This morning I cleaned out my purse. I do not remember the last time that I cleaned out my purse, but among the lollipop wrappers, receipts, and random crumbs, I found some notes that I had made at a PTA meeting. Theses weren't notes about the meeting, but they were notes about the people (mostly women) at the meeting.
When I was in Texas, my first experience with the PTA was anything but positive. The PTA there was made up of manipulative, power hungry women who believed that their elected positions somehow made them better than everyone else (FYI -- they weren't). The main reason that those women were in their oh-so-powerful positions to decide things like what kind of cookie dough third graders would sell was because everyone else at that school was apathetic. The PTA had devolved into a small circle of women who paraded around thinking that they were better than every one else while the rest of us rolled our eyes and let them have it. Understanding my mindset about the PTA is important because it is with these attitudes that I went to the first PTA meeting at my kids' new school.
These notes I found were from the very first PTA meeting I ever attended at the new school. I was beyond cynical about the prospects at the new school PTA meeting and it was with this jaded attitude that I made these notes. I would like to point out ahead of time that this post is in no way indicative of the women at my kids' PTA now that I've gotten to know them. I say this because this is the kind of post that normally garners a visceral response from at least one reader who thinks that they are my moral compass. I know this is a snarky post that makes me seem like a first class snot (to avoid using a more colorful word), so you do not need to email me to let me know that I am "wrong" to be so judgemental. The PTA at my kids school is awesome and I am proud to be a part of it -- I am in these stereotypes too. They accomplish so much and it takes all of these people to do it.
Okay -- back story and disclaimer handled.
As I sat in the lunchroom for the PTA meeting as my nostrils were assaulted by the stale odor of fish sticks and bleach, I looked around at the women of this new PTA and I sized them all up. I admit that it was judgemental and petty, but as they were going on and on about the 'minutes' from the last meeting of the previous school year and the budget (which was easily 4 times more than at our previous school), it kept me entertained. It also occurred to me that after reading numerous other mommy blogs about their respective PTA's that these gross generalizations are prevalent everywhere across America.
So I present the 10 most common types of PTA members:
This is the woman who takes every cause on with religious fervor. She assures everyone that "we can do this" because "we have the absolute bestest teachers, parents, and students of any school out there." Her optimism and excitement makes it possible to envision her with pom-poms in each hand and a quarterback on her arm. She may not understand the mechanics of what needs to be done, but she can cheer you on to victory as you do all the heavy lifting. Her veneered permagrin is perfectly white and can blind you if you stare directly into it.
This woman has a clipboard surgically attached to her arm and can quote rule 15, article six of the PTA handbook verbatim without thinking. She is quick to point out every violation in your classroom door decoration plan and has a stopwatch for making sure that the kids get enough free time at planned PTA sponsored events. She can suck the fun right out of a room party by declaring that your planned party game is not on the school approved list of "fun things kids are allowed to do." She and the Cheerleader are opposing forces and can cancel each other out if put on the same committee.
The PTA Barbie:
Usually a blonde size 2 in designer jeans, she really has no idea (nor does she care) what is going on. She is here to show off her new Uggs and Coach purse and most likely will spend the entire meeting applying lip gloss. She can't volunteer to help with anything because she has Pilate's and yoga class that take up most of her time.
The True Believer:
This is the mom that does a lot of work for the school with very little or no recognition. She knows all of the teachers' names, where their classes are, and is the go-to-gal for....well, everything. She is on every committee, takes pictures for the yearbook, organizes fundraisers, and makes copies (double sided and collated) for teachers that her kids have never even had.
This is the mom who thinks that everything can be solved with her checkbook and her available balance. She doesn't understand why we, as parents, can't just all write a $200 check and avoid all of this time and energy spent fundraising.
The Eye Roller:
This mom thinks all of this is stupid and unnecessary. She is here because in her mind good moms join the PTA. She is much more important than everyone else here since she is a doctor/lawyer/VP/etc. She can't believe they are spending all of this time debating streamer colors and party themes. She is looking up from her phone just long enough to roll her eyes at whatever mundane topic involving her kids is being discussed now.
Little Miss Connected:
This mom is the first one to raise her hand when anything is brought up about needing someone with connections to ANYTHING. She loves to name drop and is certain to include how she knows everyone -- how they were in the same sorority, how their kids were on the same championship team, or how their husband's serve on the same board of directors, etc.
The Martha Stewart/Pinterest Mom:
God help you if you are on a committee with this woman. She will have you at Michael's measuring the width of craft sticks and running to Hobby Lobby for metallic pom-poms to make "the cutest thing ever" that she pinned to her "Ideas For Kid's School Parties" board. She can tell the difference between lime green and chartreuse at 50 paces and if you get the wrong one she'll send you back to the store to exchange it. She'll have you at her house sharpening pool noodles into pencils to hang from the ceiling as you keep from complaining by popping her amazing petifores that she made from scratch like they were Tic-Tacs.
This mom has no idea what they are talking about. She brought her 4 kids to the meeting and has been trying to keep them wrangled to her general area while stopping them from arguing or licking the table or whatever whole time they've been talking. She sincerely wants to help with whatever the current event is and hopes that there is a handout so that she can email those in charge after her kids go to bed tonight and find out what is going on. She will eventually get the info and do her part, but she could have skipped the meeting. (This is probably MY stereotype, but when I wrote these notes, there was a woman with 5 kids who I was watching. With great sympathy.)
The Out Of Place Dad:
This poor man wants to be involved and is probably a single father since he's here without a wife and his daughter is quietly doing her homework beside him. He sticks out like a sore thumb among all of these other women and he doesn't understand all of the female hierarchy in the room. He looks around a little confused -- like he knows there is something going on that he doesn't get, but he has no idea what it is or if it involves him.
As stereotypical as these classifications are, we need all of them. (Except maybe PTA Barbie...) The well oiled mechanism that is my kid's PTA requires that each person, regardless of which stereotype they most fit, do their part. The PTA president, who is not characterized here, has to deal with all of these different personalities and make things happen. We shall call her "The Miracle Worker."