Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Becoming "That" Mom

Last night I spent the evening doing a science project. I don't have to tell you that I wasn't happy about it. Ya'll, I'll just be real: I hate science. Science is what happens when the devil and math have babies. I don't understand it, I don't want to understand it, and seriously, I'd kinda like to pretend that it doesn't exist.

But 7:00 pm found me writing the steps of the scientific method on a poster board (you see, I have better handwriting than my daughter does. And our printer ran out of ink. Right before the washer overflowed. Did I mention that? Cause it happened. And yes, it was horrible.) And 8:00. And at 9:00, Gabby was finishing up, and I was rocking on the couch, moaning inconsolably about hypotheses. We worked hard on that project really, for the last two nights. Both of us. Because here's the thing guys: when a teacher assigns a project, he/she doesn't assign it to the kid. Nosiree. He assigns it to the kid, his/her parent (the one who is unlucky enough not to be working late), and possibly the kid's neighbors who have to open up the door when the kid and her mother are standing (in the rain) with yogurt cups of different colored liquids saying, "Here. Drink this. FOR SCIENCE."

Gabby told me that she had to do this project two days ago. On Monday. And that it was due on Wednesday. For those of you who aren't parents and don't have the intimate knowledge of elementary school science projects, I'll just tell you this. That ain't a lot of time. Especially when a good deal of the science projects you can find listed online take multiple days to do. Like last year when we used vinegar to turn an egg into a bouncy little rubber ball. That took days just for the experiment. Add that to the fact that you have to scramble for materials (and some of them take some doing to find in a rural area like ours), and you are really looking at not much time. I, of course, immediately started lecturing Gabby about telling me these things. At first, she took it like a champ (meaning, of course, stared at me with steely indifference, all the while pondering how best to put the Nair in my shampoo), but then she started telling me that she didn't know about it. The teacher had only told them about the project that day. And even then, I continued on with my lecture. Responsibility! Timeliness! Work ethic! I can really get on a roll with these things. But she persisted. She hadn't known.

And I realized that she was probably right and probably not lying about it. Gabby's science teacher is, in PC terms, eccentric. In non-PC terms, she's an idiot who probably shouldn't be left with a room full of cats, much less impressionable children. Gabby couldn't tell you diddly-squat about anything science related, but she sure can tell you about who got up during science class and sang a Katy Perry song and did the hula. Because that stuff happens. Every day. Every parent of every kid who goes to my daughter's school knows about this teacher and kind of laughs about it. But no one really does anything. Because, you know, that would take effort. And I think we all want to think that when we send our kid to school, they will actually have a productive time. And then we stop thinking about it because there are bills to pay and practices to get to and the car needs oil. We just assume that things are going as they are supposed to.

But we did the science project. And then when Gabby was getting ready for bed, she comes out of her room and lets me know that some kid told her via Facebook chat that they didn't actually have to do it. That because the teacher didn't tell them in time, the whole thing was off. I told her that kids spread stories like that and sent her on to bed so I could watch the goddamned A's. Then, I checked my own Facebook and another parent had posted something similar on my wall. Still not feeling sure about it, despite the fact that this parent said she had gotten a call from the school stating as much. Then this morning, I get a call from another parent wondering if Gabby was bringing her project because she thought her daughter and Gabby would be the only ones. Awesome.

So I came to work and I wrote a careful, nicely thought out email to the principal about the whole situation. The lack of communication. The antics I hear about every day. I proofread it about 10 times to make sure I didn't come off as crazy lady, and I sent it on.

And then my stomach hit the ground and I immediately thought, "OH SHIT. I have become "that" mom." You know, "that" mom. She's the one who calls the softball coach to make sure her kid gets playing time, threatening stuff about going to league officials. The one who begs the College Board for extra time on her kid's SAT despite the fact that he has never been diagnosed with any kind of learning difference. The one whose kid never does anything wrong, it is always the teacher/other kids/Twinkies. I have always prided myself on not being her. But now, I am her. I am the emailing mom. The principal will probably roll his eyes at me the next time I come in the office.

I adore my kids. Like flat out, I am freaking in love with them. They are awesome. But they are kids. They are going to screw some stuff up. When I was a kid, I was like Godzilla, and my mother's poor brain was like Tokyo. So when something like this happens, my first thought is, "Ok, first, how do I get through this? Second, is this face mean enough to show how FILTHY STINKIN' MAD I am at this kid?" Because I know the kind of crap I pulled. And I know that my kids will be no different. So, yeah, I blame them. So when something like this happens and it ends up not being their fault, I feel guilty that I thought that in the first place, but also even more mad that someone dropped the ball. Because it's ok that kids mess up. I expect it. But adults? And the adults that are working with my kids? Yeah, not so much.

Which I'm sure is the justification "that" mom has when she pens her 50th email to the soccer coach. Sigh.


  1. Reading the one about Sam before this one PROVES you aren't THAT MOM. Sounds as though this teachers is a wackjob and should have had dozens of emails like yours a while ago.

  2. I guess I should have posted an update: the principal called me that day (from his car, actually, which was a little...odd) and told me that he was aware of the situation and had been trying to deal with it all year (this is his first year). He said he had spoken to several parents about the science fair, and understood the kind of position we were in as parents. He was very nice, and it made me feel much better. Plus he basically told me that whatever Gabby comes home and says is probably true, so to believe it.

    So I guess I'm not feeling like "THAT mom" anymore. :-) At least until the next time...