Dear Snarky – My Parent Teacher Conference Got Hijacked

Dear Snarky,

I’m so mad at myself. Yesterday there were parent teacher conferences at my daughter’s elementary school and while I’m in the middle of a conference with my child’s third grade teacher this other mom barges in and apologizes for being late and missing her conference time.(Back story – This woman is always late. It’s her thing.) She then asks if she can have some of my conference time and says “because your daughter doesn’t’ matter.”

I look at her and say “excuse me?”

And then she backtracks and says, “Well I meant that you have one of those perfect girls and my son has some real issues that I need to talk about.”

 Then the teacher looks at me and asks, “Do you mind? I really need to talk to this parent.”

Because I’m an idiot, I agree and just leave. I’m now so angry I want to know if I have any recourse because I don’t think I should have been peer pressured out of my conference time.

 Signed, Furious

Dear Furious,

 First, stop beating yourself up. It sounds like you were bamboozled. Another mom interrupts your conference, tells you your child doesn’t matter and then before you can say WTH? the teacher pretty much herds you out of the room. Trust me, it’s not your fault.

 In fact, I checked in with some of my educator friends and they all said the blame for the situation should be placed 100 percent on the teacher. She should have asked the mom who interrupted the conference to leave the room and wait outside in the hall until your conference was over. In no way, should the late, ill-mannered mother had been accommodated at the expense of your child.

 A former school administrator told me that you should write an email to the teacher and co-copy the principal. In the email state, exactly what happened and how you feel your child was shortchanged. Do not mention your hurt feelings, instead focus on how the teacher comprised your daughter’s conference time.

 As for that rude mother. Sure, you might want to say something, but it would be a wasted effort. It’s not like she’s going to change. Instead just get some pleasure out of giving her the side eye every now and then.

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

 

Speed Dating and The Parent Teacher Conference

Picture 2

This afternoon I promise I’m going to be better. I’m not going to eavesdrop. My ears will not strain to hear every word that is being said. My cochlea will not quiver in auditory anticipation. Today, I will give it my all, to behave during parent teacher conferences in the high school gym.

That’s right the gym, because in my school district once your child enters the ninth grade you begin a four-year journey of speed dating their teachers. No more loving, one-on-one, tête-à-têtes in the classroom. It’s you, the teachers and hundreds of parents looking for their grade book soul mate in the gym. (Yes, you can still make an appointment for a discreet, 15-minute conference in a dimly light, secluded classroom but that’s only for parents seeking a long-term relationship with the teacher.)

Trust me, this whole parent teacher conference speed dating thing is not very romantic what with the lingering smell of teenage feet, unflattering fluorescent lights, and the off gassing of janitorial mop water. All the teachers are lined up alphabetically in the gym and are given a small desk, two chairs and a sign with their name on it. You only get five minutes with each teacher and zero privacy.

Plus, the whole waiting your turn really is a mood killer. Depending on the teacher and the class they teach (usually math or any AP class especially AP European history due to what my son says “is the first time you realize more than a rote memorization of facts is required to succeed in a history class”) you can have parents lined up more than 20 deep waiting for their five minutes.

And yeah, as you wait and slowly scoot up in the line you’re close enough to the teacher and the other parent currently in the speed dating chair that you can pretty much hear everything that is being said. Sure, you make a valiant attempt not to listen. You look at your phone and pretend to be engrossed in your email or Candy Crush but try as you might you can’t stop yourself.

Okay, maybe it’s just me. Maybe I can’t stop myself but I’m certain I always see other parents with their heads tilted and their ears angled in the optimum position for eavesdropping.

Shame on me, I know. But seriously some of this stuff is riveting and all of it is testimony to the fact that teachers are doing the Lord’s work and I don’t care if they get a couple of months off a year we’re not paying them enough.

Back in October, during the last parent teacher conference, there was an angry mom whom I thought was going to go to blows with a teacher because their kid had a 92 in the class. A 92! The parent thought their kid should have a “higher A.” An “A+ A.”

The teacher held her ground and explained very slowly and using single syllable words that an A was an A and that the parent needed to calm down and all was well  because the district didn’t have A+ designations on their report cards. The parent finally stomped off. I wanted to applaud the teacher or blow her kisses or something. Instead I pretended like I hadn’t heard a thing.

My favorite is when a parents sits down and moans and groans about how hard their kid studies and then the teacher does a few click on their computer and voila no homework has been turned in for two weeks straight. You would think the parent would assure the teacher that they are immediately heading home to threaten their child with all sorts of punishments.

But NO the parents argue with the teacher and tells them they’re wrong. WTH? How can you have made it all the way to high school with your kid and not have figured out you do not raise your voice to a teacher (especially in a crowded gym) or argue against the empirical evidence in the all mighty grade book.

To avoid nasty surprises like this I always ask my son if there is anything I need to know before I go to “date” his teachers. My high schooler also sets my teacher speed dating agenda. I’m told to go to the teachers that “like him the least” and then work my way up to the teachers “that love him.” I’m also instructed to text him ASAP with any good or bad news. I never text him. I can’t. I’m too busy listening to what’s going down in that gym.

 

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.