Too cool for (either) school

By Mir
August 24, 2011

I continue to be a fount of all things smoooooth and awesome in my everyday life. As you would expect.

Did I mention that back when I thought I’d 1) have two kids at the same public middle school and 2) would probably be spending a lot of time sucking up to the administration for services for my kid, I agreed to be an officer in our PTA for this year? Oh yes I did. Because no matter how many times I go through the “volunteer… hate everyone… hate myself… remember that I hate people in general… wonder what made me think I had time to volunteer in the first place… pray for the merciful release of death” cycle, just like childbirth, the memory fades and I decide to do it again. Because I am stupid.

Now I’m That Parent who had a hissy fit and took her kid and went home, but is still nominally in charge of Many School Things Despite Being Slightly Bitter. What could possibly go wrong THERE?

And because I am a very, very slow learner, I didn’t just land myself an officer spot, I responded to our (lovely, well-organized, and incredibly cool) president’s fundraiser suggestion with OH GOOD LORD I DON’T WANT TO HAVE TO BUY OR SELL CRAP AGAIN, PLEASE MAKE IT STOP. And then I followed it up with the suggestion that we hold a silent auction, instead. Because that’s more fun and you get to buy stuff people actually want and it’s a fun night and SURE THING, I WOULD LOVE TO TAKE THAT ON FOR US.

(I think I’m well-intentioned, but slightly brain damaged.)

So there was A Thing at the middle school last night, and we sandwiched a quick PTA meeting in there with a bunch of other stuff, and I stood up and waved like a dork when I was supposed to, and tried to stay awake. (Hey, I start my day at 5:30. Between Monkey having a doctor’s appointment and Chickadee coming home from school sick and work and life in general, by the time this thing wrapped at 8:00 I was toast.)

At one point during the milling-around-aimlessly portion of the evening, I found myself face to face with the new principal.

“Hi, I don’t think we’ve officially met,” I said, sticking out my hand. “I’m Mir.”

“And your child is…?”

“Chickadee? Chickadee Lastname. She’s in 8th grade.”

The principal nodded and made a good show of pretending that sounded familiar. “I feel like we’ve met before already.” I said I was pretty sure we hadn’t. “Maybe we were both involved in some emails…?”

“Oh! Yes, that’s it,” I said. “While we were trying to get placement ironed out for my 6th grader, Monkey.” (I waited for recognition to dawn; instead I got a non-committal “Maybe that was it.”) And because I am a brat, I found myself suddenly irritated, so I added, “Yeah, we weren’t able to pull that together. He’s not going to school here.”

We stood there looking at each other. What could the principal say? What was I hoping to hear? I don’t have an answer to either of those questions, and the truth is that—tragicomedy that it was—the series of events that led to our pulling Monkey out of that school is moot, now. He’s where he belongs. Being annoyed at the school isn’t going to do a damn thing, and really, had they been better-organized, he might be struggling there now instead of loving Hippie School.

Eventually (after far too long of an awkward pause) I excused myself to go hunt down another of Chickadee’s teachers, and it wasn’t until I was all the way down the hall that I realized… we’ve been emailing each other about plans for the auction. That’s why my name sounded familiar.

And now I’m both familiar AND That Crazy Lady. Awesome!

* * * * *

Far be it from me to let public school hog all of my mad skillz in interacting with people who are not merely my friends inside of the computer. Oh no! I have PLENTY of suave-osity (like generosity, only douchier) left over for my new pals at Hippie School, don’t worry.

Hippie School is kind of far away. And here you understand that anything that is further than, oh, say, a five minute drive is “far away” to me, because I am a delicate flower who dislikes leaving the house. Hippie School isn’t all the way in Atlanta, or anything, but it’s a healthy drive from here, and because it’s Hippie School and we all want to drive as little as possible because we’re lazy be kind to the environment, a great amount of discussion and planning has gone into arranging carpools.

I pretty much win at carpool already, because right up front I volunteered to drive every single morning if the other parents would bring Monkey home every day. They said yes, and then I told Otto that he’d be driving every morning. (Me = evil genius!)

So it started out with three of us, and I (by which I mean “Otto”) would go pick up Mario and Luigi on the way to school in the morning, and then every afternoon either Mario’s mom or Luigi’s babysitter would bring Monkey home. Easy peasy. Mario lives near us and Luigi lives far away, but Luigi’s mom would drop him at Mario’s each morning.

But then a fourth family who lives closer to Luigi asked to carpool with them, so it went from Otto taking all three boys in the morning and one mom taking all three in the afternoon to Otto taking two boys while another mom takes the other two boys each morning and every single afternoon becoming a special, unique clusterfuck of pairs and trios and whatever else. Some afternoons Mario comes home with us! Some he goes to Luigi’s! Sometimes Luigi goes to Mario’s house! Etc. I mean, it’s all good, but we’re having an organizational problem at the moment. (My instructions to an easily-confused Monkey: “You go with whoever’s picking up Mario. I have no idea who’s coming on which day, so just follow him. Unless it’s a seedy-looking guy in a windowless van, in which case maybe suggest to Mario that he wait for a parent, instead.”)

Given that I appear to be the only person in this scenario who’s not actually driving, I thought I’d make myself useful and create a master calendar we could all access to keep track of things. Because I’m just that cool.

Two wasted hours later, I have a new Google Group, Google Site, and Google Calendar set up specifically for Hippie School carpooling information. Did we need all three of those? No. Can any of the people I invited to view these various duplicate versions of the same information actually ACCESS any of it? No, they cannot. Because I’m Google impaired. But at least I spent all that time and came up with a Usefulness Quotient of… zero.

One of the other moms just shared a Google spreadsheet with me and was all, “Can’t we just use this?” Well, sure, if you want to take the EASY way out….


  1. Nancy R

    we’ve been using the cozi calendar website – for just our family, but a family of five – and so far we really like it. Not that you need it anymore, but you know, it might be helpful as Chickee’s schedule gets busier and such.

  2. Erin

    Thanks for the much-needed laugh, Mir. I’m still giggling over, “Unless it’s a seedy-looking guy in a windowless van…”


  3. Sara

    ZOMG–‘Usefulness Quotient of…zero’ that’s TOTALLY my zone!! Besides, who wants to take the easy way out? There’s a whole lot less to blog about then.

  4. Megan

    Aaand having a no-longer-a-child who drives (or bikes) his own bad self to class every day IS JUST SO SWEET.

    Hey, 3 kids* and still (nominally)(usually)(publicly)(sometimes) sane means I get to gloat a bit!**

    *the other two kids are even MORE self-delivering.Oh yes.

    *’a bit’ can be interpreted to mean that there is a celebratory gloating dance, a special gloating outfit WITH a cape (and boots) and possibly a sparkly wand. I take my gloating seriously.

  5. Diahn Ott

    Aaaaand…all of that just made me do my own little happy dance that we’re still homeschooling, that my commute consists of moving from kitchen to dining room (often in my pajamas) and that PTA meetings only involve my husband, me and a pitcher of margaritas.

    But I’m super-excited that you found Hippie School – it sounds like just the thing for your Monkey, and completely worth all of the non-driving, Google-planning fun you have to do to get him there!! :)

  6. Tenessa

    I avoid volunteering for anything like the PTA because I know I’m gonna hate it. I have plenty of guilt over that fact, but I can’t MAKE myself MAKE my kids sell crappity crap door to door to raise money when I HATED that with a passion as a kid. As a stay at home mom with a work at home husband, there are no co-workers to corner next to the coffee pot to bully into buying stuff they don’t need. I’d rather write a check.

    Until this year. I have volunteered to be the “library mom” for my youngest’s preschool class. THEN, I found out that it’s actually the position of “library mom” for three separate preschool classes after I’d already volunteered, of course. JOY!

  7. Jean

    You never fail to make me smile! Mostly a lurker but love, love, love your blog…..

  8. elz

    Ha! and Ha! All of it, just funny.
    My idea of the perfect PTA/PTO is my friend’s school in Austin. On the “Meet the Teacher” night, they tell you how much they expect to get from fundraisers and you can JUST WRITE THEM A CHECK and opt out. The opt out percentage is something like 99.9999999% They don’t even hold any fundraisers. How freaking awesome is that? I have a standing rule- my kids don’t sell anything except Girl Scout cookies. I will happily write you a check if they don’t have to sell some crappy wrapping paper.

  9. Kendra

    I am backing you up–google groups are not as intuitive to use as they are to set up.

    (Or maybe I’m just as google-impaired as you are…in which case, we’re in good company).

  10. Theresa

    Now I’m scared. I volunteered on paper to be considered for several activities for my kindergartner’s classroom AND the PTA so I can be that Involved Parent. Sounds like I won’t have time to sleep. (No sales, though. Blech.) Love the opt-out fundraiser option!

  11. Karen R.

    Enjoy your PTA work? With Google Cal, enable sharing with your carpool members. If you need help, fire up a flare (or open a chat) and I can walk you through it. The Google Group will be nice for posting any changes/updates to the carpool schedule. However (quibble, quibble, quibble) there is no such thing as a Google Listserv. :-) L-Soft donates a lot to ICORS, so I defend their copyright when I can. Listserv is a trademarked word for L-Soft’s Listserv software.

  12. Katie in MA

    And this is why I lurve you: because I’m pretty sure you’re me, incognito, living another life. Good to know I haven’t changed much. Heh. :)

  13. Lady of Perpetual Chaos

    And I thought I was the only one who hated people in general and would rather hang out at home. Although, I’ve been annoyed by people a lot more lately. I’m blaming the heat. And I’ve decided to opt out of PTA this year. Such a relief.

  14. Beth R

    You know, reminding the new principal that they goofed up with someone’s kid is not a BAD thing, even if the name was familiar for another reason.

    “Learn from your mistakes” and all that :)

  15. Laura

    And with this I do a happy little twirling dance and say *neener neener my kid graduated high school in June I don’t have to worry about this kind of stuff anymore* ;-)

    Actually, sort of not. He has Down Syndrome and so he’s in an 18-21 program in the school district working on job training and whatnot, but he’s not “at school.” So now I will come forward and admit that in the entirety of his school career (and the spec. ed kids start at age 3) I never attended a single PTA meeting. I am just not that woman. Oh hey, I admire the bejezus out of those who are, but it ain’t me my friend.

    So, please know that while I am here admiring the bejezus out of you, I am also doing my twirling *neener* dance. After all, I have to look on the bright side of something, otherwise I will realize that mah preshus snookiewookums has grown up and the sobbing will commence. So, I’m also kind of saying enjoy it while it lasts and I kind of envy you. These are the days of our lives, and now I’m singing Memories…

    It is so strange not to be a part of the school stuff anymore (I volunteered in other ways just not PTA). I think you rock!

    Also, suave-osity is now my new favorite word.

  16. addy

    So bad move on the PTA – of course you can count on me – thingie. I hated those groups. Write a check opt out and be done with it all. And that google gobbledy goob is not easy!

  17. Heather Cook

    LOL Your instructions to Monkey just made me spit out my tea :)

  18. Debbie

    For the auction, there is a website you can go to and get information on companies that will give out things for free for school auctions.

    Some links for you…

    The main message board:

    The auctions message board:

    One thread that is pretty good:

    The best thread to read for a list of companies that will donate:

    I have used that website for an auction our school did (that I co-chaired) a couple of years ago, and also for our boy scout troop’s silent auction. The best thing I’ve gotten from there – a set of four tickets to DisneyWorld valued at $500… for FREE. There is stuff out there to be given – you just have to do the asking. And the most asking I did was via a few letters and some emails, that was it.

  19. Cele

    Ohhhh Mir used the c-f word. I’m kinna surprised Mir doesn’t use it more often… oh wait, she volunteers there is more opportunity. My life can be a total c-f moment, hense I picked up on it so quick. Right now I’m hating word press and my inequity – so you non google moment I totally get.

  20. bethany

    “a special, unique clusterfuck of pairs and trios” hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha . . . . .

  21. EmmaC

    You = evil genius! = me very nearly snorting my (totally acceptable post-work) beer out my nose. I totally love you, man. I mean, Mir.

  22. Jane

    You lost me at “master calendar” because even that phrase sounds way to daunting for me. I did, however, thoroughly enjoy the evil genius part. Sorry Otto.

  23. Miriam

    I so want to be your evil genius apprentice! I am still trying to figure out how to work the carpool for getting my kindergartner and first grader to and from school, along with my preschooler and her different schedule, all without totally screwing up the baby’s nap schedule! arguably, I just have too many kids, but if I was an evil genius like you…

  24. Brigitte

    Just caught up on the last month of your life – woo! Glad that Monkey is in a better school, but starting to worry that a part of you will become addicted to the crazy, and you won’t know what to do with yourself in 15 years or so . . . ;-)

  25. Otto

    Carpool update: Wednesday, I picked up and delivered two boys to Hippie School. Later, we learned it was supposed to be three. Though the only one who knew it was to be three was the third’s parent. Whoops.

    Today, I had two boys in the back of the car and was smart enough to ask the second’s parents if there was supposed to be a third. No one knew, so the third’s parent was called, which apparently revealed that, “OMG I AM A BLOCK AWAY I PROMISE I’LL BE THERE IN A MINUTE THERE’S CONSTRUCTION AND I TRIED A DIFFERENT ROUTE AND GOT LOST.”

    I like the third’s parent, but maybe we need to explain that Hippie School means we can be flexible?

    As for the evil genius’ plan … now that my morning commute has gone from six miles to 23 miles, justifying a new-er-ish car is gonna be easy. Not that I need a new-er-ish car right now, but if when I see something shiny enough …


  26. barbara

    Methinks maybe Otto is the real evil genius in this whole thing….

  27. Tracy B

    Otto likes shiny things, too???? I knew he was a keeper! Off to go check out these Google spreadsheets!

  28. Laurel

    Otto, be careful, or you may end up with a minivan.

  29. Athalia

    Haaaa! I’ve done that create-a-group-calendar-website thing. Fail. It’s much funnier reading about someone else doing it than banging my head against the wall all by myself. Tee hee. I think you said something about PTA? Sorry, I didn’t quite hear you; I had bananas in my ears.

  30. Lori in MN

    The rolling-eyes response I got at my 1st kindergarden PTA meeting to try just asking for money instead of labor-intensive fundraisers (plus “you have an unrealistic expectation of the public school system”) was just what I needed to switch schools mid-year. To a school that raised $23,000 in their first No-Sale Fundraiser. Seven years later I am still thanking my lucky stars that my expectations have been exceeded in every way. Amazing how different schools can be, and SO glad that you found what seems to be the right one for Monkey. Way to go!

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