||[Nov. 10th, 2017|03:18 pm]
In the 13 (!) years I've volunteered at this elementary school, I've worked with 4 people who, in my opinion, should not have been allowed around the children. One of them was an incompetent teacher who left the district of her own volition after 1 year of misspelling common words, misidentifying common polygons, and utterly failing to maintain order in the classroom; 1 was an incompetent, unpleasant, garbage person library aide, who was so awful that the principal had me doing extra, secret work to get her fired (but in the end they just eliminated her position); 1 was a mentally ill volunteer mom who stopped volunteering after I refused to sympathize with her constant complaints about volunteer work and finally said, "If you can't find a way to make this job joyful for you, maybe you should stop doing it," and was so overtly bonkers that when she tried to come back the next year, the librarian sought me out to ask my opinion of her and then declined her help after I gave it.|
And then there was Performance Mom.
Performance Mom lasted almost 2 1/2 years. This woman had some deep-seated class issues that she really should have addressed prior to volunteering in what is essentially an inner city school. She was completely incapable of understanding her own privilege (she actively denied having it) and couldn't see that she, as a person who had literally NOTHING else to do besides drive her daughter across town 5 days a week (open enrollment) and then hang around the school ALL DAY, and then take her kid to activities after school, and spend the entirety of every weekend driving her child to enrichment activities, should have perhaps a modicum of sympathy for children whose parents who lacked her material resources. She delighted in revoking kids' library privileges and didn't seem to understand that a $2.50 Scholastic edition was NOT worth teaching kids who probably didn't have books at home that they didn't deserve books at school either, that books weren't for kids like them. She literally said, "That's my tax dollars." Even though she didn't work. She was the self-appointed arbiter of behavior, policing the hallways and offering criticism whenever she identified an offense. Whatever she could do to make herself feel more important, more special, more worthy than the other moms, that's what she did. She talked about nothing but her daughter and all the very important things she did for the school, without which the school could not function. I never once heard her mention a friend, her husband, or any activity that didn't revolve around her kid, except to relate how intelligent she was and how she could do something else with her brains and her degree, if she wanted to.
She thought she was a real friend to children, but my observation was that the kids were all scared of her. I almost reported her a couple times, most notably when she didn't let a first grader have his library book because she didn't like how he was holding it. She literally took it out of his hand and said he couldn't have a book this week, even though he'd already checked it out. I didn't report her because I hate getting involved in small group dynamics, and the librarian, who also acknowledged that some of behavior was inappropriate, didn't report her either. She did a lot of his work for him, and he's kind of lazy, and frankly, I'm pretty sure he was afraid of her, too. He knew that she was regularly doing things she shouldn't be doing—he told me he knew she shouldn't be doing some of the things she was doing—and I told him it was his job to manage her, and he said he didn't want to start anything either. So I guess we were both equally guilty.
The other thing was that I knew she was already on the principal's radar and had been spoken to about how a person should behave when they volunteer in an elementary school. Sadly, she didn't get it. I only know because I related what, to me, was an amusing anecdote about watching some 2nd graders flying a junk paper airplane in the breezeway and then asking them where they were supposed to be and having them laugh and say, "Class," and then going there without any further action on my part. When I told her this story, she got very haughty and informed me that volunteers were not allowed to tell children to go to class, because she had gotten called to the principal's office and chastised for doing so. There's no doubt in my mind that she did so in a bitchy, rude, entitled way, because normally, nobody would report an adult to the principal for telling a kid to stop screwing around in the halls and go to class. In 13 years, I've never been called to the principal's office to get bitched out, although I have been called in because they were trying to offer me a job (and also, that one time the principal wanted to enlist my help in secretly getting that person fired).
A couple weeks ago, she came into the library and started telling me some story about making the class contact list and why wouldn't this one kid's parents just give her the information and she just needed the computer for a minute. Something about the story sounded wrong but I was doing actual work with the children and not really paying attention to her. Later, I mentioned it to my husband and he said, "That sounds like a FERPA violation." I almost reported her again, but it was right before break and I forgot about it. And then shortly after that, the librarian mentioned that Performance Mom had had a fight with the principal and would not be volunteering anymore.
I was overjoyed. By this time, we weren't working together anymore, but I had long felt that she shouldn't be allowed around the kids, so this was great news.
Wednesday I was leaving the school and she was standing across the street waving at me. In the past, I have TOTALLY hidden so I didn't have to talk (listen) to her, both in the school and at the grocery store, but I was out in the open and couldn't hide. Plus, she was right by my car, so when she flagged me down I went over to say hello.
She immediately launched into a story about how her daughter wanted to ride her bike to school next year, and she was therefore teaching her to cross the street properly in advance of this milestone, and that's why she was standing in the parking lot across the street instead of hanging out in the school harassing other people's kids like she used to do constantly.
"Isn't your daughter in 5th grade?" I asked. I knew her daughter was in 5th grade. I also knew that her daughter was classified as "gifted and talented." I was also pretty fucking sure that her gifted and talented, 10-year-old daughter knew how to cross the street and that she, Performance Mom, was actually so cowed and ashamed that she was refusing to set foot in the school (or else that the principal had strictly told her she wasn't allowed in). She mumbled some nonsense about needing to observe her daughter's ability to make eye contact with drivers. I tried to talk about my stepdaughter in response, but she immediately changed the subject.
"I guess [the librarian] told you why I'm not volunteering anymore?"
"Not really," I said, "Just that you and the principal had a disagreement."
She laughed. "That's one way to put it." Then she started rambling on about FERPA and how RIDICULOUS it was that federal law protected students' personal information. Then she started to reveal the REAL reason she had been poking around in the computer, not to compile a class contact list, but because another studently had purportedly scratched her daughter's trombone.
THIS BITCH VIOLATED A FEDERAL LAW OVER A SCRATCHED ELEMENTARY BAND INSTRUMENT AND SHE STILL THOUGHT SHE HAD DONE NOTHING WRONG! If you Google "privilege and entitlement," there should be a picture of Performance Mom whining about this trombone. I mean, she wouldn't have even gotten caught, but she found the phone number of a kid whose parents had deliberately NOT shared their phone number and then CALLED them. To, I guess, demand that they buy her a trombone? I'm not clear on what she thought was going to happen when she talked to the kid's parents, but what did happen was that they called the principal to complain about her casual violation of their child's privacy and rights. She's lucky they didn't press charges.
I didn't get the whole story because, thankfully, at that moment her daughter, who is a lovely little person despite her mother being a full-on nutjob, appeared. I should note that Performance Mom was so caught up in her outrage over being censured for violating federal law that she had actually turned her back to the street to best engage my attention, and had not even seen the kid come out of the building, let alone watched to make sure that she crossed the street appropriately. I changed the subject to address the child and her adorable hat, and then excused myself to go feed my friend's cats, because I a) did not need to hear another word of her story, b) was not going to fake sympathize with her, c) didn't need to tell her what I really thought of her, after 2 1/2 of carefully hiding that opinion, and d) figured that her daughter was probably pretty embarrassed over the entire situation and didn't need to rehash it in the parking lot after school.
Part of me would like to tell her what I think of her privilege and entitlement, but I figure the principal did a good enough job. Anyway, she's gone, hallelujah. I've long tried to look at people like her as the universe teaching me patience, but she was utterly the worst, and really, what I've actually learned, is that people like her get their comeuppance eventually.