Last night was Parent/Teacher Conferences, f/k/a Open House, at Chooch’s school. Chooch kept mouthing off last week about how it was actually on Monday and I was like, “Yeah right, shut up, kid. What do you know?” Because, really. Who listens to an 8-year-old, amirite? Kid has gotten his seat moved like 18 times since the beginning of the school year, so I figured he was trying to thwart any chance of a Parent/Teacher powwow.
Henry and I got to the school a few minutes early. Like any other time we’ve gone to these things, the door to the school was wide open and the hallways were lit. A giant WELCOME PARENTS banner hung in the hallway.
Which was empty.
Typically, there’s a bake sale table set up right inside the doors and parents milling about. But that night, it was eerily quiet.
However, the door to Chooch’s classroom was open and the lights were on, but no one was there.
“Maybe she went to get dinner,” Henry suggested. So we continued to walk up and down the hallway, looking at all the artwork (in my case, making fun of it because I’m a dick), until I noticed that it was now 5 minutes after we were scheduled to meet with the teacher.
“Are you sure it was tonight?” Henry asked me for the 87th time; I was very indignant and sure of myself the first 58 times he asked me, but I have to admit that I was now beginning to doubt myself.
“I mean, that’s what I chose!” I cried defensively. A paper was sent home and I circled “Thursday” and “6:30.” I WAS SO SURE OF IT UP UNTIL NOW.
Just then, a lady burst through the doors and ran up to us.
“Where is the library?” she wheezed from her heroic jog.
We shrugged, so she asked the janitor who told her to follow the signs. I noticed those signs but didn’t think anything of them, but when we asked the janitor if there were conferences going on that night, she told us, “Yes, in the library. Follow the signs.”
That’s weird that the signs wouldn’t blatantly say that, I thought to myself. They said something else that related to parents, Parent Nation or something, so I guess good old Open House was going through its third name change. Good to know. I guess the library was like the meeting place? We’d meet the teacher and she’d escort us back to her classroom? Seemed stupid. But then again, all school things seem stupid to me.
We walk into the incredibly small library just as the school principal is in the middle of talking about the best methods of approaching other parents. Everyone looked up and gave us a warm welcome, and one lady stood up and made a huge commotion over rearranging seats at the table to give us room to sit.
This must be Chooch’s teacher, I thought. She seemed so happy to see us!
There were 8 other people there, sitting at this table, and they all seemed pretty enrapt in the discussion. Some people were even frantically scribbling notes (and not just doodling; I checked).
I figured it was a mix of other teachers and parents, that this was some kind of program we’d have to sit in for a little while before conferences began.
Chooch’s teacher happily slid some handouts to us from across the table. Those, in conjunction with another woman complaining about how hard it was to get the principal at her school to respond to complaints, made me eyes start to glaze over.
And then—wait, why was this lady speaking about another school?
Chooch’s teacher seemed to be doing most of the talking and all I heard was “INVOLVEMENT! COMMUNITY! CHILDREN!” Basically three things that I’m not about.
They started talking about a food drive at one point. And a Latino Parents Group.
After about 20 minutes of this, Henry spoke up and asked, “Excuse me, but is this the parent teacher conference?”
Everyone turned and stared at us.
The principal repeated the question back to Henry and said, “No….those were Monday.” And then he said what this thing was but I can’t remember now because I didn’t care enough.
“You’re welcome to stay!” Chooch’s Teacher who clearly is not actually his teacher because his actual teacher was probably home watching the HOCKEY GAME WHICH IS WHAT I SHOULD HAVE BEEN DOING, said warmly. “And please stay!”
“Yes, stay!” everyone said collectively like it was a fucking cult. A cult of parents! The worst kind!
“Well, we’re here now, so why not!” Henry said with a laugh, at the same time I was beginning to stand up to leave. So I sank back down in my uncomfortable chair and side-eyed him menacingly.
We got more handouts.
Then people got to ask questions.
“Boy, there are so many issues to comment on, it’s so hard to pick!” laughed the Asian dad next to me and I was like STFU this is dumb. This is around the time I began to notice the broad ethnic spectrum in the room. I guess it was some urban parents’ group, I don’t know, but there was a lot of concern about crime and violence within the schools. Apparently, this was some kind of monthly round table and this month it just happened to be hosted by Chooch’s school.
I thought this meant we were nearing the end of the thing, and I was getting especially eager to leave. My face was still flushed with the horror of having eyes on me and I felt like my scarf was slowly choking me. Also, it was really hot in that room and I wanted food. But not their food. It looked weird and meaty.
Then some dumb lady with a baby started firing off questions about how Chooch’s principal handles bullying in the school, and that part of the night was actually supremely interesting to me. I also liked hearing how much the principal enjoys interacting with the kids there. For Christ’s sake, he knew we were Chooch’s parents as soon as we asked him about the conference.
Since we were on the topic of bullying, one of the ladies who had been studiously scribbling notes piped up about the program they’re doing at her school for bullying. “We’re doing these skids,” she kept Skids? Like skidmarks? That’s all I could think about, and I was trying not to laugh but everyone was just nodding earnestly. “Parents are going to get on stage and be bullied in these skids,” she said.
“OK, we’ve only got about 30 minutes left, so I’m going to hand it over [some other lady] for the trivia portion of the night,” Not Chooch’s Teacher announced. She started passing out sheets of fluorescent paper and I was like, “No, I’m not doing this. Peace out, bitches.” So I kicked Henry under the table and we politely excused ourselves.
“Well, it was nice meeting you all, but we’re going to have to leave now. Only got the babysitter for an hour!” Henry said jovially. OK MR. PERSONALITY.
The principal walked us out to the hallway and we had a nice conversation with him about Chooch and how he’s doing but then Not Chooch’s Teacher came running out with a clipboard and said, “I know you guys were here accidentally, but we would love it if you gave us your name and number so we can contact you about future events!”
And because I just can’t say no, I signed the dumb thing and didn’t even put down Planned Parenthood’s phone number instead of mine.
Then Chooch’s principal (whose name I’ve apparently been mispronouncing for the last year) promised to tell Chooch’s teacher that we were there and would still like to talk to her.
“Yeah, I just don’t want her to think that we, you know, blew her off,” I said matter-of-factly and the principal laughed nervously like saying we blew someone off is suddenly edgy and provocative.
When we got home and told Henry’s mom what had happened, Chooch stood up and cried, “I TOLD YOU CONFERENCES WERE ON MONDAY!!!!” He was one smug little fucker.
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