I missed the first PTA meeting. I missed Back to School Night. I missed the ice cream social. And I think it's all been logged into my permanent file.
It's one week in and I feel as if I've already been judged. And not in a your-such-a-great-parent way. No, this is about me not being like all those other well-groomed parents wearing sweater sets and wiping away tears as their kids walk into the classroom without looking back for one last reassuring smile. I'm not like those parents asking how they can help out and when they can start volunteering as the classroom parent. That would not describe me at all.
I would fall on the other side of the bell curve. I'm happy to only have one kid to take care of for five hours, five days a week now that R is in kindergarten. As a result, I'm just not able to jump enthusiastically into a new role as a school-helper-volunteer filled with responsibilities and expectations when what I really need--at least for a couple of weeks--is a respite. I need just a little bit of time to breathe after being the primary caretaker of two kids for five years.
I'm sure I'm approaching this whole education thing from the wrong point of view. And the wrong point of view--just to be clear--would be my point of view. My point of view that sees elementary school as a government-funded childcare center. One that provides a well-rounded curriculum without depleting my bank account. So I'm happy to have a break five days a week. I'm happy to not be paying several hundred dollars a month for preschool.
Yes, the more appropriate point of view would be the teacher's point of view and the school system's point of view. R doesn't really care that I'm not volunteering in his class or helping out with "arts in action." But from the school's point of view, where they are experiencing a budget shortfall and are at risk for losing art and music and physical education programs, they cannot wait for me to take a breather. They need me to offer up my energy and my time and my enthusiasm.
But it isn't going to happen today. In the meantime, I'll avoid one-on-one chats with R's teacher. I'll avoid the parents chattering over who's volunteering for what committee. Perhaps I'll look into filling other needs, like the request on the wall for antibacterial soap for the classroom. That I can handle.