Ruffled Feathers and Spilled Milk

Farming with ducks and dairy goats, chickens and children.


Posted on | February 1, 2015 | 5 Comments

So I was at the local elementary school for Middle’s basketball practice.  When I went to the use the bathroom I discovered that kids are still writing on the bathroom stall doors.  Take that, social media!  The pen is still mightier than the smartphone.

But even more enjoyable than the triumph of old school graffiti over cyber-insults was the content of the comment:

“Ms. J—– is stuped!”

I laughed out loud.  Ms. J—– was probably making some poor kid double up on her spelling words.  Obviously, for good reason.

Although I did consider some kid testing out her skills of ironic humor.  Kids are more sophisticated nowadays.  Don’t think “Ms. J—– is stuped” qualifies as irony?  Well, The Oatmeal thinks it does, so there.

But the following week I was back at the elementary school for another occasion.  And I realized those words might have been written for an entirely different reason.

Little was getting his Terrific Kid award in the school cafeteria.  So I joined the leagues of parents on the itty bitty 2 feet high cafeteria stools for the ceremony.  I brought a book to kill time before the ceremony but I did not read it while the 8,000 other kids were receiving their awards.  Because you can only get away with that when the awards are given in the gym and the head of the person seated on the bleachers in front of you hides that fact that you’re reading.  Besides I had something else to occupy my thoughts as I sat there.

A young woman in faded jeans and a t-shirt walked up to the podium.

“OK, we’re going to start with kindergarten,” she announced and began calling the names of students and reading statements from their teachers about why they were chosen for the award.

I was confused because I had never seen her before.

“Who’s that?” I whispered to Little.

“Oh,” he said.  “That’s the new counselor.”

Huh.  The entire school loved the last guidance counselor.  She was there when my older kids were in elementary school and remained there until she got married and moved away to be closer to her husband’s place of employment.  I liked her for a lot of reasons, but one of those reasons was that at award ceremonies she stood up, introduced herself to the parents, and reminded them that she was always available for assistance or concerns with their children.  If she wore jeans, I don’t remember it.  But that may have been because her jeans were overshadowed by her outgoing personality and professional demeanor.

Next to the new counselor was a young woman I recognized as the assistant principal.  She arrived last year and other than a phone call on one occasion, I had never had any interaction with her.  I only recognized her face because my children had pointed her out to me at other school events.  She was also wearing jeans, although her shirt was more like a top than a t-shirt.  She also failed to introduce herself or make any welcoming comments to the parents.  She actually didn’t say a single word to the audience throughout the entire presentation.

I shifted uncomfortably in my seat and tried to gauge the other parent’s reactions.  Did anyone else notice this?  Did anyone care?  Did the other parents already know who these women were?

A woman from the Kiwanis Club was present to assist with giving out the awards, too.  She was wearing pants, a fitted jacket, a pair of great boots, and a cool scarf.  She stood at the podium, introduced herself, welcomed parents, congratulated students, explained how her organization sponsored the Terrific Kid awards among other community projects and invited everyone to the next Kiwanis Club meeting.  She was probably in her 50’s.

Nice job, Kiwanis Club, I thought.

Then I sighed.  Was I just getting old?  Was the younger generation too hip to to wear professional attire?  Was it just too geeky to introduce yourself in front of a room?  Was I just expected to know and recognize who the school administrators were and what roles they played in my kids’ education?

I knew that this Friday, like every Friday, was Spirit Day and the children and teachers often wore school t-shirts or school colors.  But does a t-shirt have to be worn with jeans?  Don’t they sell khakis or pleated dress pants anymore?   Perhaps, it was also casual day and teachers and staff were allowed or encouraged to wear jeans.  But administrators???  Besides, these women must have known they were going to be standing in front of a room full of parents on this particular Friday.  Was it unreasonable to expect them to pass on the jeans on awards day?

I knew educators’ salaries were limited.  But last time I checked a young woman on a tight budget still had a couple of fashion plans available.  Purchase a few expensive high quality articles of professional clothing that can mix and match.  Or buy what you need at WalMart or Target until you can afford something better.  Heck, to this very day, if I want a new church dress, I just hit Goodwill and walk away with 2 or 3 for under $15.

While we sat there and watched the children accept their awards, another young woman entered the cafeteria briefly.  She looked around, smiled, and left before the ceremony was over.  Little leaned over to me.

“That’s the new principal,” he whispered.

I shook my head sadly.  At least the woman was in a suit dress.  But she’d only been principal for 2 weeks—hardly anyone in that room could have known who she was.  Was she soooo busy that she couldn’t jump in at the end of the awards and say “Hi!”  And by “Hi!”  I mean, literally, “Hi!”  Because fully introducing herself would obviously be too freakish.

Little got his award and the kids went back to class.  I get it.  It’s my job as a parent to teach my kids the social skills they need to get through life.  When we’re off to an event or party where they’ll be meeting new adults we have to remind them to shake hands, look people in the eye, and say things like “Nice to meet you.”  We remind them to talk slow and loud when they are speaking to a group and go easy on the “um” and “like.”  We explain that when you’re standing in front of a room full of people, introduce yourself, greet the audience, and explain why you’re there.

Imagine if kids saw that happen in real life.  In school.  By the the adults that they like and respect and hope to emulate one day.

The teachers and administrators in my school district are mainly hardworking educators.  They spend a lot of time trying to convince state and local government to take their concerns seriously and compensate them like the professionals that they are.  Imagine if every time they stood in front of a group of parents, they looked like professionals.  And acted like professionals.

You’re not working at Google, people.  I even put on my sweatshirt without the dog hair to be there.  And kept my book closed once the talking started.  Which made me realize that our graffiti artist might have another reason for her complaint.

Maybe Ms. J—– wore jeans and a t-shirt to last quarter’s award ceremony.

“Here’s your award, kid.  You’re a Terrific Kid and I really mean it.  You can tell I mean it because I wore my favorite jeans from college.”




5 Responses to “Stuped.”

  1. Ali Turner
    February 2nd, 2015 @ 5:18 am

    🙂 you’re not alone in these observations……

  2. Lisa Dumain
    February 2nd, 2015 @ 7:15 am

    Yep. That’s usually when I accost the “person with authority”, extend my hand, introduce myself, and say “I don’t think I know who you are” or maybe something just slightly less offensive. Depends on my mood. See you at the next awards ceremony 🙂

  3. Tracy
    February 2nd, 2015 @ 8:18 am

    Amen, sister! You hit the nail on the head with this post. I couldn’t agree more!

  4. Jill
    February 2nd, 2015 @ 9:33 am

    Ok that must have been weird…. or I was put in charge of the dress code finally! 🙂 Why SO many new folks at HES?

  5. Laura
    February 3rd, 2015 @ 10:44 am


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