One of the things I started doing this year that I haven't done in the past is to become involved in the PTA. I signed up to be one of the Friday Treats Moms - kind of like a sugar pusher on the playground, really. A bunch of us set up folding tables at the playshed and sell junk - candy, cookies, pencils, popcorn, spirals, you name it - to all the kids, for a fat PTA profit. The first day, I was appalled. Look at all this sugar! Who thought this was a good idea ?? But that first week I had so much fun, talking to the other moms, talking to the kids, being a part of something new, I was absolutely ready to do it again. And the profit we made was amazing, really. I sort of felt like wearing a trenchcoat and a fedora, you know, hang out by the swings and lure the kids over.
At first, though, I was dreading it. You've got to admit, there's a certain stigma about PTA Moms. I was afraid that if I signed my name and wrote my membership check, I would slowly begin to morph into one of two things: the perky-peppy ex-cheerleader helicopter mom who is on the PTA because there's a level of control involved there that she can't get just hanging out in the house; or, I'd gain (yet another) 50 lbs and begin wearing applique sweatshirts with stretch pants while sewing curtains for the puppet show in the kindergarten classroom. Neither one of which was all that appealing, even though I'm no fashion maven to begin with and there's really nothing wrong with ex-cheerleaders. (I would proudly be one, if I had ever been cool enough to make the squad.) But when I got there, the Moms weren't like that at all. They're younger than I am, which I'm used to since Jack is my youngest. But they were friendly and welcoming, even though they all knew each other already.
We're about eight weeks into school now, and I look forward to my Fridays. It's only two hours out of my day and Jack likes it that I'm one of the Treats Moms. I like knowing what's going on at the school and who he hangs out with at recess; I like talking to the other parents about the goings-on that I've never paid any attention to. Today, when the bell rang, I hugged Jack and asked him if he was too cool to kiss his mom in front of his friends. He kind of turned his head, laughing, and said "yeah." So I grabbed him and planted kisses all over his face while the girls around him laughed and tried to help me hold him still. He was laughing at himself and at me, all the way off the playground. It made my day.
I was never involved in school like this when Matt was little. What if I had been? I wonder, if I had been more involved, would he have wandered so far? (Note: that does not translate into If I had been a better mom, maybe my kid wouldn't be so messed up.) I'm just curious; will this help Jack? Will he feel less inclined to push the envelope if he knows I'm right there, on the edge of the playground? And if so, how long do I do it? Right up through high school? There's a fine line, I think, between being involved and being invasive. I have no intention of chaperoning the senior prom, but I would at least like to know the last name of the girl he'll take, which is more than I know about Matt's Homecoming date.
I'm glad I did this. We do our job, but we spend a lot of time talking and laughing out there every Friday. We have a lot in common, just because we're all there. We share our stories and families freely, as if we're all in this together and there's nothing to hide. As if...hmmm.