When I was little, my mother was a member of the PTA - that's the Parent Teachers Association - for the uninitiated out there. I don't remember one single thing she did in the PTA except for help throw an ice cream social each year, which to us kids, was the premiere event of the year - imagine the Oscars or the Grammys and multiply times ten because ICE CREAM!

(Ice cream
makes everything better when you're eight years old and live in a hot climate.)

We'd wander over to the school basketball courts at the start of the day and they'd hand out those tiny little elementary school cups of ice cream frozen so hard you could use it to break out of a glass jail cell along with wooden spoons. And maybe you might get some chocolate sauce, I don't know. I'm pretty sure they had games and maybe even once a cotton candy machine. As Joe Biden might say, it was a big f-in deal. So much of a big deal, in fact, that my eight year old self was pretty sure that was the only thing the PTA did.

During the very first week of The Dormouse's public school adventures last year, she came home with a form asking all parents to join the PTA. It cost $5. I filled out the form without really thinking about it and wrote a check for the dues - it's just what you do. Besides, any class that got one hundred percent participation for PTA membership would get a pizza party. I couldn't be the one holding her back from that great prize. A couple of weeks later, my PTA membership card came in the mail and The KingofHearts laughed and laughed.

I was slightly perplexed as to why this was so funny.

"You're a card-carrying member of the PTA," he mocked, "it doesn't get more Suburban Housewife than that. This may even be more funny than that time I caught you barefoot and pregnant... IN THE KITCHEN. Bwa ha ha ha!"
Personally, I still don't get it.

But when she entered the first grade, I paid $10 for a PTA membership for him and me both. So now he is a card-carrying member of the PTA too. Take that, Mocky McMockerson.

I go to the meetings when I can - meaning when they don't conflict with my evening orchestra rehearsals, which has not been often this year. Nothing much really happens at them and I find myself
tweeting random thoughts that pop into my head during the meeting just to stay awake. But back in March, The Dormouse was identified by the school for the My Kid Can Beat Up Your Curriculum program. I didn't think much about it in the way of what this meant for me until a couple of days later when she came home with a handful of fliers and I found out that not only are there are three completely different options for how kids in this program are served but that this program also has it's very own PTA. So I went ahead and joined that too.


And then, there was this incident where the coordinator at the school, who was supposed to answer all my questions, said something like, "You should consider this other school" and then neglected to tell me that not only was there a lottery for placement in this school but that the deadline for said lottery program that was less than forty-eight hours from the moment of our conversation. I was told about that by someone in the PTA meeting I happened to attend - two hours after the five o'clock deadline that had happened earlier that day. Since I was kind of pissed about that, I may or may not have let my ticked-offedness get the better of me and raised my hand when they made a plea for volunteers to run for office on this PTA board next year because hey, at least I'll get to know stuff the school district officials won't tell me if I'm on the board.

So now here I am, a member of not one, BUT TWO Parent Teacher Associations for one kid and quite possibly going to be a board member on one of them and The KingofHearts does not let a second go by wherein he misses a chance to tease me about this. I'm starting to see why it's funny in a sad, sad loser sort of way.

So as I was at one of the PTA meetings on a rainy night last week, sitting in a hard chair in the elementary school cafeteria with fans blowing so loudly I could not hear anything any one was saying, I started to wonder, "What am I doing here? How did my life come to THIS?"

And then the President of that PTA stood up to answer questions and someone asked, "What's the status of the school uniforms?"

A little background: last year, the subject of mandatory school uniforms came up at the PTA. As is process in our district, there needed to be a petition signed by a minimum number of people to request a vote of all the families in the school. Then once it was put to a vote, seventy-five percent of the families needed to vote yay for uniforms. (I'm ambivalent about school uniforms as I might have mentioned, but I voted no simply because it's one less thing for me to do.) They didn't get anywhere near the required percentage of yes votes. What I learned later was that they had held a vote the year before which was voted down as well. Then this year, out of nowhere, The Dormouse came home with yet aNOTHer voting-on-school-uniforms ballot. "Good heavens," I wrote under my no vote on the ballot form, "this is the third year in a row we've voted on this issue and it's clear the families don't want uniforms. At this point it just seems like someone on the board has a pet issue."

So when the question was asked at the PTA meeting about the results of the third vote in three years on the subject of making uniforms required at the elementary school, the PTA president said this:

"Well, as many you know the most recent ballot on the question of uniforms did not receive enough
yes votes to pass, so there will be no mandatory uniforms at the school next year." *pause* "We are currently talking to the principal to explore the possibility of voluntary uniforms next year."

Seriously. How freakin' funny is that? That was my entertainment for the week.

In the last year I've become keenly aware of the fact that a parent is the last bastion of responsibility when making sure their kids learn - whatever it is you want them to learn. It doesn't matter if it's church, school, the socialist government, whatever, I've come to understand that even in the best of situations, there are going to be holes in my kids' education and it's up to me to find a way to plug them. And if I'm not willing to step up and plug those holes, no one else is going to do it. Being a part of a PTA (or two) is just one way for me to work on that. So that's why I'm going to cowboy up and do it despite the fact that there aren't very many things I'd rather do less.

After the uniform discussion, the candidates running for positions on next year's board were introduced and asked to say a few words about themselves to the group. They handed the microphone around and each person took a turn saying their name, how many kids they had in the school and how old those kids were. No one elaborated. No one turned it into a campaign speech. Truthfully, they all seemed to feel as stuck and resigned to this situation as I am. Until, that is, they got to the last person, who took the mike -- and I swear on the toffee flavored ice cream I just made that is waiting for me in the refrigerator, I am not making this up -- these were her exact words:

"Hello, I'm [name redacted] and I have a seven year old daughter in first grade and I just want to say that I believe that children are our future. And my feeling is that we should teach them well so that they can lead the way for the next generation."

Admittedly, this woman looked to be about as young as you possibly could be and still have a seven year old kid. I realize there's a distinct possibility that she is young enough that she doesn't even know the Whitney Houston song, but can we all just agree that I showed incredible restraint in NOT putting my mobile phone up on the air, turning it on, and swaying from side to side? I'm going to need accolades for this because IT WASN'T EASY. Also not easy: Refraining from raising my hand and adding, "Yes! We should show them all the beauty the possess inside and maybe also we could give them a sense of pride so it would be easier..."

So I'm also doing it for opportunities to practice self-control.

That and the mockery.