Mamacita says: I am very grouchy tonight.
I’m not sure why – yes, I do* – but I’m really flashbacking to one parent conference after another: conferences that took place eight and ten and more years ago, even. What the heck is up with me tonight?
I am so sick, sick, sick of selfish grown-ups.
“Mothers” reeking of cigarette smoke who swore they couldn’t afford pencils and socks for their children. “Fathers” smelling strongly of booze and/or weed who didn’t even know their children didn’t have a winter coat. Family after family on free lunch who miraculously had the cash for personal luxuries but couldn’t manage to buy simple necessities for their children.
I wanted to thumb their eyeballs out, every time.
Sometimes, these people smelled so strongly of their selfish indulgences that I couldn’t even stay in the small conference room with them for more than a minute or two. Some of those chain-smoking women had new babies: innocent little things whose lungs were already full of dirt, symbolic of their parents’ lives.
I remember these people’s faces and I remember their raspy voices. I remember their whiny excuses most of all. I did not believe a single one of these people when they swore they loved their kids but just couldn’t afford these simple things.
If they had money for booze and cigarettes, they had money for socks and pencils. Life is full of choices and these adults, of their own free will, chose themselves over their children. These adults chose their own personal, selfish indulgences over things their children NEEDED.
These “parents” were monsters.
There was a world of difference between that kind of people and decent people – the people who came to parent conferences because they truly cared. Actual caring parents who ate AFTER their children ate, and who would never in a million years have even thought of buying a single thing for themselves until their children had what they needed. THOSE are the real parents.
Parenting is hard, folks – those who do it right know this. Those who don’t bother to do it at all, people who continue to live as they lived when they were childless, indulging themselves in whatever they wanted when they want it, not even seeing that hungry dirty child with bare feet in ill-fitting shoes, and no coat at all, and certainly not caring even when they did see. . . .sometimes, these people stood up in angry incredulousness, that someone was challenging the way they were living their lives, questioning them about how their** money was being spent, insinuating that they were lousy specimens indeed. . . . .
They would stalk out, and we would sadly make yet another phone call.
Seriously? I’d love to have a nickel for every winter coat, pair of mittens, and pair of socks I’ve bought for other people’s kids over the past twenty or so years.
If you are one of those people who thinks public school teachers are overpaid, think again. The good ones – and that’s most of them, no matter what you might think – are pretty much supporting a lot of little kids who are not their own, because we can’t bear seeing them get off the bus all blue and shivering day after day. I mean, it’s not like their parents are going to do anything about it; they’re too busy taking care of themselves.
Yeah, it’s going to be a long night. I can’t get the memories out of my head.
Oh, and you really don’t want to get me started on “Uncle Daddy” and “Daddy’s new lady.” Because he ain’t Daddy and she ain’t no lady.
*Bitch in the elevator