It's spring, and along with dyeing
eggs and buying hams there's one other ritual a lot of us are participating in:
The school open house. It's our chance to visit our kid's classroom, meet their
teachers and see their work. It's also our chance to come in contact with other
parents who we might not ever see the rest of the year—and some of them make
us want to keep it that way. Here are a few examples, and how you can survive
the evening with them.
If the teacher spoke at length with each parent individually they'd have to start rolling out cots and a breakfast buffet.
This parent sees open house as an
opportunity to have an in-depth private conference with their child's teacher. When you have 30 students in a class, if the teacher spoke at length
with each parent individually they'd have to start rolling out cots and a
breakfast buffet because we would be there all night. I've seen parents come
armed with folders of their child's work literally wanting to go over math
assignments from the last seven months of school. I recall one parent yelling
out in a loud voice, "Wait, we're allowed to have long private conferences
tonight?" which is probably more effective than my idea of rolling in a large bell to
clang once any one parent had reached the 10-minute mark.
2. The TMI-er
The TMI-er has no problem
divulging all sorts of information to a classroom full of parents who are
probably just there to ooh and ahh over their kid's latest collage made out of
prime numbers. At my daughters' middle school open house, one parent raised
their hand and said, "So, back in November my daughter had mono and missed a
lot of school and now she's failing math and I just changed jobs and don't have
a lot of time to help her." It was way too much information about her kid than any of
us had the right to know. Take the opportunity to raise your hand and ask about
the value of pi before she launches into her daughter's current crush, favorite
boy band and pant size.
3. The Comparer
Beware The Comparer who will sit
next to you during the teacher's presentation, just waiting to let you know just
how fantastically amazing their genius-level golden child is performing.
They'll do it subtly, like maybe by asking if your kid likes school, and before
you can finish they will rattle off a list of their kid's honors classes,
sports titles, extracurricular activities and diseases they've cured. The best
thing to do is smile politely, nod your head—and then pretend your chair is on
fire and change seats very quickly.
4. The Chatterer
It's hard to escape The Chatterer because they rarely respond to subtle cues.
This one is pretty
self-explanatory. While you might be there to check out your kid's classroom,
read their poetry on the wall or admire their latest artwork, The Chatterer
thinks it's their opportunity to discuss the poor turnout at the school bake
sale, or go into length about an encounter they had at Starbucks earlier that
day. I'm all for friendly conversation as the evening rolls out, but I once had
a mom—whose son was in the same classes as my kid—talk nonstop as we went
from class to class. It's hard to escape The Chatterer because they rarely
respond to subtle cues, so you might have to pretend you have a highly
communicable illness to keep them away from you.
After several hours of walking the
halls of your kid's school you tend to build up an appetite, so it's
understandable you might want to bring a snack to tide you over during passing
period. But if that snack is a two-pound bag of trail mix that crackles loudly
every time you reach in to take out a fist of healthy nuggets and makes it hard
to hear the teacher talking about class procedure, or a hummus wrap that makes
the entire science lab smell like garlic (true stories), you might want to re-think your
choice. There's nothing you can do about The Snacker except to ask them, in
your best teacher voice, "Are you going to share that with the rest of the