Over the summer, my friend with a 5-year old, about to enter the world of elementary kindergarten, proudly posted on Facebook: “Bam! 5 minute phone call and I am now a PTA board member.”I didn’t know whether to congratulate her or warn her to GET OUT NOW!
If you have a kindergartener or first grader, you should totally sign up for the PTA—they need your help and appreciate your time and effort. (If you’re the mom of older kids, hush up.) Being an active member of the PTA, you could have some serious influence and input into the life of your child’s school and education. You want to be on the board? Wonderful! Congratulations!!
The joy and bright-faced naivetéof the younger parents is fantastic. They help out around the school; they are room moms. They are so essential to the function of an elementary community. I was there. I went to board meetings, volunteered at every event. I was the first to show and the last to leave. It was exciting, and a great way to get to know the school, the teachers and the administration. Within a matter of weeks, my child was known. The teachers started looking at her differently, since she was my kid: the child of the fun, friendly, helpful PTA volunteer.
I’m not gonna lie, it’s kind of easy to exhaust yourself on volunteerism at an elementary school. There’s always something to do, some way to help. Ample parent involvement is part of what makes a great school a great school.
Now that my littles are in fourth and fifth grade, I sit back and watch the new parents busy at task. And it is glorious. I still pay my $7 PTA dues. I still show up for the big stuff. When it comes to hours and hours and board meetings and unjamming the Xerox machine for the ten-thousandth time, I have earned my keep already. I have established my street cred and moved up in the parent hierarchy. Leave that stuff for the young.
As for the parents who put in the full six years of service, from kindergarten to fifth grade? You’re a better person than I am. You are brave and tough and fantastic, and maybe a little bit crazy. My hat’s off to you.
Susana Fletcher is a mother of three, writer, and blogger at SorryForParenting.com. She has been a card-carrying member of the PTA for more than seven years.