So good and responsible, it hurts

A couple of weeks ago we got back from vacation and I went to report to Moomin’s school that I had forgotten to pick up the Independent Study packet. He only missed one, maybe 2 days of school. But I’d forgotten to call in and formally report that we’d be gone. The front office ladies rolled their eyes disdainfully at me. Then they said that they appreciated my being a Responsible Mom.

Well, last week it happened again. This time I reported beforehand! We were only going to miss one day of school! But then our flight was cancelled, and I had bronchitis and was lying around on the floor in various airports, and then the next day it was cancelled and delayed again and so we were two days late.

Scene in front office of school:

“So… our flight was delayed…”

“For TWO DAYS?” (Disbelief from both Office Ladies.)

“Yes… first it was delayed, then cancelled, then the next day it was delayed again so that we missed our connection…”

“Surely not for TWO days. I’m sure that… So what was the “reason” that so many flights were messed up?”

“Horrible thunderstorms, all over the Midwest.”

“Well. Good thing you let us know AFTERWARD. Why didn’t you call?”

“I was in airports… I was sick… it was all kind of horrible…”

“Thanks for letting us know now.”

“You’re welcome. Glad it’s possible to straighten it out.”

“You’re such a good, responsible mom!” (condescendingly, but not with sarcasm)

OMG, it was so nasty. It was clear that they said I was a responsible mom because they were trying to use a Technique to make me be more of one. Like praising your bratty kid for the one minute that they behave.

I feel sure that they don’t treat Rook this way when he deals with them. No, it is criticism reserved for women, to socialize them into behaving a certain way. If I’m not doing that job properly, they see it as their job to fix me. But if Rook’s not doing that job properly, it is also my failure, and it’s their job to tell me either to fix him or to do it myself. Blah.

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8 Responses to So good and responsible, it hurts

  1. Donna says:

    OMG! WTF?That's one reason I homeschool my dd. The school people would HATE me b/c I'd be in their faces so much about what THEY weren't doing – then I be taking my dh out all the time so we could travel – then they would be in MY face and it would get really ugly really fast. Sorry they are such butt-heads who think they know so much better than you.

  2. wired says:

    I was that kid. Not so much in elementary school, but I remember that all through high school I would have to appear before the schoolboard to justify my "excessive absences".I thought it was a really valuable lesson in dealing with irrational red-tape. I would explain why I was gone (state tournaments, national youth conventions, sports, volunteering), and why their rules needed to be changed.Still, my mom also had to deal with a school secretary like that, and it drove her nutso.

  3. Iris says:

    I found the most useful thing was to warn each new school that my child had a recurring illness .. crucial that it had no checkable outward symptoms. Migraine is good. Then whenever you wanted a short break they were 'ill' with no repercussions.Even a doctor's note was simple as the child was 'better' by the time I asked for it and the illness was so minor that it didn't need investigating.Of course this involves lying … but did save endless irritation.

  4. Iris says:

    Also – they have just brought in a rule here that you have to have written authority from the school before you can take a child on a plane during normal term time. If you don't have it your child will be turned back at the airport.Scary or what?

  5. Donna says:

    How would they enforce that? And why would the airline comply. Seems you could say you are homeschoolers and write your own note.

  6. Lisa says:

    I can't stand how we as mothers mostly – get this disrespect and loss of private life. I call it the "normalization" process and it creeps me out. Do allow yourself to stick up for yourself and tell them that it is not a matter of being responsible or not – that in fact you are a very responsible mom who doesn't appreciate their comments. Which is in fact true. It's like we are supposed to fit time cookie cutter stamp of what it it is to be a parent – and if we don't fit the mold – we are bad.Save it for the mom's that really don't take care of their kids – though they are more likely to never travel or let their kids stay home.

  7. Barak says:

    I don't know. I haven't had to deal with schools yet, Rocketina is only 3 weeks old, but the admins at pediatricians office look at me like I'm from Mars when I explain that they need MY daytime phone number and not her mom's because I will be the primary stay at home parent. I actually wonder how they would have dealt with it had Rook brought in Moomin with some lame sounding excuse.

  8. badgermama says:

    Barak, that's definitely a problem and I think Rook gets it all the time. The chicas in charge (dr. office staff, school people, etc) don't necessarily share info with him in the same way and don't have expectations of him being the responsible/caretaking parent, although he often is. The thing is, if he takes Moomin to the doctor or something like that, the next time I take Moomin to the doctor, the staff will comment on the anomaly as if there must have been unusual circumstances that made the dad take over…. Like when people refer to dads as "babysitting"… instead of parenting. Just introduce yourself as the mom, that will clear it up completely. 8-PWe missed you and Rocketina at Bad Ass Mamas coffee today! You missed some great discussions about group sex, labor and delivery, crystal meth, mailing list politics, books, blogs, and more. It got a little raucous.