Monday, August 3, 2015

Meh.....the PTA

Every year I join the PTA.  I am even a chairperson on the PTA at the elementary school.  
But I really don't like the PTA. 

Don't get me wrong, the PTA has never done anything to me.  I like the people who participate in the PTA with me.  I know that what they do at the school builds interest and enthusiasm and generates money... all that good stuff.  

But the PTA tends to get a little....weird.  A little too much like a clique or a middle-aged sorority.  I don't say this as a negative about my kids' school.  I think EVERY school PTA tends to get this way.  

So this week's relaunch of the PTA grind (and it becomes a grind) is something I'm meeting with underwhelming resignation.  

Last year I felt compelled at the first PTA board/chairperson meeting to announce that I'd talked to at least 3 parents who complained about the clique-ish-ness of the PTA.  Basically, I said something on the order of, "Quit talking to your PTA friends at school events and welcome parents."  I think things improved.  If nothing else, we got bright t-shirts that say "PTA" so parents who don't know us personally can at least zone in on the shirts and know whom to direct questions (if anyone is spending too much time PTA-socializing and not enough time being welcoming to people they don't know).  

This year's shirt says "Peace, Love, PTA."  I didn't vote for it.  In my experience, there is very little that is peaceful or loving about the PTA.  A better descriptor would be "Freaking Out, Tolerating, PTA."  PTA volunteers are often freaking out about the amount of work involved.  At best, they are tolerating all the busyness and politics.  But whatev.  I was outvoted and accept it.  I will wear the shirt if for no other reason than to have one extra day a week that I don't need to do laundry.  

But I totally, TOTALLY get why the PTA becomes clique-ish and weird.  There is a small group of reliable, consistent volunteers.  They try to get other people involved, and no one helps, which means the reliable, consistent volunteers band together.  "Hey, you help, and I can count on you.  Let's be friends and develop inside jokes and all that stuff."  It is what happens.  (The other parents arrive at the carpool line 6.5 hours before school lets out and dork around on their phones instead of coming into the building and volunteering.  Or helping me pull weeds at the carpool line.)

I am in "charge" (and I say that with a looseness that is ridiculous) of Beautification.  Basically, I do a shitload of weeding and organizing and don't get paid.  But I really do enjoy gardening (I kind of Zen out so it is meditative), and I'm ok with it.  

I refuse, REFUSE, to do anything more than this.  I will never, ever, ever run to be a president or a secretary or a treasurer or a VP of anything on the PTA.  I would be the worst-possible president, secretary, treasurer or VP of anything because I'd eliminate like 3/4 of the activities.  As a teacher, I was never the type who did fun stuff.  I made my learning activities interesting and enjoyable, but I was all business.  If I were heavily involved in PTA, I would want to eliminate all the cool activities (like festival) because they are 1. too much work and 2. I don't care about them.  That is not the kind of person you want to have in charge of PTA.  

The periphery.  I tend to hang on the periphery of things in life, including the PTA.  And I know there is a little part of me that would like to be in the clique, to feel included and popular, but I also know that if I was included, I wouldn't actually go to anything.  I'd want to do my own thing.  Which is apparently weeding and organizing.  

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