Last week I went to my sixth and final preschool “Meet the Teachers” evening. All the preschool bases were covered—emergent curriculum, the not-so-subtle helicopter parent warnings, show and tell of the sweet art that will be sent home (95% of which will end up in the trash under crumpled paper towels when nobody’s looking) and then it happened. The moment I’ve dreaded for six years running. The Class Parent Solicitation.
Since I’ve done this a few times, I could basically lip-synch the speech. “It’s not that much time. Just a few emails. The more parents who sign up, the less work it is.” And then, in slow motion the public humiliation began. The sign up sheet was passed from one parent to the next until it made it’s way around the room. As it came closer, I felt the room heat up a few degrees, the sweat dripped off my temples and the excuses bubbled up to the surface.
On the menu this year: “I can’t, I’m building a business!”
Last year: “Forget it, I’m running the marathon.”
The year before that: “We're moving.”
Before that: “I have an infant.”
Finally: “I’m pregnant.”
While these are all valid excuses, it doesn’t take a genius (or a coach) to figure out—“Hold up, something’s telling me, I DON’T WANT TO DO THIS!” And I feel like I should—but why? If I tell myself it’s for the kids, the truth is—that they have no clue what a class parent does. They don’t see the emails back and forth about teacher gifts and every last school fundraiser.
For me—and I’m guessing a few others out there—it’s about my own guilt and what others might think.
Bypassing my inner conflict, I also handed the sign up sheet, unchanged along to the parent next to me, but that moment stayed with me for the rest of the evening.
At first I calmed myself by saying, maybe next year (lie) but then I thought,
What would my connection to my kids’ education look like if I was NEVER a class parent?
What’s a way to get involved that feels (dare I say) fun and not like a chore?
As a wave of relief ran through me, I was flooded with ideas:
- More class trips (in my favorite city)
- Singing in class with the kids—which I love!
- Career Day (hello 26 seven year old Coaches unleashed on their respective worlds!)
- Dramatic readings of my favorite (age-appropriate) Judy Blume books
Yes. This all feels more like me and less like who I think others think I should be (especially when they’re probably not even thinking that).
And while my list resonates with me, I’m quite grateful for all of you parents out there who look at it and would actually prefer the administrative Class Parent role. I know you’re out there. I’ve talked to some of you and I hope our kids will be in the same class one day.
I know I'll get an Amen when I say--we’re all busy. We’re all doing our best. When you feel that guilt creep in, challenge it. Question it. What do you really want here? You may be able to find your way through it, get what you want and still get the chance to read “Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing” a second or even a third time.
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