Thursday, March 4, 2010

fine dining with 5th graders

Being a stay at home parent I try to volunteer in Joey's classroom as much as possible. I have had to work in the past and was never able to be a part of his weekly activities or be "in the know" with the students and teachers. I have had quite a few fun experiences while helping with lessons in the class or tagging along for different functions the school was holding. I always seem to run into the same problem though.

I am young, yes, but I know that I am not the only young mom out there. It's as though the minute I walk in to a function with a smile on my face I can feel the glares and see the snickering between one another. I'm always friendly and polite when first arriving. Today, I had that same experience that I've become all too familiar with.

I wasn't sure what exactly I had volunteered for but I knew that whatever it was, I was going to try my best to "fit in" and possibly meet some other moms. All the while, spending time with my son during his lunch break. The teacher had emailed me yesterday with what time to show up and advised that when I got there to go straight to the cafeteria and the class would meet me there.  I got dressed up in a nice skirt and cute fitted tee (since Joey told me I had to "dress up") and headed to the school. As I was walking down the hallway with a smile I was starting to feel like I was late or that I didn't fit in. Everyone knew each other and were huddled in little groups, they were all wearing matching chef's hats and had clearly known each other for a while.  There was an older man and a woman standing at the entrance to the cafeteria who I approached and told them why I was there and asked them what I could be doing to help. They told me to just go inside and wait for the class to arrive.  Inside I was surrounded by once again several moms who clearly knew each other and as I walked by with a smile, they just kind of gave me that "look". I don't know what to call that look, but it's the one of "as soon as she walks by we are going to say something about her behind her back".

I found Joey's class table and decided I would wait there. Hopefully staying out of everyone's way and asking if I could help if someone made them self approachable. I had set my purse down close by on a step, I saw other purses so I figured that is where everyone else was putting their purse. I put mine out of the way, not next to anyone else's. It wasn't but a minute later and a group of mom's walked by and sat down on the steps knocking over my purse and not even attempting to pick it up. They just sat there around my purse as if it didn't even exist. I thought to myself for a moment  and just politely walked over, picked up my purse and set it down a few feet from them. Of course I did this all with a smile and the thoughts of "oh I'm sorry, am I in your way?" in my head.

Decided not to let that wipe the smile off of my face and walked back to the table. I was standing about a foot away from it in a 5 ft wide walk way. Not moving. Just standing still. WHAM! This lady bumps into me from behind and knocks me forward a bit, I turned my head (with a smile yes) and she just looked at me like "get out of the way" and kept walking. Really? Am I that invisible?

I could not wait until the class came in. At least then I'd have Joey's teacher to chat with and talk to and I already know the kids like me. The tables were all decorated as if it was a fancy restaurant and the man that I first spoke to was the host that was seating them all. Luckily I got to sit at Joey's table, right next to him. I wasn't sure that he was thrilled about it but I was. I had no idea that I was going to be served lunch and wasn't able to participate really, because of my calorie counting. Eating 2 chicken nuggets, mashed potatoes and a brownie washed down with chocolate milk wasn't exactly on my daily menu.

It was really interesting to sit and watch a table full of 10 fifth graders communicate with one another. It completely got my mind off of the other moms and I realized why I was there in the first place. It wasn't for me to make new friends or try to fit in with the other parents, it was for me to help out with Joey's class and be a part of his day. I did get to visit with his teacher some more and can't wait until we can actually "be friends" and hang out when the school year is over.  The conversations between the girls and the boys were priceless and it brought back so many memories of being that age.

I've decided from here on out when I volunteer for something I'm not going to let the looks and snickering of the other moms get to me.  I'm there for Joey. Not for me.  If the other moms don't want to be friendly to me, then it's their loss, not mine.


Stacie said...

Thats really unfortunate that the other mom's treat you that way. Makes no sense to me either! Their actions towards you were really rude. I hate being in situations like that. Good for you though for remembering why you were there (for Joey and his classmates) I just wish the other parents would act like adults and not treat you the way they do. Boggles my mind. But you are right, they are missing out! You are an amazing person with tons of knowledge about different things and give great advice, so its their loss, not yours ;-)

Stacie said...

ps, how do i change my "picture" that gets posted when I post a comment?

April said...

Keep holding your head up honey and never wipe that smile off of your face. The only reason people talk or look is because they are jealous. And when it comes to you they should be jealous. You have a good heart, you are a great person, the best friend they will never have, and a wonderful mom!
I went on a FT with the 2nd graders and all of the moms seemed to know each other, so I felt left out, I tried talking to a few, but they said two words to me and then turned back to talking to each other. I hated it, but then instead I focused on my reason I was there. I stopped talking to the other moms, or trying to talk to them and watched my son and his friends talk to each other and watched them learned and explore. I would love to "fit in" with the other moms at school, just to feel "normal". But luckily for me and for you, our real friends are better than those people at the school.

Rene said...

Holding my head high April!!! I love hearing that I am not the only mom who goes through this. Makes me smile and approach it with a whole new attitude! Love you!