Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Holy shit...I joined the PTA

My child is upstairs reading "Green Eggs and Ham" for about the billionth time. And I, the dutiful mother, am lounging on the red chaise with a glass of red wine. No, I don't really deserve to be propped up down here while my husband is subjected to a new, interpretive version of Dr. Seuss, but it's been a rough day and I needed a little break, so here I am.

Hearing my son read is the most amazing sound I've ever heard. Especially considering that about two years ago, I wasn't really sure when we'd conquer reading -- I certainly didn't anticipate it happening before Kindergarten! But he's quite skilled, has a natural love for books (yea!) and really loves to understand what is going on on each page. When they say that sharing a book with a child is a gift, they really weren't kidding. Of course, I probably don't need to sit down with my stacks of Galliano and Valentino 90-pounders and teach him how to properly pronounce fashion terminology in various languages, but, hey, I had to share those things with someone over the past few years (now I torture my husband with them...he's very knowledgeable now, a real Tim Gunn).

Writing, reading, spelling...we seem to be on top of it all (thanks again, husband) so why on earth am I so completely over the top anxious/scared/freaked the hell out about Kindergarten? They say this is normal but I'm not sure welling up at the onset of parent orientation (two weeks prior to the actual start date) would be considered "normal" by any self-respecting therapist. Yes, I did. Lip-biting, chin quivering...as if I was the one being left in this harmless, clinical, innocuous building which suddenly posed an enormous threat to my safety and, obviously, my sanity.

I was overcome with visions of a 7 year-old with a handgun; metal detectors; SWAT teams...you name it, I visualized it. Of course they assured us of the absolute safety of the building and the vigilant watch of all teachers, administrators and volunteers but when you have my imagination, every dark scenario becomes screechingly possible. It's horrifying. I considered a shack on top of a mountain some place where we could just grow our own food and I could teach him with pencils I widdled out of tree branches but that may be a little too "Nell."

Ok, ok. So I wasn't a complete lunatic the whole time. There were moments of clarity...excitement even. For instance, the prospect of signing him up for French (my choice) or Chinese (husband's choice) this year really perked me up. And perhaps dance? After all, my son is a wee bit Martha Graham/Twila Tharp-y...or is he more Isadora Duncan? Maybe Mark Morris? (Had to plug in a non-Baryshnikov male here just for the sake of keeping it 'manly' as my husband, who is not a Baryshnikov fan, will most certainly point out...please G-d let him be more like Baryshnikov and certainly not have Morris' hair...ok,ok I digress)? Anyway, it depends on the day of the week, but the kid can interpretive dance his way into a full-blown choreographed number in a manner of minutes (must have been all those years of term papers I wrote for dance class, the image of Isadora's scarf burned permanently on my brain, leaving it's mark on the cerebral DNA I passed to my offspring).

They went on to covering bus routes, rules, problems (yes, your child may wind up at home and you are in the carpool line...or yes, your child might fall asleep on the bus and we won't know it until the end of the day) but I tuned all that out because yeah, hell no (I'm sorry, no offense, but I am just not ready for that leap not to mention, well, we could quite actually walk to school).

So then we got around to the PTA part. Laugh if you will but I, yes I, joined the PTA. And so did my husband. This is where I say "it's not like other PTA's, it's really different" and you all nod your heads and say "uh-huh" like people do when you are a mental patient but really, it is different and I'm honestly kind of looking forward to it. They are very into bringing cultural programs to the school which I can totally get behind, don't require your child to sell gift wrap (that was the hook for me) and 80% of the board members are working moms/dads. It really was the SAHM mentality that jaded me to begin with; I feel guilty enough about the hours spent working vs. the hours I have spent parenting and do not need Miss $60K-SUV-Tennis-Skirt to make me feel worse, thank you very much. I also love that dads are involved. There is nothing I love more than finding new activities that the 3 of us can, essentially, do together. Even if it means helping to host the Russian Ballet for a day. I'll just put Jude in a costume and I'm sure he'll be out there leading the Russian Ballet in a manner of minutes, much to the dismay of other PTA moms and dads...ok, wait. Maybe not. Maybe we'll host a bake sale? A cake walk? Do they even have those anymore? I used to get stuck with fruitcake or, worse, saran-wrapped chocolate ice-box cake. Ugh. I can taste it now. Reminds me of Christmas Dinner carry-out from the Piggly Wiggly at Grandma's house when I was about six. Ack. At any rate, I'm sure there's something fun and fabulous the 3 of us can do together and any time that happens, it is a good day in the world.

Let's face it, there are a lot of things you "swore you'd never do" once you become a parent. Well, get your Memorex out because all that will come back to haunt you. I swore I'd never have a blue and yellow nursery: blue and yellow nursery, check. I swore I'd never have one item of clothing monogrammed: monogrammed knit hat, check, monogrammed school bag, check check. I swore I'd never buy him Patsy Aiken: Patsy Aiken out the wazoo, check. And I also swore I'd never join the PTA. *Cardholder*

If you don't have kids yet, get ready for it. And try not to make a promise to hold your breath when you make all those vows on things you "will never do" because I promise, in the end, you'll be as blue as the paint on my son's four walls the day he came home from the hospital. Best to go ahead and embrace the dysfunction now. See you at the PTA!

xoxo, kvlm