Thursday, May 15, 2014

Meeting of the minds

With the school year winding down, the twins are off to Wingnut Elementary's end-of-year school music camp, to spend 4 days in the cool pines of northstate. There they'll practice their instruments, terrify wildlife, irritate hunters, and likely violate the endangered species act.

So Tuesday afternoon was the parents' meeting with the teacher leading the expedition. It was allegedly mandatory (though they didn't take attendance). Mrs. Grumpy had happy hour a meeting at her job, so I went.

I got there early, and, out of habit (amazing how we default in a classroom), took my traditional college/medical school seat (3rd row from the front, 2nd seat in). Other parents came in. A cardiologist I know, whose daughter is in the same class, came in and sat next to me.

As Mr. Allegro was trying to get the SmartBoard to work (this involves tapping it, swearing, hitting it harder, swearing, tapping it lightly, swearing, wash, rinse, repeat) Mrs. Mysomom came in. She carefully looked over several seats before selecting one that met her standards, and started to set her purse down. Then she stopped, whipped out latex gloves, put them on, pulled out a pack of bleach wipes and began scrubbing down the desk and chair (which weren't visibly filthy) before tossing the gloves and wipes in the trash and Purelling her hands.

After a few minutes the presentation began. Mr. Allegro showed us a brief video about the camp (which looked like a lot of fun, BTW), went over some rules and other points, and finally opened up the floor for questions. Boy, that was a stupid idea.

Mom 1: "It says here that no electronics are allowed. What about phones?"

Mr. Allegro: "No phones. They distract the kids from the lessons. We also don't want the boys and girls texting each other after lights out."

Mom 1: "But then how am I supposed to know where you guys are, and that you arrived safely?"

Mr. Allegro: "Either Mrs. Hendrickson or I will send a group text to all of you when we get there."

Mom 1: "Yeah, but what if something happens to both of you, like you're killed in a bus crash on the way, and the kids need help?"

Mr. Allegro: "Well, the driver also has a phone, and the bus has GPS and a radio connection to its company."

Mom 1: "It's very important that I be aware of where Sherman is at all times, 24/7. I'm his mother, you know."

Mr. Allegro: "He'll be with us, and you'll be notified if there are any problems."

Mom 2: "Wait a minute. You're not driving the bus?"

Mr. Allegro: "No, the bus is chartered from Pinto Transportation, who supply the driver."

Mom 2: (getting out paper and writing notes) "Who is the driver? What are his home and cell phone numbers?"

Mr. Allegro: "I don't know. They..."

Mom 2: "You don't know? Do you know anything about him? Does he have a police record? Is he in good health?"

Mr. Allegro: "Well, I have to assume..."

Mom 2: "You mean he might not be? THIS IS THE PERSON RESPONSIBLE FOR MY DAUGHTER'S LIFE AND YOU DON'T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT HIM? I'd like to see his medical records before the trip. Have them sent to my home fax. Get his name so I can Google him, too."

At this point a parent wandered in late and asked a few questions that had already been answered during the initial presentation, visibly annoying everyone

Mom 3: "What about the bus? Is it new? Old? Have a history of accidents?"

Mr. Allegro: "The company supplies the bus, and I don't know which one we'll..."

Mom 3: "So for all we know it was recently in a major accident and has shitty brakes. That's SO reassuring. Can we review its maintenance records in advance?"

Mr. Allegro: "Uh, you'll have to call Pinto Lines."

School janitor walks in, is surprised to see people in the room, apologizes, leaves.

Mom 4: "What is the closest hospital and emergency room to the camp?"

Mr. Allegro: "Uh..." (grabs a notebook) "West State Regional Hospital."

Mom 4: "Is it a Level I Trauma center?"

Mr. Allegro: "It has an emergency room. What does 'Level I Trauma' mean? I'm just the music teacher!"

Mom 5: "Do you know if it has board-certified physicians? Michael is always falling off roofs."

Mr. Allegro: "The kids aren't going to be on the roof. They're not allowed there."

Mom 5: "That won't stop Michael. Where there's a roof to fall off of, he'll find a way."

Mom 6: "It says here the kids aren't allowed to bring firearms, tobacco, alcohol, or illegal drugs?"

Mr. Allegro: "Correct. Those will be provided there."

Me and the cardiologist crack up, the others glare at us. Mr. Allegro regrets having tried to joke.

Mom 7: "Why can't they have their phones on the bus at least? It's a 4 hour drive"

Mr. Allegro: "Because we don't want them brought at all. The bus has TV screens, like on planes, and we're taking movies to watch."

Another parent comes in late, asks the same questions that had already been answered during the initial presentation and for the first late parent, further annoying everyone.

Mom 3: "What are the movies rated?"

Mr. Allegro: "G and PG. I think we have 'Wreck-It Ralph,' 'Frozen,' 'Monsters University,' and "Despicable Me 2.' "

Mom 3: "Doesn't 'Wreck-It Ralph' promote violence? I think I read that in Crazyfuck Parent Today."

Mom 2: "No, it doesn't. Besides, from the way your daughter treats mine I'm pretty sure she's used to violence."

School janitor walks in again, is still surprised to see people in the room, apologizes, leaves.

Mom 7: "I don't want Cindy to see 'Frozen' again. She'll come home singing that stupid song that makes me want to slit my wrists."

Mr. Allegro: "You're certainly welcome to send any DVD's of G and PG movies you want, and I can let the kids vote on it."

Mom 4: "These kids are only 12. They're not old enough to make decisions like that."

The cardiologist takes 2 chocolate bars out of her purse, offers me one. A lady behind us says "you're doctors and you eat that shit? Remind me to never come to you." We both ignore her.

Mom 8: "Susan gets headaches a lot, so I want to send her with a bottle of Tylenol. Is that okay?"

Mr. Allegro: "Sure, just fill out the medication form that was in your packet. There's a full-time nurse at camp, too."

The cardiologist whispers to me "Rachel takes Adderall. I thought about writing on the form that the teacher should give it rectally to see what they'd do, but Rachel would never speak to my again." We both snicker, other parents glare.

Mom 5: "How do we know it's really Tylenol, and your daughter isn't selling something?"

Mom 8: "Really, Beth? You should pay better attention to your own son's issues."

Yet another parent comes in late, asks the same questions that had already been answered during the initial presentation and 1st & 2nd late parents, further annoying everyone.

Mom 9: "Is the camp nut-free?"

Mr. Allegro: "Yes. Please don't send snacks with your kids, they'll be provided for them."

Mom 3: "Is your son allergic to nuts?"

Mom 9: "Not that I know of, but I keep them out of the house anyway in case he becomes allergic."

Janitor walks in again, is still surprised to see people in the room, apologizes, leaves. Cardiologist whispers "Is he one of your dementia patients?" Lady in front of us turns around and goes "Shhhh!"

Mom 10: "What about gluten free?"

Mr. Allegro: "No, but we can make arrangements. Does your daughter have Celiac disease?"

Mom: 10: "No, she tested negative, but I still won't let her have gluten. I read that it's being put into foods as part of the government's secret eugenics program."

The cardiologist grabs and squeezes my forearm so hard that she draws blood, I kick her under the table. Lady next to us thinks we're playing footsy and looks disapprovingly. I briefly consider pretending the twins are Kosher just to liven up the party.

Mom 11: "Will you guys be in tents?"

Mr. Allegro: "No, it's a dormitory with 2 wings, girls on one side, boys on the other. The adults will be in the hallway between them."

Mom 1: "Does it have fire sprinklers?"

Mr. Allegro: "Uh, I think so..."

Mom 1: "Are the safety inspection certificates online, where I can see them?"

(School janitor walks in again, is still surprised to see people in the room, apologizes, starts to leave. Cardiologist grabs my arm, drags me out after the janitor).

Janitor: "Can I help you?"

Dr. Cardio: "No, we just needed to get out of there."

Dr. Grumpy: "I think you broke my arm."

Dr. Cardio. "I don't care. I couldn't take it anymore. And you couldn't, either."

Dr. Grumpy: "No shit."

Janitor: "Moms today get crazy at these meetings. They'll be there all damn night."


LW said...

I'm not sure I'd have stifled the guffaws. Poor music teacher.

And nobody referenced American Pie? 'this one time, at band camp...'


Kim said...

That's disturbing. People are insane.

Kristin said...

Oh, if only it weren't least the nutso ones are entertaining. The late ones who aren't polite enough to wait until after the meeting to ask what they've missed are the ones I want to choke. And the teachers who don't tell them that they'll answer their questions at the end.

Anonymous said...

Oh this was just awesome!

webhillizzy said...

Be glad you aren't on the school sports email distribution list. Don't even get started on the snack fascists.

Andrea said...

One of my favorite posts yet. Hilarious! I couldn't answer my phone when it rang because I was laughing so hard.

Anonymous said...

Janitor was trying to give people clues it was time to STFU and leave.. No Dementia just trying to help out the poor teacher.

Dr.M said...

Omg. Crazy fucking parents. Things to look forward to.... Not. I hope when my daughter starts school she makes friends with at least one kid with normal, sarcastic, smart, badass parents like ourselves.

Anonymous said...

And people wonder why these kids end up in therapy...

Packer said...

I knew the allergy mom would pop up. I remember BS Camp, where they had live rattle snakes in a pit--when ever they would catch one they would put it in the pit- open pit surrounded by 2 foot high cement wall, with a sign saying don't touch the snakes. They would have a mile open water swim, where the swimmer would be spotted by some random 12 year old rowing a boat somewhere in the vicinity of the swimmer. We were allowed to roam freely and widely, which we did. We survived.

As to the kid on the roof, I think he is trying to commit suicide, just saying.

Lizard said...

Hilarious. I only go to these things if I have an accomplice who can get me out when the time comes, like your friend the Cardiologist.

I would have started asking random questions, I think, probably about sex or puberty or something. "What if my daughter gets her first period when you are at camp?"

Batshit crazy. All of them. I love the teacher's attempted joke. I would have been on the floor.

Anonymous said...

Best post ever!

Susie said...

OMG! Rolling on the floor laughing. Are you sure you're not really a stand up comedian??

Andy Syms said...


ronstew said...


Moose said...

Ahh, helicopter parents. Everything MUST be sterile - no germs for MY child! I must know where they are 24x7. I must get a full background check on everyone who comes within 5 feet of them at any time. They must be protected from any potential dangers, including fire, flood, falling, food, some other "f" words, and Godzilla.

10 years from now, this:

Liss1481 said...

Awesome! I don't know if this makes me look forward to or dread when my son starts school...

Anonymous said...

A 'mona lisa' smile. Been there, done that; if only had a chance to do it all again. Would I do it any different? Maybe. Would I've been the one to sit on the second row, far right (closest to the door), and left promptly when the meeting was 'supposed' to be over? Or, would I've been the one to sit in the back, second from left, and wet myself (or ruptured something) from the held-in guffaws? I did a fair amount of volunteering at my kid's school and had an idea of these sorts of issues. I probably would've not entertained asking such inanities during a meeting of parents, I think. My kid was known as a weird duck, and a more apt question might not have been posed in the public forum. But, they did enjoy 5th grade camps.

Ms. Donna said...

Problem is, all the "Helicopter" parents make it hard for those w/ a real problem to get help.

For example, what if a child DOES have a nut allergy? Is allergic to certain medications? Must take a medication?

One of my kids had such issues. Instead of bringing them up in a parents' meeting, I raised the issues with the adult trip leader privately.

Note to the parents referenced: The "issues" were taken care of easily w/o a lot of bother.

Poor trip leaders. It is amazing that ANY child gets to go ANYWHERE w/ a school group.

Thank you for the laugh, and the cardiologist sounds like a hoot!

Anonymous said...

Please send a bottle Wild Turkey to Mr. Allegro. He needs it. After that I would have joined my spouse at Happy Hour.

Anonymous said...

Great post and absolutely right on! I am a teacher and deal with this kind of stuff on a daily basis. I don't know how I survived childhood----eating gluten, being around nuts, no bicycle helmet, no car seats. Helicopter parents--the death of society according to anyone over 40!


Anonymous said...

Mr Allegro is a hero. I'm sure he and the janitor privately call it the GTPKABFTPC (Give The Poor Kids A Break From The Parents Camp ). Just like Mary is a hero:
GPGABFTP (you go and figure that one out for yourself).

Anonymous said...

One of the many reasons I am thankful I was home-schooled and why we'll be doing the same for our kids...

Anonymous said...

Well now I feel like a slacker. At the open house for the camp my 8 year old and my 13 year old will be going to this summer, I didn't ask anything about diet, fire alarms/sprinklers, or back up plans if the camp director has a heart attack that week.

Anonymous said...

cue in

Wendy at Taking the Long Way Home said...

Oh My God. This is what every day is like in my life as a PNP. Today's my day off, and now I feel like I was at work.

You need a license to fish. But not to be a parent.

Your Doctor's Wife said...

That's exactly why I sit there and just take sips from my "water" bottle.

MotherOfGooses said...

wow. just wow. that's a one-act play just begging to be cast.

Anonymous said...

Hey! I was at that camp meeting about 15 years ago! Back then, moms had concerns about whether the kids would be warm enough, whether there was adequate supervision so their little darling wouldn't get lost or be stolen by a madman, and were there laundry facilities and someone to do the laundry - really!

Worse yet, when my daughter went off to college, one mother simply could not relinguish the floor. She could not believe that someone from the campus health office was not going to assume responsibility for tracking down her 18-year old son to make sure he took his Adderall (and probably other psych meds, too). When she was told that he would be responsible for his own meds, she twitched so badly, I thought she was going to seize. Apparently, little Johnnie needs lots of supervision and she wanted the college to assume responsibility!

Nana said...

15 years ago, at my (Episcopal day) school, prior to the 8th grade trip to DC, one parent wanted to know what would be done to ensure that no one highjacked the plane...

jen said...

I'm less obsessive about my 5 year old son with autism who is a "runner", has multiple medical conditions, and is non-verbal than these parents are about their seemingly typical-functioning 12 year olds.

quixote said...

OMFG! You're kidding, right? But I read the comments, and it sounds like maybe neither you nor anybody else is kidding.

These kind of people are a thing now?

This is what comes of closing the mental hospitals.

Lin said...

Next time make a drinking game out of it. A sip every time a mother asks a stupid question. Note sip not shot, so that hopefully you're sober enough to get up and leave at the end.

sgs said...

Sheesh! What are those kids going to be like on college? Either they'll be huddled in fetal position under their desk, or they'll go completely berserk. ("Hey! Who's up for bungee-jumping beer pong?")

RehabRN said...


Loved it! I don't have another MD, but we nurses stick together and RehabLand Elementary for this sort of stuff.

One mom, an ED nurse, had to stop a meeting and say, "I get it and I have a fully stocked first aid kit."

Psycho mom finally shut up.

BTW I always try to carry snacks to those sorts of meetings. But coffee is my preferred drink to bring (since it gives you an excuse to leave the room once in a while if it gets stupid).

Too bad the custodian couldn't just pull the fire alarm to get them out of there. Ugh!

Anonymous said...

One of your best posts ever. It gave me a hearty laugh to start my day. Thank you sir.

Anonymous said...

I honestly was laughing out loud reading this post, imagining past parents I've worked with who could have played the roles of mom1, mom2, mom5 and mom8.

Jedi Master Ivyan said...

So, in the case of a zombie apocalypse, who would supply the tank that would safely deliver my son to our fallout shelter?

Marco said...

As George Carlin said, "Pretty soon, kids will need to wear a helmet when they Jack off!"

Moe said...

I went to college with some of their kids. Sadly, I now work with some as well.

"I can drink beer all night and Mommy isn't here to stop me!! Yay!!" followed by "What do you mean 'problems due to absenteeism'? Mommy didn't say that would happen!!"

Lisa said...

All my kids were in A.F.J.R.O.T.C. I was around for all 14 years that I had a kid in the program. The commander shut that sort of nonsence down with one sentence. "You are welcome to chaperone and supervise that if you'd like." He then would look to the back of the room at the long term moms to que us to roll on the floor with laughter. Worked every time. Responsibility and peer pressure are such wonderful things.

gloria p said...

One of your best posts. However, I don't get how your kids are 12 and you never ran in to these kinds of moms before. I bet you made Mom go to all the meetings.

Anonymous said...

You should have run to the liquor store and brought Mr. Allegro a beer. He deserved one. Or a 6-pack.

I get yelled at on the playground by helicopter moms because I let my boys climb trees and sit on top of the monkey bars and try to climb up the slide. I always remind them to watch out for other kids & if smaller ones try to imitate them they need to stop. Other than that, if they don't take risks in childhood, they'll grow up never knowing what they REALLY can and can't do.

Anonymous said...

Too funny! Kinda explains why some kids crack up and start shooting something

Anonymous said...

Wow, when I was 12 and went off to camp 6 hours away, my parents checked we had teachers, transport and some sort of nurse available.

And funny enough, my dad actually forgot to pick me up so I stayed over at my best friend's house til my mom got home and realized she was still missing a kid.

migrainuer said...

And this is why I left elementary education for the medical field. I needed to interact with fewer clinically insane people in my average day on the job.

Cathy H-S said...

So glad our kids are grown and moved out, I would have been unable to prevent a really snarky question. And I just don't get the germ phobic folks in general. The receptionist at my office washes her hands before using the restroom, and a former co-worker used to wash the plastic forks and spoons after she took them out of the Costco box in the kitchen drawer, before using. WTF?

ChaiTeaPaddy said...

I love you Dr Grumpy but I might love Dr Cardio more now!

Gizabeth Shyder said...

I love this post. I was taking call yesterday for a partner who had to fly out for a funeral. I was bummed to be at work on a weekend I had my kids (luckily it was one of the easiest call Saturdays I ever had). I laughed so hard when I read this over morning coffee I almost peed in my pants.

Reminds me of over-regulation of lab inspections that are happening these days. I think everything is getting so over-regulated something's gonna explode. I hope it's not me, ha ha.

Anonymous said...

Cathy-I understand the receptionist, because I used to be a cashier, and money is absolutely disgustingly filthy. My fingers would sometimes turn black by the end of the day, and yes I washed my hands before and after using the restroom, because I didn't want the money filth touching my junk. The costco forks though... that's loony.

Anonymous said...

I agree on the money thing. I worked as a cashier during college. One day a guy came through my lane and handed me a wad of damp cash he fished out of the front of his underwear to pay for his purchase. I tucked it under the tray in the cash register, told him to have a nice day, and apologized to the next person in line but that I HAD to go wash my hands now. She (looking somewhat bug-eyed) told me to please go ahead...

Me said...

I'm trying to think of how much of this actually happened and how much of it is embellished. I'm hoping that there is a good amount of embellishment going on, but I think this might be one of those situations where life is stranger than fiction.

Óli said...

OOwwwww, my ribs xD

Betty from NJ said...

I have been to many of these type of meetings...SCA is the worst. They are equally as annoying, but not as amusing as this.
Thanks for the hearty laugh. I so needed that!!

Library-Gryffon said...

Sadly I've dealt with these women as the wife of a submariner, in meetings with squadron when there have been changes to the boat's schedule. And one woman after another will ask the same damn question. After the third or fourth, you have to wonder how masterchief keeps from yelling at or strangling them.

As for the kids, I've had a fellow girl scout troop mother look at me like I was carelessness personified because on Saturday mornings I would bring my girls (9 and 7 I think at the time) to the Border's bookstore kids program and leave them in the back while I had coffee and read in the café. She wouldn't let her kid at 9 out of her sight, and made sure that the child had a cell phone with GPS (10 years ago). I was a very bad parent for assuming that my kids would be OK without my hovering. That a) we went there every Saturday so the entire staff knew them, b) the girls knew not to leave with anyone except me and c) if anyone tried to take them they knew to scream and go limp didn't affect her view of my parenting.

By know her kid should be heading off to college. I wonder how either of them will survive.

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