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The dreaded parents’ meeting

Along with the onset of fall comes the beginning of every other activity, extracurricular, sports, church, etc. And any organized activity involving kids has to have a kick-off meeting for the parents.

Yes, I get that parents need to be informed about whatever is going on with their kid’s team, church group, sex education class, or troop. But now having attended about 100 various parent meetings for our three over the past decade or so, I have meeting fatigue.

These events are always scheduled for an hour even though the content can be covered in 5 minutes, or could just as easily have been summarized in an e-mail or memo. The agenda always includes handing out the team or activity schedule and an overwhelming amount of papers that one never knows what to do with: a sign-up sheet for snacks, passed around while an endless dissertation on the type and quantity of snacks allowed is given; and a plea for how the parent will donate money, time, other items, or their first born to this particular activity; veiled threats given if one’s child should miss any practices, rehearsals, classes, etc.

Then there are the parents. Each meeting includes at least one of each of these types:

-- The Eager Beaver  -– usually a newbie. Can’t wait for his/her kid to jump in the pool,  be on the stage, prepare for their First Communion. Bursts with enthusiasm and over-engineers the simplest of tasks, such as creating pivot tables and complex macros in Excel spreadsheets for the team schedule or the First Communion seating chart.

--  The Searcher for Significance -– usually a parent who takes on an activity as a cause celebre or as an outlet to demonstrate his/her mastery of skills that go otherwise unused in daily life. Dedicates a disproportionate  amount of time to said activity as a way of living vicariously through child.

--  The Clarity Seeker -– never quite gets enough information, always needs a clarification, an additional explanation, an exception for why his/her kid can’t do what is supposed to be done.

--  The Non-Compliant Cynic -– sits in the back, writes out a check as a substitute for more substantial donations of time, signs up for the least labor-intensive job required. Buys prepared snacks; doesn’t make cute mice or snowmen out of pretzels, marshmallows, and licorice lace. This would be me.

Yes, I do enjoy watching a kids’ sports event, school play, religious ritual as much as the next parent, and recognize the effort involved in organizing these activities and try to contribute in my own way. It’s just the extracurriculars-as-lifestyle parent trap that I can’t quite buy into.


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