Suffering PTSD from the PTA?
Since when did volunteering become a blood sport?
Happy New Year! Shall I be quieter? Do you still have a hangover? Well this horrid thought will sober you up pretty darn quickly, we are launching into a new school year. Hooray! Summer holidays are over and parents are driving at breakneck speed to drop off zones everywhere after six weeks of late nights, rare bath times and diets of BBQ’d sausages, potato chips, soft drink and one tomato… and let’s not to mention what the kids ate!
This excitement over a formal education system and some much needed breathing space from our darling offspring, can result in some hasty decisions to make up for bad parenting over the summer.
We all want to be involved in our child’s school experience; I think it is our way of over-compensating for our own parents who barely knew which school we attended. I am pretty sure the only time my mum stepped inside school grounds was when she ‘volunteered’ for canteen duty after months of pestering from my brother and I. She mistakenly put tomato sauce on some poor kid’s apple turnover and was never asked to pull another shift. We always insisted that this assassination of pastry goods was intentional.
So that our own children don’t have to carry this emotional scar, we try to fulfill our school obligations along with all the other demands of parenting while, heaven forbid, also working or running a business. Having had had my own children in school for 12 years or more, I feel like I have a moral responsibility to pay it forward, so Auntie Jaq has two words she would like say when it comes to volunteering for parent roles at school….FIRE, RUN!
Slander, bullying, knee capping, gluten poisoning, white-anting (back-stabbing for you non-Aussies) and mental and emotional abuse, is not an extract from the log book at Guantanamo Bay. No my friends, these are just some of the lovely things you can expect, should you sign up for anything such as the Parent’s Association, Fete Committee, Team Manager or Coach, Book Week Coordinator, Class Rep, Friends of Junior School, Friends of Senior School or Friends of Friends Looking for More Friends. The job description usually involves no pay, no health insurance, no thanks and your email being distributed to every nut-bag in the school.
It is fraught with danger and side-effects that can lead to PTSD, social castration and a blood curdling fear of manila folders and finger sandwiches. If you were offered the choice between joining a school committee or a spot on Survivor Iceland – take the one where you at least have a fighting chance and I hear Iceland can be quite beautiful in the summer.
When I mentioned on Facebook that I was researching this column I was literally inundated with messages, phone calls and emails. I am also pretty sure Deep Throat left an unmarked enveloped on my doorstep, whistle blowing some of this shit wide open.
This is an actual email sent to me by a poor victim of what we now know as School Volunteer Abuse or SVA. I have changed the names to prevent a lawsuit.
The time has come for you to know that the other members of the Parent’s Association are more than capable of organising a school function. It is not necessary for you to assume that you are the only person responsible for organising cake stands and napkins for the cake stall.
If you had spent a few minutes reading the minutes from the last Parent’s Association meeting (enclosed) you would have seen that I was arranging the cake stall in conjunction with the grade 6 class.
At this stage the cake stall has been organised with the help of a number of people from the school community and the grade 6 class. You are not required to check on supplies in the kitchen, consult on cake selections or arrange a list of children/people attending, this has been already been taken care of.
If you wish to speak to (THE OTHER POWER HUNGRY COW) or myself about this function or any other upcoming event please feel free to speak to us in the playground or give me/us a call (do not email).
POWER HUNGRY COW FORMALLY OF A GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENT”
What other senseless crap can you lose years of your life debating in a committee room of mission brown paneling, sweat-induced seating and no handy cyanide capsule to bite down on?
Here is an actual list of topics that have traumatised other sufferers of SVA that I couldn’t make up if I tried:
1. Whether it is appropriate to serve vodka jelly shots at the parent welcome drinks?
– Only if it is served with a line of coke. Duh!
2. Having a white elephant or second hand stall is too lowbrow and will bring down the tone of the school fair.
– It’s a school not Harrods, you wankers.
3. Should the mini-quiches be served hot or cold at the grandparents’ morning tea?
– If it’s before 4.30pm in the afternoon, I am pretty sure retirees eat anything.
4. Class birthday parties should be lumped together three times a year and presents bought via a kitty, individual birthday parties should no longer be allowed.
– Zer vill be no more birsday parties ezer again!
5. Invitations to the school anniversary event should not be presented in envelopes with a wax seal and ribbon because it is too middle class.
– You know Kate and Wills only respond to invitations sent by a fucking footman.
6. School snacks from home should be gluten-free, nut-free, lactose-free or paleo.
– Deviate from this and run the risk of a major news network camping outside your home.
7. Should we have a parent helper cut up fruit for kinder, or have children bring their own non-sharing fruit? This will require 2 x 2 hour committee meetings and a letter to the kindergarten board.
– I think we just found Trump’s new cabinet.
8. Students will learn Italian for the first two years of primary school then switch to French due to the current teachers’ employment contracts with the Department of Education.
– And next year we welcome back Mr X after his extended leave as he teaches the students the ancient art of basket weaving, except for every third Thursday when he meets with the department psychologist.
9. Should the toilet paper in the student toilets be at least 3 ply?
– Because Little Johnny is only used to wiping his own arse with 3 ply and anything less than that may cause premature chaffing.
10. Should the kindergarten class be segregated based on IQ?
– Yes, put those who pick their nose in one group, and those who pick other kid’s noses in the other.
So, if you or anyone you know is suffering from School Volunteer Abuse, or you are having trouble recognising the symptoms, please contact your local bottle shop, off-license or wine bar and some trustworthy friends. The first step is knowing you need to talk about it, and that is better done after at least two gin and tonics.