Saturday, November 17, 2007

PTA Woes: If you pull it they will come

There is so much to say after three or so months of being part of Seven's PTA (I posted that I might possibly be the first out lesbian VP of the PTA at a Catholic grade school earlier) that it's hard to know where to start. I've learned that I am definitely not a run-of-the mill SAHM (in part because I'm not, actually, a SAHM and in part because I don't entirely fit in with the other SAHMs). And I've learned a lot about my personal work habits and how they fit (or don't fit) with others. Essentially, I don't play well with the other kids.

Recently, I've been working on setting up a SCRIP program for the school (as an aside, check out this great video that some parents put together for the preview night) with a really motivated woman who has literally changed the school overnight with all of her ideas and efforts. I'll call her Super-Vol hereafter for Super-Volunteer.

She is why I am both motivated and active and, at the same time, going insane.

I've learned that, having been in and out of academia now for about 15 years, that it's hard for me to work with other people in completing projects. I guess I'm too much of a control freak not to have my hands on a project from the beginning to the end. This isn't bad in-and-of-itself. Add this to the fact that I'm too busy to control a project from beginning to end, and you've got one Vesuvius on the brink.

So this all culminated in an extremely stressful volunteer experience last Friday.

Maybe I should start the story from the end of my day.

I picked up Seven from school and we were driving home. I always think of that Sesame Street vignette about how a kid found his way home, at that point in my day. . . Walgreens. . . Starbucks. . . Kowalski's. . . Caribou. . . The wine shop on the left. . . The library. . . Maddie's house. . . A couple of lights. . . Sophia's house. . . And we're home-again-home-again, jiggety-jig!

Anyway, at one point during the drive Seven's eyes met mine in the rearview and she says: Guess what happened today?

Me: What?

Seven: We had a fire drill!

Me (hesitating): Oh yeah?

Seven: Yeah!And guess what?

Me: What?

Seven: Some two-year-old set off the alarm!

She says this without prescience in her voice. No irony. No, well, no "light-bulb" moment like the one you, dear reader, must have just had.

Now flash back six hours.

I had volunteered to be the first distributer of the first Scrip order. That entailed waking Big up, getting the reluctant toddler dressed (and you know what that means!), and out the door by 7:45 to get Seven to school on time and meet people as they are dropping off their kid, to hand them scrip.

I was supposed to meet the Super-Vol there for the handoff. She had offered to organize the cards and I'd distribute them.

She was about 20 minutes late which, for any normal person (i.e. person without active toddler) this is no big deal. Hell, I would've been twenty minutes late too (see the Starbucks reference above). But for those of you who have had a toddler, you know that twenty minutes is about all you've got.

So, here I am, my twenty minutes spent, with the package of Scrip orders. I open them up and realize that they aren't organized in any coherent way. At least not for the amount of time I had left for distribution (i.e. zero minutes). I needed to organize the envelopes by those who would be picking them up and those that wanted them sent home with their kids, first. Then secondly, attach the order form to the envelope, and then find out where said kids were so that I could get the envelopes into the backpacks (i.e. what grade and what room).

Not a problem for anyone currently without a toddler. Especially a toddler who has used up all of his patience and was ready to move on to the next event.

And of course, I am also woefully unprepared. No cars, trucks or other gadgets to occupy him for the mere fifteen minutes I need to do this job.

I improvise with a red pen and a scribble sheet and got to organizing.

I'll give you one guess as to how long that lasted.

I think: It's okay. He can run up and down the hallway a bit. He can't hurt anything. These walls are indestructible. And so what if he tears down a kindergartener's art project? They get sent home with them about every day, don't they? I'm doing those parents a FAVOR!

Famous last thoughts.

I'm finishing up when I hear the scream of the fire alarm in both ears.

I think: No. Please no.

I become religious all of a sudden: GOD NO! Puhlease no!

I look over, and see Big down the hall, coming out of a little entry way, obviously frightened by the sound.

I move to the side so I can see around him and see: the fire alarm. And it has been, obviously, tugged down.

By him.


My immediate response was to go and put it back.

Once it's pulled though, it's pulled. I'm like Curious George, both feet on the wall, hands on the lever, trying to push it back into place as hordes of Kindergarteners march past me on the way out the nearest exit.

My shirt is wet with sweat.

I grab big and we step outside.

Big (softly): Ring! Ring!

Me (thinking): is there any way I can NOT admit to this?

We get outside and Big is rewarded by his favorite thing ever: a firetruck with all of its bells and whistles wailing.

I guess he'll bring the trucks if I forget them.


Gus&Otto said...

This is hilarious. Unless I missed it, how did seven know it was some two year old?

giddings said...

Get this... Seven was gossping about it with a friend of hers!?! The friend said "Yeah. . . I guess it was some two year old!"

Anonymous said...

Did you ever tell Seven what two year old actually pulled the alarm?

giddings said...

Oh yeah, Bev! I told her right away -- 'do you have any idea WHICH two year old pulled the fire alarm?'

She now teases me constantly: "ring! ring!"

Anonymous said...

My life flashed before my eyes when I read this. I can just imagine the terror you must of felt in the moment of -- PLEASE. DON'T. LET. THAT. BE. MY. CHILD.

giddings said...

Hey Missy - nice to meet you and your blog! Yeah -- lots of the school moms talk about that morning and laugh and I laugh now with them, sort of. . . One particular mom has an infant right now and recalls saying to me that morning "Oh, I dread that age!" and she says that my response was "No! He's MUCH easier now! I don't have to worry about him on the stairs anymore!" She laughs to this day (Christmas eve) about it.