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How to Survive These 5 Types of Parents at the School Open House

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.

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1. The Private Conferencer

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.

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5. The Snacker

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 class?"

Photograph by: Getty Images

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