Home Room Horror

My current facebook status is this: Just walked out of the first home room parents meeting – KILL ME NOW.

Career wise I didn’t really get my act together until my mid to late twenties, which is why I have such a tragic varied resume. In the early years I answered switchboards, packed oranges, voiced radio commercials, sold advertising space and poured beers at the local football club.  All of these things I did very badly. Cringe worthy in some cases. I finally found my groove in the world of Human Resources and as much as I loved it, I found myself in some challenging situations. Telling people they no longer had a job or even worse having to talk about body odor.

Why am I telling you this?  I guess I’m just trying to show that no amount of experience will set anyone up for the role of Home Room Parent. Home Room Parent is hard core.

I’m not sure if Home Room Parents  existed when I was a child? Remember when all class trips and parties (did we have parties?) were organized by the school. Which is why I’d really like to meet (and slowly torture) the person who is responsible for the concept of Home Room Parent.  I don’t know who they are but I’m guessing they may be the same person who invented “party bags” and cupcakes for the class on your child’s birthday.

My first experience as a home room parent was in Canada.  This was my first child, my first experience at school, in hindsight I was fresh meat. I was wide eyed and eager to suck up please the teacher. “It doesn’t involve much, just some money collection and volunteer co-ordination”. What she didn’t tell me was celebrations were a bi-weekly event and of a similar scale to the Beijing Olympics.  I was about to find myself begging strangers for cash, vegetable trays, canned food and clothes for the needy. Maybe even a kidney if you had a spare one?

After collating the email list and dealing with the politics of privacy issues, divorced parents and non english speaking nannies I realized we were going to have some “issues”. After the second class event and the first field trip it became evident that the same 2 people were going to volunteer every time, me and the other sucker. The chip on my shoulder began to develop, I started to get a crazed look in my eye at school drop off as I rummaged through backpacks for cash that was “promised” the week/month and finally year before. If I had to cut up one more carrot stick or attend one more mind numbingly boring bus ride, things were going to get ugly. When I found myself in the snow chasing the Prada wearing, Gucci bag carrying mother in her black Audi begging for $15 for the teachers present……. I realized I had reached my lowest point.

The other 18 parents started to hide from me at every opportunity.  I was like a bad teenage relationship, I was needy and awkward. I constantly asked for money or help and when they tried to break up with me I played the guilt card. It was a long year but when it was over I declared it was never to be done again.

Six years later, I find myself at the first meeting of the home room parents. How did I get here? They got me at a week point and I was stung by a professional.

All around me are women of different shapes, colours and cultures. I can hear women speaking French, Spanish, Arabic and English.  My French is almost non existent and I don’t speak Spanish but I’m pretty sure we’re all saying the same thing , “how did I get sucked in to this” and “is it too late to do a runner”? I note that even though we are a room of “parents” there is not one bloke in the room.

We are all handed folders with email templates, class lists and given advice on how to collect money, healthy snack options for parties and appropriate facilitation of siblings on class visits. The blood is draining from my face. As I stare out the window a friend bounces past and stops dead in her tracks. I watch the moment that she realizes I am in the home room parent meeting and see her start to laugh in a sadistic and uncontrollable manner. I make a cross eyed face, gesture putting a gun to my head and pulling the trigger. KILL ME NOW.

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