So then…I gratefully grab a seat in a tiny chair in the 1st grade classroom, along with three other Moms who also missed last night’s Back-to-School event. The teacher, Mrs. Tomasino, has graciously agreed to meet with us for a few minutes after school today to fill us in.
I exchange smiles with everyone – and conduct a quick appraisal of the other three Moms. One looks like she had to miss Back-to-School night for kid-care or work reasons, like me – the other two look like they missed it due to a conflict with their Bellydancing Class/Hot Stone Massages. (Judgy much? Why yes, yes I am.)
Mrs. Tomasino welcomes us to the class and holds up a list of items she’d like to quickly review with us.
But every time she tries to impart information, these two mamas interrupt her with questions specific to their kids.
Mom 1: “Are you doing Reading Circle in this class? My kid loves Reading Circle.”
Mom 2: “What kind of field trips are you having? My son really doesn’t like museums.”
Mom 1: “Do you serve cheese at the holiday parties? My kid is lactose-intolerant.”
Mom 2: “I hope there isn’t much homework; my son has lots of sports after school.”
Poor Mrs. Tomasino’s getting flustered.
Mom 3 and I exchange a couple looks.
Mrs. Tomasino starts to share the subjects the kids will cover each day when Mom 1 interrupts to ask:
“When is the Father-Daughter Dance? I think it might conflict with my daughter’s dance recital.”
The teacher looks surprised by this non sequitur and says, “I’m not sure of the date, but it’s months away.”
Mom 1 says, “Yes, but could you go check right now? I’m really thinking it might be the same date.”
So Mrs. Tomasino gets up, goes into the little side room of the class, shuffles through some papers and reports back the date. Mom 1 turns to Mom 2 and says, “Thank God! It’s a different date.”
Mom 2 says, “That’s a relief!”
Mom 3 and I exchange a glance like “What the hell?”
What if it HAD been the same date? Would Mom 1 petition the school to CHANGE THE DATE of the Father-Daughter Dance? I survey Mom 1’s carefully-groomed, well-toned, designer-clad tough-as-nails exterior and think, “Yep, she probably would.”
Meanwhile, I got kids to feed, work to do, and heels to take off, so I’m hoping we can wrap up this little meeting quickly. I’m eager to hear the info that the teacher wants us to know, but Mom 1 and 2 keep interrupting — which makes this meeting 10 times longer than it needs to be.
Then Mrs. Tomasino says, “Also, in 1st grade, we prefer that you don’t bring treats in for your children’s birthdays—”
Mom 1 interrupts to cheerfully say, “Speaking of birthdays, I heard you have three other kids in class who have the same birthday as my daughter! How did you get FOUR kids in your class, all with the same birthday!?”
The teacher looks at Mom 1 like she’s an alien.
Mom 3 and I look at Mom 1 like we want to punch her in the tits.
Honestly, the look on the teacher’s face is priceless – like “What the HELL are you talking about? ‘How did I get 4 kids with the same birthday in my class?’ Do you think I PLANNED that? Do you think I REQUESTED that? Who the hell cares about the birthdays? I’m trying to EDUCATE your kids here – I don’t have time to figure out whose birthdays are on the same day!”
By this point, Mrs. Tomasino’s patience is so thin, she just stares back at Mom 1 in dumbstruck awe.
Mom 1 keeps waiting for a response, but none is forthcoming. Her smile falters and she begins to squirm in her seat. She looks to Mom 2 for support. Mom 2 shrugs helplessly.
Mom 1 glances at me and Mom 3. We give her the cold-eyed stare of “You gotta be kidding me.” The multiple-birthday thing may be an interesting observation to make — but at a different time and place — not here and not now.
Mrs. Tomasino lets out a looooooong, dramatic sigh.
She rustles her paper with the meeting notes.
She stares pointedly at the list, then back up at Mom 1.
She authoritatively addresses the next point on her list, “For supplies, your children will need…”
And Mom 1 and Mom 2 do not say another word for the rest of the meeting.
You go, Mrs. Tomasino, you go!
Being friendly and accommodating is one thing.
But some people will take that inch and drag it into a painful country mile from here to the moon.
So you gotta shut that shit down.
Nicely done, Mrs. T, nicely done.
— Darcy Perdu
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(Have you witnessed other parents interrupting teachers or coaches to ask specific questions about their kids? Any tips how to deal with the time-wasters and me-focusers? How do you teachers out there handle those parents you want to stab with a No. 2 pencil?)