Thursday, October 21, 2010
School friendship breakfast for unfriendly Dad
The only thing I really dislike about being a parent is being with other parents. They’re uptight. They mind their manners. They act like my parents did when I was a kid.
Who the hell needs that?
Sure, with enough alcoholic reinforcement, I can tolerate even the most crushing bores. But most situations involving parents -- people who really need a stiff drink -- are held in places where alcoholic consumption is frowned upon.
Like breakfast at our fourth grader’s elementary school. Not a whiskey bottle in sight.
I guess I should have looked in the teacher’s lounge.
We dressed up and took our trombone-toting daughter (today’s band class) to school this morning for what they were calling the Friendship Breakfast.
As soon as I was informed my attendance was mandatory, I vowed to be the least friendly parent in the whole place.
It’s just an uncomfortable social situation where the small talk is busted clear down to microscopic levels. Everybody is busy judging everybody else.
Half the parents there dress like they think they’re better than me and half look at the way I’m dressed and think I think I’m better than them.
I always try and dress like a dandy for these functions because I want the other parents to know I think I’m better than them.
I believe this because I’m the only one who doesn’t take any of this education stuff seriously.
Never have. Can you believe it?
I’ve never been in an enforced education setting where getting an education was a priority.
For me, it’s always been about having fun, giggling, skipping class, meeting girls and doing things that made the teachers want to ditch their cushy union jobs and skedaddle back to stocking shelves down at the department store.
This is rich with irony because the only real non-pajama job I’ve had since 1992 involves -- you guessed it -- teaching!
But let’s set that fertile field aside for future self-psychoanalysis.
Let’s talk about how I start to twitch whenever I step into a school, as I did this morning. It’s an electric feeling knowing at any second I could do something spontaneous that will cause my darling daughter years of enduring embarrassment.
Let the games begin!
“All right, Josie,” I said, “you pick: should I try and impress your classmates by playing your trombone for everyone? Challenge your principal to a cafeteria wrestling match? Or take my shirt off when we sit down for breakfast?”
“No!” she shrieked. “Daddy, don’t you dare do any of that stuff. I’d die!”
I told her she’d misunderstood. I wasn’t asking her to pick which one I should do. I was asking her which one I should do first.
Of course, I didn’t have the guts to do any of that stuff. Mostly I just nodded politely and engaged the other adults in safe, profanity-free subjects conversations. I didn’t start a spitball battle, fake sneeze on a prissy girl or do any of the fun stuff that would have led to getting hauled down Memory Lane to the principal’s office.
I acted like, groan, a grown-up.
I couldn’t embarrass our daughter. And, really, I wouldn’t want to do anything that would show any disrespect to the many fine teachers who’re educating our children.
I mean it. We’ve been really lucky. All of Josie’s teachers have been great and I respect the difficult job they’re daily doing.
Maybe I’m feeling a little latent remorse for being such a class clown all those years ago.
See, I’ve gotten to know many of her teachers personally. In fact, many of our district's teachers come to the bar beneath my office to drink and blow off steam. They’re good people.
Strange though, don’t you think? They can come to get loaded at the building where I work, but if I did the same thing at the building where they work I’d no doubt get in big trouble.
Doesn’t seem fair.