While I love “back to school” time, I can’t stand Back to School Night. It’s not so bad at the high school, though I still do call it the Handbag Fashion Show. (When a nickname works, you go with it.) Because of the school’s block scheduling, a semester at a time, I have to attend two of these a year. But with 700+ students, it’s easy to get lost in the crowd while still running into a few parents of my kids’ friends or teammates as we wander by looking for the next classroom to visit.
I’m thinking in theater terms these days, since Little Brother has been rehearsing for a community-theater production of MAME, which opens on Friday. Now that they’re in dress rehearsals, I’ve been scrambling through his wardrobe assembling costumes. And that’s exactly what I was doing for myself yesterday afternoon.
I had to find myself a costume for Back to School Night. And then I had to get into character.
At the elementary school, though, Back to School Night is another matter.
There’s a reason I don’t do theater. I’m just not cut out for this sort of thing.
It really doesn’t matter what I wear to Back to School Night. It’s not going to make a difference. What’s important on that day is hearing what my child’s teachers have to say: their goals for the year, their expectations of the students, the ins and outs of the classroom routines and policies.
It really doesn’t matter that I will never be part of that group of squealing moms who just saw each other at the 3 PM car line, but who act like this is the first time in years they’ve reunited. Not only don’t I have the clothes (or the handbag) to fit in there, but I don’t squeal.
It really doesn’t matter. I keep telling myself that, but I’m not convinced.
I was grateful, when we all proceeded to the cafegymatorium for a slide show and PTA meeting, that a parent whose older children are friends of my older children sat near me; we had a few moments to chat and she kindly offered to give Middle Sister a ride home from soccer games if it was ever necessary. Then we both observed how very young the parents around us looked; we were both there with our youngest kids, and in both our families there’s a 10-year age gap between oldest and youngest.
Back to School Night humbles me. I guess that’s a good thing. I’m not a mover and a shaker in the PTA world; never was, never will be. Schmoozing and small talk don’t come easy to me, and we’re not even going to talk about my wardrobe.
Walking back to the theater across the street where dress rehearsal was in progress, I couldn’t wait to stop at my car, ditch my shoes and put on my comfortable sneakers. I grabbed my favorite “Grumpy” sweatshirt in case it was cold inside.
Costume shed, I stepped back into my familiar role as Mom.