Friday, September 7, 2012

PTO = Pain in The Ovaries

Yesterday I had my first encounter with the PTO. So many schools in so many years, and no, I've never been a member. I've always signed up, promised to be an integral part of my kids' school year, promised to be involved in fundraisers, and then never went to a meeting or was never contacted to help with anything.

Having finally attended a PTO meeting... it reminded me why I never attended a PTO meeting.

Pain in The Ovaries, that's what the PTO is...
I had this stereotype built up in my mind of what a PTO was and how it was run. Before yesterday, the PTO, to me, was a place where The Know it All Mom, The Over-Achieving Mom, The Slacker Mom, The Always Happy Mom, The Always Pissed Mom, The Mom With 5 Kids Under Age 7, The Popular Mom, The Wannabe Popular Mom and The Outcast Mom can all come together and act like they are cooperating for the greater good of raising money for their kids' school, when in reality they are doing whatever the PTO officers have decided they are doing for the year.

After yesterday's meeting... that idea has pretty much been cemented in my mind.

What? Did you expect me to say that it was a magical moment where the stereotype I had developed was all wrong and the PTO meeting was empowering, motivating and left me with the feeling that my voice, as the newest member, was going to be heard equally with those who have been members for years, and that I was going to be an integral part of creating and executing new ideas to make the school a better place?

Please. Head to a fluffy bunny mom blog for that crap. I tell y'all how it is, and for me, the PTO meeting wasn't a magical place. In fact, it makes me want to now dub the PTO as a Pain in The Ovaries.

For starters, it was immediately after school, and every mom there had their kid with them... or their 2 kids (like me), or 3 kids, or for one poor soul, her 5 kids, all aged about 7 or younger. We were all located in this tiny little classroom because the cafeteria was hosting the after school program, and the library, after school art classes. Did they have anyone assigned to watch the younger kids so that we moms could actually pay attention to the meeting without the interruption of 'Mom, I gotta pee' or little Billy smacking little Suzy upside the head? Nope. Every mom for herself. It was chaos wrapped in a ball of bullshit coated in a glaze of holy crap.

As the meeting started, and they introduced the PTO officers, that's when I was able to start pointing out the different stereotypical moms there. The Know It All Mom was seated 2 seats away from me, and apparently she was new, too. But, because she had served on the PTO at her kid's last school, and was on
the such-and-such wives committee for her husband's squadron (my kids go to an on-base school), she had all of the answers to all of the fundraising questions this PTO could possibly have... and she spared no ear raping to let us all know every one of them.

And here it was, I thought The Know It All Mom was going to be the PTO President... one stereotype proven wrong for me yesterday.

Different Mom Types, courtesy of
The Always Happy Mom was seated directly next to me, and as luck would have it, was a PTO officer. She sat there and smiled the entire time... with her size 5 ass, her naturally blonde hair, beautiful blue eyes, perfect cheekbones, and 2 little bleach blonde clones as daughters. Something told me she couldn't carry a conversation outside of Jersey Shore or the latest fashion style for her 2 year old, but hey, she was a PTO officer- quite an accomplishment.

The Wannabe Popular Mom and The Outcast Mom seemed to be friends, and one of them was coincidentally enough The Mom With 5 Kids Under Age 7 as well. I watched them throughout the meeting, the look of longing in their eyes, the agreement with everything The Popular Moms (there was more than one of them) had to say, the completely ignoring their children to hang on every word spoken at the meeting. This meeting was clearly the highlight of their day... their week, and they didn't want it to end.

The Over-Achieving Mom jumped at the open vice president spot, even though she was already a PTO officer, and proudly exclaimed to the entire audience that she was more than capable of doing both jobs (as she had no intention of letting go of the lesser office position). As no one stood up to run against her, she was unanimously voted as our new vice president. Pretty cool, huh? All I know, is the president better watch out. With The Over-Achieving Mom in 2nd place, she just might be plotting to take over the top spot by digging up some less-than-pleasurable information about how the mom in the presidential spot doesn't have a twitter account to tweet about PTO meetings, or didn't buy a fundraising coupon book the previous year, and therefore is unfit to be PTO president. Even with all that said, she seemed to be the only one who thinks outside the box, and is motivated to get things done, so kudos to her.

We went over the ideas for the fundraisers this year, sign up sheets were presented for the various roles we could play, and the floor was never opened up for ideas on new fundraisers. These same fundraisers had been done for years, we needed to support what has worked, and if you had any other ideas or questions, then of course they'd love to hear them, but they were going to stick to what they know.

The first major planning event coming up is the Fall Festival, at the end of October. This got me very excited, as Halloween is my favorite holiday. They briefly ran over some of the high points of the festival, but didn't go into detail because the Fall Festival coordinator wasn't at the meeting. The more I heard about the cake walk, and face painting and concessions- popcorn, cotton candy, snow cones, apple juice and water (that was it), the more I wondered if there was more. The school my kids came from in Virginia had the most amazing PTO and PTO sponsored events- I had hella good ideas I could share with them to make this Fall Festival amazing. Plus, I'd been known to dress up in a cloak and 'read tarot cards' for people at fall carnivals to help raise money. I couldn't wait to pitch my idea. I had one question I needed answering before I pitched the idea... How much were tickets to the event for each activity or game?

Tickets? They weren't doing tickets this year, except for food. They just wanted to ask for donations from the parents.

What the hell? Every school carnival I've ever been to had tickets. You paid for them as soon as you got there, usually 4 tickets for $1 (or pre-ordered them at a discounted price, like 5 tickets for $1) and each game had a set number of tickets to play, each activity costs tickets as well, and the food made up the rest of the ticketed expenses. How can you make money at this school event/fundraiser if you don't have tickets?

Seeing the confused look on my face, the president stated, 'Well, we don't really view the Fall Festival as a huge money-making event. It's more of a fun thing for the school to put on.'

Didn't we just spend 35 minutes talking about how we needed to step the PTO fundraisers up a notch because school budgets had been cut again and we needed to help the teachers and staff as much as possible? Didn't the officers just say that money was of utmost importance and we needed to do whatever we could to try and get businesses to donate money? Why on earth, after all of that talking about needing money, would we not make the first big event coming up a potential money-maker?

I understand it's about bringing the kids together and letting them have safe fun for Halloween, but good grief. Don't preach to me about needing money, then take away the easiest way to make money in the next few months. Especially when every school carnival I've ever attended (and we've been to several, in a few different states) charged tickets for the various games and activities. Parents expect to purchase tickets to attend these events.

That's when it hit me that the stereotype of doing what the PTO officers want to do, and have always done, with not much influence from new ideas or sources, seemed to be completely true at this school. I went ahead and put my notebook back in my purse, and counted down the minutes until the meeting was done, because I didn't want to be The Rude Mom and walk out of the PTO meeting. Things ended pretty quickly after that, and I headed to the table to sign up for any help they needed for the Fall Festival. Just because they weren't doing things how I thought they should be done, doesn't mean I'm not a team player. I signed up as the Face Painting coordinator, and told the PTO president that if they needed any help after the sign up sheets were done, to contact me. I'd be willing to help however I could. She told me the coordinator should be emailing me soon. I'll hold my breath.

As I walked out, The Always Happy Mom smiled and thanked me for attending the meeting. When I got outside, and safely into my car, I screamed. The kids, paralyzed for a second and staring at me like they wanted to have me committed, hesitantly asked what was wrong.

There's a reason why I've never been a PTO participant. I have a huge problem with authority. I have to lead things or I'm not happy. I can't stand to sit back and have people run things that don't think outside of the box, that only do what has always been done, that never take chances. I have never been the mom in charge, because I don't play their games. It's very hard for me to smile and keep my mouth shut. So now, I had a decision to make. Zip my lips and smile to help out my kids' school, or decide not to be a member. I have to decide to finally play nice with other moms, or continue to distance myself from them.

I've decided to play nice. (A shocker, I know.) This school needs help. Budgets have been cut so much that we parents are buying the copy paper for the office to use. If helping this school means I paint faces at the Fall Festival without taking a ticket first, then sobeit. And I will try (mind you I said try) to play nicely with the other moms.

In true Tatted Mom style, though, I'll leave y'all with this last thought, so eloquently put by the movie 'The Faculty'...

"If you were going to take over the world, would you blow up the White House 'Independence Day' style, or sneak in through the back door?"

Blowing up things isn't my style. Plus, people usually leave their back doors unlocked. So much easier to sneak in and take over that way...

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  1. You are better at biting your tongue than I am LOL Which is why I won't join the PTA,PTO,PTSA whatever they call it in different area's because I will open my mouth and suggest things even if the other Mom's don't like it lol I am like you I think outside the box instead of staying inside the box like most do where it's "safe" :) Good luck on future meetings ;-)

    1. Thanks! I'm hoping to work my way in to opening their minds, but I won't count on it, lol.

  2. I so feel like I was there with you at one if my kids schools! Great post! All 3 of my kids have always gone to 3 different schools. I worked until this week so I was never part of the PT psychos. Now that I'm a sahm I've already given my kids a list of the things I will NOT be doing. # 10 clearly states...I will NOT be friends with your room mom. I already know I don't like her.
    I am very very involved in everything my kids do for school however I don't want to run it!
    Your a very good mom ;)

    1. Thanks, girl. I wouldn't say I'm regretting my decision to be a member of the PTO... yet. Ask me again in another month or two, lol.

  3. I believe you went to this PTO meetingwith the intent to bash these women before you even got there. well, you forgot to mention the "I think I'm better than you Mom in the audience" (guess who that would be)? you mentioned that the school had never asked for your help or for volunteer work. Funny thing is My children have been at that school for 5 years and there are always Flyers coming home. Maybe you should spend some more time looking in your childs homework folder and involving yourself with your childs progress at school before you make those statements.

    1. Hi, Stacey. This post was written last year, for the 2012/2013 school session, and when I went to the PTO meeting, I had every intention to be involved in the PTO. However, last year's PTO board of officers, with the exception of one person (who happens to be the PTO president this year) weren't the best at thinking outside the box, and only seemed to be comfortable having the same people do the same things in the same way.

      I never stated the school never asked for my help or volunteer work, so I'm not sure where you got that from. I send candy to school, and box tops and buy entertainment books and cards- whatever the PTO needs when they ask for help from parents. My beef with this PTO meeting last year, and the PTO members from last year, lied in the fact that they never opened the floor for suggestions on new ideas to raise money. They seemed content to do things as they had always been done, and were very closed off to new ideas.

      I'm glad that you did comment, though, so I can add an update here. A couple of friends of mine asked me to attend a meeting this year, and because of last year's shenanigans, I almost declined. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this year, the PTO ladies are open-minded, laid back and are getting things done. It was nice to sit and talk with them. The Over-Achieving Mom, as I stated last year (and, who, by the way, has called herself over-achieving), is rightfully in the place of President, and because of that, stuff is moving in the forward direction instead of backward.

      Thanks for your comment.