I have always dreamed of becoming a PTO mom.
I mean, technically I’ve been a PTO member at my stepdaughters’ schools for years … but having two small children pretty much limited my participation to sending in food for bake sales and team dinners. As disappointing as it was to miss out on all that PTO-cialization, I waited patiently, knowing the day would come when my daughter would start kindergarten and I could mingle with the PTO parenting elite to my heart’s content.
And I had my strategy all plotted out. I’d start slowly at first, attending the monthly PTO meetings dressed to kill in immaculate sweater sets with my makeup artfully applied and every hair in place. At first, the veteran PTO moms would be suspicious. In time, though, I’d win them all over with my clever fundraising ideas and motivational speeches, not to mention the bi-monthly PTO-tini nights I’d hold at my home. Within the year, I’d unanimously be elected president.
Soon after, of course, my popularity would soar to such dizzying heights that the school would commission a portrait of me to hang in its lobby. My adoring PTO mom friends would secretly arrange for me to appear on Oprah, where I’d inspire the other PTO moms of America with my passion and style. And I’d start a line of perfumes of course. Eau de ‘O. Obviously, the PTO was all that stood between me and pure, unadulterated bliss.
And so, when the first day of school started, I joined the PTO with great excitement. For days, I sat by the phone, anxiously awaiting my welcome call and further instructions. I scoured my e-mails for information about the first meeting. I checked my mailbox five times a day for PTO mailers. I tore through Punky’s folder each afternoon for PTO announcements.
A month passed, and then another. I was busy volunteering in my daughter’s classroom, so my PTO dreams went on the backburner as I struggled to pwn the lamination and die-cut machines. Finally, though, I received a note in my daughter’s school folder, asking for volunteers for the PTO’s upcoming fundraiser. It was my time to shine at last, and I was more than ready to show those dames what they’d been missing. With trembling hands, I checked off the necessary boxes on the form and sent it back in. And then I waited for a response.
And heard …
Finally, weeks later, I received a mass email from a PTO member, who desperately needed help with the upcoming fundraiser. At last! An in!
I e-mailed her back, offering my help.
I got no response.
“I don’t understand,” I said to a mom friend I ran into at lunch a few days ago. “I joined the PTO. I tried to volunteer, more than once. But they won’t respond to anything I send them. I can’t even figure out when they’re holding the meetings.”
“Oh, you’re not the only one,” she said. “I’ve had kids here for three years and I’ve yet to hear about a single meeting. They just want your money.”
I thought back to the times I had seen the PTO moms at school, shrieking and hugging and looking very busy. Did they really just want my money? But I had so much more to offer, starting with my amazing pumpkin bread! Surely there was a way I could change their minds about me, but how? I thought hard. Capri jeans and an ironed t-shirt? Trade my SUV in for a minivan? There had to be a way.
But try as I might, I simply could not to crack the PTO code.
Hubs and I attended the big school fundraiser a few weeks ago and I have to admit I was a little mopey, watching all the PTO moms bustle around in their matching t-shirts. That could have been me, I thought morosely. That should have been me.
At the end of the event, one of the moms got on the PA system. “We’ve bought lunch for all of the parents who volunteered today,” she announced. “It’s not for the parents who just came and watched, though,” she said, looking around warily. “It’s only for the volunteers.”
“What about the parents who tried to volunteer?” I muttered. Hubs laughed.
Perhaps they’re hoping that if they can stall long enough, I’ll eventually give up and go quietly off into the car rider pick-up line. Well, I’ve got news for them. That ain’t gonna happen. I joined the PTO, dammit, and I’m gonna get my five dollars worth if it kills me. Besides, I’ve got a secret weapon …
That’s right. They want ‘em. I’ve got ‘em. Loads and loads of box tops.
You want my box tops, girls? You’re going to have to give me one thing in return. I need a PTO meeting date and I. Need. It. Now.
Once that happens, I’ll be more than happy to hand over the goods. Look for me in the cafetorium. I’ll be the one in the sweater set.
Originally published on SuburbanTurmoil