Whoa. I just went to my first PTA meeting last night.
Just when I thought my wild and crazy twenties couldn't be further packed into the deep freeze of my memory...
I attended a PTA meeting.
Getting married... no prob...
Becoming homeowners... loved it!
Entering parenthood... amazing
The condo in suburbia to fit said baby and parenthood... well...
Driving a [gulp] minivan... that was a tough one,
but attending my first PTA meeting... I think I'm still in shock.
Before all you PTA members start hatin' on me... it's not negative. It's just... when did I grow up?
C'mon, you remember those three letters as a kid, right? (Short for Parent Teacher Association)
Suddenly, last night, I'm in a hot assembly room in a 2 hour meeting approving budgets for jog-a-thons and campouts, field trips, et cetera.
By the way, what a WAKE UP CALL as to how totally screwed we are.
I'm gonna go on a brief run here, so bear with me.
Think of the old phrase about how do you boil a frog? Answer: slowly.
That is officially our school system. Why is this hitting me tonight? Relevance. There is simply too much information in the modern world to stay on top of outside of what is personally relevant.
Now, the fact that Ali will have three days a year of music appreciation - not even education - is relevant.
The fact that her school, which is touted as a good school, can only staff a nurse for 580+ kids 1 day out of every week - is relevant.
The fact that her school week is only 4.5 days every week - is relevant.
The fact that teachers and administrators are forced to stay home with no pay which equals no education - is relevant.
Yeah, yeah, welcome to the club, Tim, where have you been?
Well, my eye has been a little distracted by this little thing called EB.
What a monumentally far cry from "when I was her age..." LOL.
That's all the stuff I learned about just last night. (except for furlough days... knew about those, and heard about music, but I guess I was just in denial that in Orange County, CA (not exactly the poorest place on earth), we dumped the arts in the trash for our kids.)
I will say this, I think Ali's principal is amazing. The grace in which she had to deliver so much of the news last night, and the way in which she handled all the parents' complaints and concerns was amazing, and I made sure I told her so right after. Man, she has a tough job. I have a whole new respect for how handcuffed our educators are by our government. She is told how many staff she gets and that's that. She simply has to make it work. Just like the teachers are told how many students they're getting, and how (little) resources they are receiving, and that's that. They just have to make it work.
I feel like Rip Van Winkle.
Like I've been asleep while all of this has gone to pits. Now I've awoken to this unfathomably big mess... and I know it's this bad and/or worse in too many other cities and states to even count.
Where my anxiety is coming from is that I like to be part of the solution, so last night I tentatively signed up for a couple of chair positions (dad's club and talent show- nothing major, just a way to support and get my feet wet). What is predictable is that I will want to "SAVE THE SCHOOL SYSTEM" just like I want to SAVE EB KIDS. I already run my music therapy company, PUCK, the Regional Conference for my professional association, and co-run a pretty awesome little family. I know I'm going to have the time of my life participating in Ali's education, but last night served as a wake up call for just how good I had it growing up.
Alright, alright, please don't beat me up for any of the above, I just needed to get it out. When I went up to the principal, I told her to use me up; I work from home 5 minutes away. She warned me that she probably will, and that's cool because ultimately, this is exactly the way we set up our marriage and family. There is nowhere I need to be that is more important than "around." I never want to hear later in life, "Dad where were you? You were never around when I was growing up." Not gonna happen. Just the fact that I got to run music class one day this summer at Ali's preschool was AWESOME. I can't wait to do that throughout her education.
The other thing I noticed last night was the 80/20 rule in action. This rule states that 80% of the work is usually done by 20% of the community. Well, we have over 500 kids in our school and how many parents showed up for the first PTA meeting of the year? Maybe 50. Of those 50, I could tell who were the 20% of THAT group who do all the work. That's how the principle works; it keeps subdividing by nature. I could pick out by the end of the meeting who were the 10 women who have been shouldering the balance of the burden year in and year out. They raise roughly 40-50k a year to contribute to the school, and these are some Super-Moms (and one or two dads) that get it done. Work full time, parent, then run a non-profit that hosts maybe 30-odd fundraisers over the year. Crazy.
I'm crazy, too. LOL.
Kudos to all of you reading this that are members of your PTA.
You, too, are part of the solution.
Cheers to making the best out of a mess of a situation!