Friday, August 20, 2010

Hot August Night

Last night was "Meet the 4th grade teachers night" at the twins' school. For most families only one parents needs to go, but when you have 2 kids in the same grade, you both go and take notes.

This is never fun. Because it's pretty damn hot in the building. School ends at 3:00, and the district, to save money, turns off the air conditioning at 3:15. In the middle of freakin' Summer. So by 5:00 the classrooms are sweltering.

The teachers aren't too fond of this either, because they have to stay late in the hot room, and deal with that most dreaded creature of all, the crazed parent. I show up with nothing but my clothes and cell phone (which I silence) and most parents do the same.

But there are a terrifying minority who show up with detailed print-outs of their kids capabilities, restrictions, non-allergic and non-religious dietary requirements ("Suzy likes PBJ and chips, so I pack those. Make sure she eats 1/2 sandwich, THEN the chips, then the other sandwich half. Any other order is bad for brain growth. I read that in a magazine once"- Yes folks, I really did hear a parent say that last year).

So we file in. The room is hot. Many parents are pouring sweat, having just come from work in bulky business clothes. Then we have to find OUR kid's desk, and cram our big fat overweight adult butts into seats designed for a 9 year old.

So now, in addition to being hot, we were all miserably uncomfortable and complaining about back pain. Seeing an opportunity, I handed out some business cards.

As if it wasn't hot enough already, the door opened and Craig's teacher, Miss Reba walked in. And the room went from hot, to hot and steamy.

She was sizzling. Suddenly all the Dads who'd been bitching about having to go to this were quiet. Now they were pissed off their kid didn't have a desk closer to the front of the room.

Miss Reba, as seen by the male parents.

And then the fun began.

Miss Reba had organized a detailed Powerpoint presentation, which was shown on some sort of interactive board at the front of the room (I guess blackboards and chalk have finally gone the way of the dinosaur). To advance slides, she had to tap on the board. Unfortunately, the board didn't grasp this concept very well, and so her taps had a 25% chance of advancing to the next slide, 25% chance of going to the previous slide, and a 50% chance of doing nothing. When the last happened, she'd pound on it repeatedly, getting louder each time, until we were afraid the board would crack or fall down.

Come to think of it, I think many of us were hoping it would fall, and knock her out. Some would get to leave early, and the rest would fight over who got to resuscitate her. As a doctor sitting in the front row, I figured I had a good shot.

She was a fast talker, but had only 1 hour to cover the entire school year. As a result, she leaped from topic to topic, ending each slide's summary by saying "And I update my website daily, so you can see what the kids are doing. Please check it regularly."

As usual, parents asked some remarkably stupid questions:

"You said the kids wouldn't have homework over the weekends. What about Fridays? Will you be sending stuff home for them to do on Friday nights?"

"If I send lunch with my kids, can you tell them what the nutritional value is? I think it's important that they know these things."

"Do you watch iCarly?"

"Do we need to check your website? Or can I just make my kid do it?"

And my personal favorite:

Miss Reba: "In music next month, the kids will learn about strings. Check my website for the dates."

Zealousfreak parent: "You mean string theory? Like in advanced physics?"

Miss Reba: "No. I said it's a music class. As in string instruments. Like a violin."

At this point, Miss Reba uttered the most dreaded words in the history of parent-teacher relationships: ""Now, I'll need some parents to volunteer..." Suddenly all of the hormonally charged fathers were checking their cell phones. Mothers suddenly had urgent texts to send. Nobody, not even the single fathers, made eye contact with Miss Reba as she ran down the list of class party organizers, reading assistants, paper copiers, and other volunteers that were needed. Usually there's some hyperactive-mother-on-speed who immediately leaps out of her chair and signs up for all of this, but she wasn't here tonight. I began picking at my face and loudly mentioned that my Leprosy treatments kept me from working with kids.

After getting home, Mrs. Grumpy and I compared notes, and now she wants to kill me.

She'd filled up a notebook listing times, dates, subjects, schedules, and phone numbers from Marie's teacher.

I had a piece of scrap paper I'd pulled out of Craig's desk on which I'd written "Check website regularly."


Unknown said...

At least your school did it after working hours, our did it at 3:00 in the afternoon. When my wife emailed the principal to ask "what about all the children that have parents that work", the principal responded that she didn't want to have to make her teachers stay late. Clearly, having a couple hundred parents take a few hours vacation time is preferable, and having the teachers come in late so they only have a 8 hour work day is too complicated.

At least it gave me the "I have a meeting I can't get out of, so you'll have to go" excuse.

Kathy G said...

This brought back memories of the many years I spent wedged into a too-small classroom seat. However, my kids went to school in the days before the Internet and teacher websites. Everything was written down. And easy to misplace.

BTW, you'll find that the "hyperactive mothers on speed" who volunteer for everything start to get burned out about the time their darlings get into middle school. Better be prepared.

Candice said...

I'm really surprised that they still make those tiny desks for the kids. They aren't exactly as small as they used to be.

As a matter of fact, just yesterday I saw a few two ton children that could have given Gabourey Sidibe a run/walk for her money.

Angela said...

Wow, your kids start school early. School doesn't start here until after labour day!


The Plaid Cow said...

Mother's know all of their little angels each of the hopes, dreams and aspirations. Dad realize there are short people living in the house.

Check the website sounds like a good set of notes to me.

Chrysalis said...

Our school system only uses A/C in the office. The rest of us sweltered. I brought in fans for all of us, not necessarily a great thing after PEW...I mean PE.

CrownedwithVictory said...

oh I haaaaate the dumb parent Q&A during the open house meetings. They take forever, and those of us with more than one child wonders: what is happening in the other classroom and can I squeeze by Suzy and her entire family reunion to get out of there?

Anonymous Bad Parent said...

Simple solution: twins in the same class. They also do their homework twice as fast as singletons (half each, then switch and copy).

Sandra said...

Jackie, the kids here went back to school on the 11th. As in, LAST week.

Amanda C said...

I had back-to-school night last night also. My 6th grader's classroom has a "smart board" that is interactive and uses touch control. His teacher couldn't get it to work either. At least they had the A/C on! lol

EMT GFP said...

When "smart boards" are working, which is 50% board functionality, 50% does the user know how to use it properly, they are things of beauty, particularly once college/master's programs/work presentations are involved. Being able to write on a board over a slide and save those notes is a wonderful way to double check notes that may or may not have been written down or drawn properly.

When either board fails or the user is clueless, "smart boards" become the thing of nightmares :)

ireflect said...

Wow!!! Dr. Grumpy!
How can I say this? You are a visionary in humor....

I too had a parent orientation yesterday night - and yes, the initial intro in the gym was "sweltering", and no, no steam source of any kind :-(
Reached home in two and a half hours to a ravenous self, kid and DH.....
Pizza Hut never tasted so delicious - I even thought I tasted fresh olive oil in it lol!!!

Anonymous said...

The day my rare slate blackboard is replaced by a smartboard is the day I start a low rent "business school" in a strip mall with my board.

Subjects include logic, meta-ethics, epistemology, information science, and basic math. Office hours are at the mexican restaurant next door with dollar margaritas and two dollar pitchers on Tuesday and Thursday.

arzt4empfaenger said...

Haha, brilliant! Gotta love those scraps of paper. :)

Anonymous said...

teachers generally think they are god's gift to future generations and civilisation as a whole. i ignored them at school (and life turned out ok) and still ignore them today. a scrap of paper seems apt.

Anonymous said...

In my twins' schhol, twins are placed in the same class by default unless asked to be separated specifically by the parent. In fact, siblings are 'sorted' into the same 'sporting houses' (think Gryffindor, Slytherin etc) as their parents were when they were students of the school. Apparently, this is done to ensure 'harmony' at home as the school has a very competitive sporting culture and there were incidents of 'house rivalry' amongst siblings belonging to rival houses! I digress.

Anyway, I requested for my 9yo boys to be placed in different class when I registered them. These people have the uncanny ability to 'inspire' one another into mischief and I'm really not interested to be called in by the principal every other week.


Radioactive Tori said...

I didn't know you had twins around my twins age(s?) That sentence sounds awkward and I can't figure out how else to word it, sorry. I have 5th grade twins. They have been in the same class for a few years and this year are separate again. We didn't request either, just go with whatever the school does for them each year and both have been fine, although together made the paperwork/volunteering much easier for me...but I suppose it isn't about me, right?

Our meet your teacher night for parents is at 7, but last year I had 3 classes to go to at once because they grouped 4-6 grades on the same night and I had 2 fourth graders and a sixth grader.

Anonymous said...

Our elementary school is doing the meet the teacher night 3 weeks AFTER school starts. This makes 3 times in 4 years that the event takes place after the start of school.

Apparently this is done to not offend the parents who wait until school starts to register their kids, but I honestly find it quite insulting to the rest of us.

The Mother said...

I do not attend those events.

I figure if it's important, they'll send a note home.

If it's important and I didn't get a note, the principal will eventually call me.

Now, if Hugh Jackman decided to teach 9th grade Algebra 2...

k said...

Peach County Georgia started school Aug 3rd!! To save money they are on a 4-day week with extended days; but I've noticed the A/C is running on that 5th day sometimes anyway- gotta love GA!

Jules said...

Ohhh Dr Grumpy, I'm printing this one out to share with my coworkers tomorrow. You make me laugh so hard that I almost wish I had a tumor as an excuse to see you in person

Anonymous said...

I am a teacher I send all the information in writing the first day of school. I keep a copy and highlight all the things that parents might miss. That is what I present at the open house. It takes about 15 minutes. Then I open it up to questions another 15 minutes. I am out of there in 30 minutes. I'm pretty sure if my principal found out she will probably be visiting my classroom during open house.

R. May said...

I don't do back to school anything (I do take child to meet the teacher day). I went once, when child was in K and I learned absolutely nothing of any use. I don't need to know what my child will be doing beyond learning type stuff and since it's school I already know that will take place. Knowing when lunch/recess/p.e./music/etc is has no bearing on me because I will not be there.If there is anything I need to know, it better come home in a folder or be on the wesite. We've made it to grade 4 with no issues.

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