Pledging PTA

I went to my very first PTA meeting of the year as a card-carrying member.  The meeting was held simultaneously with the annual book fair.  I picked up a few books for the kids and then purchased a book off of Will's teacher's Wish List.  I meandered to the PTA meeting and sat close to the front in the middle.  Since I volunteered to be a Room Parent I thought I was required to attend.

My most recent boss said I have an uncanny ability to find organizational disasters.  That ability is then aided by my inability to say "No" to volunteering and going into Executive Assistant mode where I go in and clean everything up.  I looked around the room and realized I was going to have to fight very, very hard to not volunteer to clean up this particular mess.

Everything I know about PTAs to this point has come courtesy of the song Harper Valley PTA.  With that said, I was expecting some straight-laced business meeting where marching to a different drummer was not going to be tolerated and where we worried about the moral standing of the community.  At the very least I expected some moms in mini skirts and go-go boots to call the board to the mat on certain things.  I hate to say this, but there were no go-go boots.

The primary players at this meeting were wearing shirts that matched and read "It's a PTA THANG, you wouldn't understand".  I don't like "thangs".  Not because I don't understand since I'm completely empathetic to causes I don't understand, but because I rather prefer "things" to "thangs".  I spent a few moments trying to understand what PTA THANG I wasn't going to understand but then I was interrupted by the spastic woman at the microphone yelling to the other board members in the cafeteria:  "I think some parents are escaping through the back door out of the library!  We need to cut them off there and make them come to the meeting!  If they won't come with you, tell them you need their money!"

Why, I thought, were other parents escaping through the back door?  Why, I wondered, was I here willingly and on time for this meeting?  Where, I mused, was the nearest exit for me to escape from?  No, I reasoned, I'll stay.  I have to take an interest in my child's education.

A major flaw I saw in this meeting was that the PTA had purchased sodas, popcorn, and sticky cinnabuns for the meeting which, then, they placed in the back of the room for parents to eat.  However, since this was the night of the family book fair a lot of smarter parents dumped their kids in the cafeteria with the free sugar snack and then they went, child free, to the library.  The kids after a few sodas and cinnabuns were wild.  And loud.  And when the parents were done and had escaped from the back of the library they called kids on those little kid cell phones to meet them outside thus preventing the parents from returning to the PTA meeting.

The meeting was called to order and we were told we would say the pledge of allegiance to the flags.  Plural.  Flags - with a "s".  I looked around the room trying to figure out what flags I needed to pledge to, but I only saw the U.S. flag and a state flag.  I felt a little better, like maybe they weren't going to have me pledge to a foreign entity.  We pledged to the Flag of the United States of America and then, to my complete shock and awe the room turned as a collective to the Texas State Flag.  And, they proceeded to loudly pledge to it.  Shock and Awe.  Followed by an urge to bust into laughter, nervous and uneasy laughter.

I like Texas.  I like it a lot.  I like that we can swim until November in pools.  I like that our small suburban town has a BBQ place that offers Homecoming specials.  I love that everyone talks to you in line at the grocery store.  I love that people always hold the door for you no matter how far back you are behind them.  I love a lot of things here.  But after thirteen years living in this state I had no idea they have a pledge for their state flag.  I guess, you know, I sort of figured if you pledged at the federal level that should cover it. 

Wrong.  You must also pledge at the state level.  If you don't you're going to be branded a communist, a socialist, a non-patriot, or worse.

I stood there, silent trying to convince myself that probably all states have a pledge.  The kids in front of me turned around.

"You're not pledging."  One kid said - loudly enough to make others look at me.

"Hm."  I smiled.

"You're not pledging to the Texas flag."  He said again. 

"I don't know this pledge.  I haven't lived in Texas very long."  Thirteen years is relative I suppose so it wasn't really a lie.

"You illegal?  Are you illegal?"  He annunciated in case English wasn't my first language.  I tried to fight the urge to whip out my Texas driver's license but then I wondered if it would be confiscated since I don't know the state pledge.  Lucky for me the meeting turned from the pledge to the budget that still isn't ironed out, but not to worry because we can keep ammending it.

Ok.  So I don't know what on earth is going on at that school where kids know the pledge to their state flag and identify anyone not pledging themselves to Texas as "illegals", but I have to tell you I'm filing that in with the PTA THANG I don't get. 

I sat there through the rest of the meeting wondering about a lot of things - budgets that would repeatedly be ammended throughout the year because we don't know about some stuff yet, who the renegade Room Mothers were from last year, how people demanded to be reimbursed monetarily for volunteering, and I learned the important thing when trying to get people to join the PTA is to tell them they can always give money instead of joining.  In fact, I'm supposed to tell everyone I know.  Send money, it's what everyone understands.