Thursday, September 15, 2005

The First PTA Night of the Year!

Yeah, it’s the kind of night we all love and cherish. I had been home sick for the third day, but was clearly on the mend. I changed into BLACK pants and a green hippie shirt. I wore my Impervious Bitch black glasses with tortoise shell accents (Gawker said, “Go see Elvis Costello in concert, what better way to pay tribute to the guy whose glasses you’re probably wearing”—so true!) and made the ominous trek to the fortress for my third annual evening of feeling self-conscious, out of the loop and stared at. Fabulousness!

The principal looks at me with pity, like I am a retarded sheep—who is this mommy? Does she have a child here? Why is she wearing Elvis Costello’s glasses?

Here’s the kicker, the head of the PTA, a Brit guy who sounds AUSTRALIAN but says he’s "English," kept telling people that there was beer and wine in the back and to help themselves. I was stunned. And of course secretly thrilled. HOWEVER, if there is one place in the world I do NOT want to tie one on (and believe me, there is only one place), it’s at the PTA opening night kick-off. You know? It’s like a good beer spoiled, to rework our good friend Mark Twain.

But you gotta hand it to the Catholics, they are realistic about when some booze might be a good incentive technique and they know that when something is as BORING and ritualistic as PTA opening night, you better serve some mind altering potables. Hooray for the Irish and the Italians!

There was a ballet done by two of the traffic patrols and then there was a LENGTHY two person play about what constitutes a “sloppy” student and a “neat” student. It was funny and cute but went on about fifteen minutes longer than it should have.

And kids, you want to talk about INVOLVEMENT? Because I do. And of course, as with every single solitary thing in life, it is drizzled with irony. Nick attended kindergarten at our neighborhood public school and we were awash in liberal perfectionism in that our childe was partaking of the governmente wroughte educatione systeme, and it was goode.

However, the day I had my conference with Nick’s kindergarten teacher (named Amber) there was a “special needs” child screaming like
Mrs. Rochester in the attic across the hall. If you think I am exaggerating, you’re wrong. The teachers were spending lots of time on “discipline” issues and, as is often the case, the well behaved children (named Nick) were getting ignored. But we were so into it and so was Nick.

MZA showed up for Parent Clean Up Day and there was only one (1) other parent there. The principal wasn’t even there. We were getting a little disheartened, and then we found out there was an opening at our Catholic school, so we went for it.

We wanted more parental involvement and BOY DID WE GET IT. You have never seen such an involved parent body. EVER. I signed up last night for the Wine Tasting committee (stop laughing), the Cake Walk committee, the Holiday Vendor committee, the Book Festival committee, and I don’t know what the hell else. Oh yeah, I signed up for manning the “Snack Shack” during football games. Nick doesn’t play football; I did it out of personal fabulousness.

As for activities, Nick has soccer practice Monday night and twice back to back on Thursday nights and games every Saturday. He has karate at the YMCA Saturday mornings and just signed up for Cub Scouts, which meets every other Sunday. Just when I thought I was avoiding the stereotype of the overbooked child. Good luck trying to avoid that. Inclusiveness is all part o’ the package. Exclusive inclusiveness.

Um. But I like it.

I went to church last Sunday, avoiding laser trained lightening bolts, and it was this gorgeous day and the church was packed. Nick was wearing a long sleeved white pique shirt with plaid shorts and I wore a paisley aqua skirt. We sat together in a pew and the sun was streaming in through the stained glass windows. It is a pretty church with an elaborate nave and lots of gilt and symbolism.

The priest called all the children to the front of the church and a little blond boy in his Cub Scout uniform hugged his sister as he walked down the aisle. Then Nick scooted past me. I didn’t know what was happening exactly because I AM DEAF and didn’t know why the priest was motioning for the children. It was for the children’s liturgy portion of the Mass, that I would know about if I ever went to church.

I sat there in the pew alone, my sole frame of reference for sitting in church is my father, so actually it is kind of a pleasant thing. It was the one thing we shared exclusively, I was the last of his potential acolytes, he had failed to sway my brother and sister, and so I was his final hope for a full Catholic immersion.

He was devout in a way people are not devout anymore—he went to church every single solitary day AND didn’t talk about it. It was his own deep mystery, the respect and the inner culling of the divine, and the adherence to the rituals and the demands. He met them all with constancy and dignity.

And so I figure I will always be a Catholic, in whatever crappy form, because it is a part of me, by default and by blood, in a sense. And I don’t mind that my son, my father’s third grandson (that he never met), is observing the traditions and the rituals and the mysteries and determining for himself if he will follow them.


Cynicism is another word for reality

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