTH on School Fundraisers?

dear_snarky_logoDear Snarky,

I am new to the whole elementary school thing. I have twin girls in the first grade and I’m stunned by all the fundraisers. Since August I have bought gift wrap, candy, magazine subscriptions, spirit wear and dropped a bundle at the book fair. Now, parents are being asked or you could say bullied into attending an “adults only” fundraiser for the school AND donating something to the silent auction. It’s being held at a Country Club and tickets are $75 a person! I want to skip it because I feel I’ve given my fair share to the school. What would you do?

Signed Margaret 

Dear Margaret,

Do not walk, but run as fast as you can to buy a ticket to the Adults Only School Fundraiser. Trust me on this it will be the best $75 you’ve ever spent in your life. These parent parties fueled by an open bar will provide you with delicious entertainment.  Behold the slightly to totally intoxicated fathers getting into a bidding war on a live auction item that results in a throw down. See the PTA president get tanked and dance most inappropriately with someone who IS NOT her husband, but the female PTA Vice President. Rejoice when the snooty home room mom who always forgets your name makes a pass at the principal.

Good times can not even begin to describe it. Even better if your school parents only fundraiser has a 1980’s theme, which my research has shown is the number   one choice for these parent parties. Get ready to howl with laughter as the majority of the moms at your children’s school get their 80’s version of Madonna on. I’m not kidding when I tell you at least one mom is going to walk into that party in a cone bra. Now, don’t tell me that’s not worth $75.

*If you have a question for Dear Snarky – 21st Century Advice With an Attitude please email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com or PM on my Snarky Facebook page.