sexta-feira, setembro 16, 2016

The PTA meeting

One year ago, as I was beginning my journey into this new life and not by far feeling adjusted I went to my first PTA meeting. Every detail of it was new to me, even though, having been a teacher myself, I could not be more used to this sort of event. Principal outlines general issues, teachers go through the projects you will be fencing with your kid at home (yes, fencing, not facing... It's a duel...) and parents either cry of anxiety or float around not having a clue of what lies ahead. In Brazil, we don't have the strong PTA americans have, but I had my share of Hollywood movies to know how it worked. So, theoretically, I was ready.

Nothing prepares you, however, to feeling as an outsider. I was an outsider, but felling as one was bringing back memories of my first day of High School at a new school. I so remember placing my pencil case on a desk and a girl approaching me saying "Oh, no, you are not sitting next to Fritz, he is awful! He was my boyfriend last year, and you will haaaaate him! Sit here, next to me". Marina ended up being one of my best friends throughout those hard times, and Fritz ended up expelled for putting a home made bomb on the boy's lavatory. Upscale school, let me add...

This time around, I enter a full gym of parents, and no Marina comes to my rescue. I'm a grown up mom and I shrink my shoulders to pass unseen. The "Pledge of Allegiance" starts, and I feel like a catholic in a mosque. "How do I pray that? Can I say the Holy Father?". I wish they were singing the National Anthem, instead. At least I could move my lips to "the land of the free and the home of the brave", every human being knows that emotional ending. No... No anthem.

I try to look around and spot other outsiders as myself. Maybe we can softly smile at each other, or even a "peace out" sign, followed  by two light punches in the chest, just to say "I get you. You'r not alone." No... No peace out signs.... No punches in the chest... No smiles....

I left as soon as the teachers ended their presentations, with so much information on my mind I had a headache that night.

And then, life kept on going. School started. Kids made friends. I talked. (I talk too much.) And shit  life happened.

One year later, I find myself chatting with a friend at her new house deck, after Tae Kwon do class, refusing another glass of my favorite Almond Sparkling wine (yes, one year and you have favorites...) because "I have to go to Back to School Night!"

"Oh,  no you don't! You know everything they will say!!"

"Yes, I do..."
(yes.... I do know...)

"But I have to go anyways! Save the bottle for later!"

I get to my second PTA meeting thinking of how I had felt on the previous one. I smile... We've come a long way... And I get there late.

Darn it, they must already have said the "Pledge of Allegiance". Now that I know it, I missed it!

I sit down, not before saying hello to Dana, sitting right behind me, and spotting my dear friends, throwing a kiss to Kelley and telling Mark he looked sharp on a suit. Beside me, Marcelo, Tania's husband who didn't recognize me. Zak and Eve are there too, but I if I stop to say hello to everyone I see I will be interrupting the meeting, and I feel like Sofia Vergara too much to do that. Shannon is on the pulpit, talking about volunteers, and I volunteered in the STEM program with her last year, I would hate myself to interrupt her.

Then, Os and Adela sit next to me. "Don't you want to sit next to your husband, I can move"
"Na, it's fine."

Adela and I find out we definitely could have never gone to school together. We talk nonstop. We laugh nonstop. We have stories to tell, and they cannot wait. Her apple watch rings with a SMS, from Os, next to me. "Stop talking you two!" We laugh even harder.
I whisper to her "If we were in school, we would be sitting in the back, chatting all through class, and Kelley would be shooshing us, because she has to take her notes." She would be laughing, though. Taking her notes, and laughing as hard as we would be...

I'm the last to leave the gym. I have to say Hi to Rajani, my former neighbor and dear friend. JJ is there too... Finally I can give Zak and Eve a hug, and Deb is there too... I run to catch up with Adela.

"Hey, psiu, couple, wait for me!!"

I'm the last to leave after the teacher's presentation. I'm laughing with Mrs. Jones, Iolanda's teacher who had Romeo last year. We are talking about my room mom duties.

"I already told the parents in the first session you are the room mom, and that you don't want to be called Mrs. Bettin, but Tatiana."

The school is almost empty and I am talking to Nicole at the loop. She was a room mom last year, and had some advice for me. "Don't sit next to Fritz, he is awful" "It's not so bad, use Pinterest for crafts and engaje the parents to volunteer."

Outsider is a word I have to redifine every day. I'll always be one here, but bonding shows us we are all outsiders, one way or another. And we all fit in, one way or another.

Friendship makes it all better.

My head doesn't hurt today, I sleep well and light, anxious for the my kids' new school year, and another one in this journey of our lives...

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