4 Ways to Prepare for Parent-Teacher Night (For Non-Parents)
As you may have noticed, I'm a man about town. I like to go out and experience all that life has to offer, but a sad reality is that I have pretty much experienced all the things I think I'd enjoy. That's why I went out and did them, barring a handful of experiences that involve more money than I have on hand or more Joanna Angel than I am anywhere near (don't Google her at work, y'all!). That means the things I have't experienced are generally things I have no interest in or that don't apply to me. But who wants to live life in a bubble of things that apply to them or interest them, aside from everyone? Not me. So in that spirit, I figured I'd engage in the age-old tradition of meeting my kids' teachers. I remember Meet the Teacher Night when I was a kid, and it was a curious mix of angst and apathy. Maybe it was different as a parent.
Not being a parent, I was stymied for a solid week about how I'd handle this, but then I got an idea. The rest is, y'know, the bulk of this article.
Becoming a Dad
The easiest part of parent teacher night for most parents is probably being a parent. You've likely had those kids sitting around messing up the joint for years, doing stuff that makes no sense to you and leaving the toilet seat up after pooping for some reason. When I was a kid I pooped in the tub once. Not while I was using the tub, just for a change. That's what we call a non sequitur.
Having no kids of my own, the easiest way to acquire some is online. Haha, no, I didn't buy some through a third-party intermediary who operates out of Marrakesh and can be found with a simple Google search of a small handful of relevant keywords you'd only know if you had perchance some history in trafficking in body parts in the past. That's absurd. I went to a school website.
Now, you real parents and people with a functional moral compass might find this part disturbing in some way, but, hey, maybe you never thought people like me went to school websites and looked up school newsletters to get the names and homeroom teachers of various students. Now that you know, aren't you creeped out? That stuff is right on the Internet. On the other hand, it's all over Facebook, too, often with home addresses and phone numbers. Good thing I'm not a monster! Ah, chuckle break.
Everytime I fart I prolapse! Har!
I opted to give myself a handful of children. Davis, Kyra, and Roop. Ah, little Roop. If anyone asked, he was adopted from a slave farm in Amish country. The Amish enslave East Indian babies, I hear. Or I just said that and now you can say you heard that somewhere. Let's Google it in a year and see if it caught on.
The most important thing to remember about your kids is their names. It is not the only important thing to remember (that's coming up soon), but it is the most important thing to remember. No one is less trustworthy than a man who looks like me at a public school trying to remember what he thinks his children are called.
Meet the Teacher
Now why would I bother to fabricate a family anyway? Because meet the teacher night has pizza and refreshments in the gym and what do single moms like more than single dads? Probably pizza and refreshments in the gym. This would be like a night at the bar for me only with less urinating in public afterwards, probably (spoiler: not really).
I felt I had earned this free pizza since really it was paid for with my tax dollars (or PTA fundraising, which is almost the same thing), and plus, as a resident of the neighborhood, I had to put up with these asshole kids all year long. They trick or treat at my house, they try to sell me cookies, they deliver fliers that never get put properly in my mailbox. They owed me.
Blimey sir, a whole six pence just for me! I shall buy me mum a delicious goose!
In order for Meet the Teacher Night to go well, you must be the ringmaster. There is no room for passive participation. People don't ask you questions, you ask them questions. You ask the other parents first who their kid is and in what grade so you can be sure your kid is in a different grade. You tell them little Roop is running around here somewhere and then laugh in that exasperated dad way. You tell that single mom she looks way too young to have a kid in grade 7, then you knowingly sip your gratis paper cup of Sprite.
My kids were in either grades 5, 6, or 7. I felt like I just needed to meet one teacher before the real parents of the real kid I was claiming ownership of showed up, and I'd have successfully pulled off good parenting for one evening while also potentially making the night terribly awkward for the actual parents of that child if they showed up later. If I had time, maybe I'd be Dad to all three kids, thus ensuring their true parents would be uncomfortable for days to come wondering why some stranger had already met with their teachers.
Who I am doesn't matter. I'm here to discuss your social studies grade.
Rest assured by this point I was well aware that what I was doing was weird, but only creepy for those who let their minds wander to a creepy place. For instance, right now, aren't some of you creeped out? I hope so. This was turning out to be much more fun that I had ever anticipated. The very idea that a stranger, who literally has had no contact with a child and has no intention to, could just be unsettling in such a way seemed like the kind of fodder for a fine black comedy. It made up for the shitty quality pizza my tax dollars had paid for.
The first teacher I spotted was the grade 5 teacher. Kyra's dad was ready to shine. Girding myself and letting the part of my brain that warns against stupidity fall into a fitful slumber, I approached a middle-aged woman who resembled SNL's Bobby Moynihan in a honey-colored wig. Mrs. Denton. She introduced herself, and I did the same.
"Kyra's dad?" she questioned, her expression registering nothing short of bewilderment. I had fucked something up, hadn't I? What could it have been? The possibility that these teachers knew the parents was already, of course, very real, I was just hoping to get through one bout of fraud before the whole thing fell down. I wasn't even getting anything out of this (aside from pizza), so really, the universe needed to cut me some slack.
"Oh my goodness, did you see that?" My own shocked expression met hers as I gestured to the far side of the gymnasium. Nothing gets you out of a conversation faster than feigned awe at an unseen yet obviously awe-inspiring event. Was it someone taking a spill? A goat fucking a midget? No idea, but we all better go see. I quickly made my way into the crowd like a weasel absconding with a chicken's egg under a fence. That was close, but not so close that I'd give up on my dream of being a good father to at least two children I'd never met.
I returned to schmoozing other parents, including warning some off of that old battle axe Mrs. Denton. What a piece of work she is. But you know the linoleum doesn't match the drapes, either.
My next piece of tax-borne pizza has the vague odor of sulfur about it, as though perhaps someone farted into the oven while it was cooking, or the pepperoni had been cured in someone's ass. I am second-guessing this entire stupid endeavor. At least at the orgy I got to experience the pulse-pounding thrill of dread. Here all I have is unhappiness and now a low-grade queasiness.
I decided to approach the rest of the night as life skill-building. If you can crash Parent Teacher Night, you can crash a wedding, a Bar Mitzvah, a porn shoot, anything. As the pizza dwindled and the gym cleared out, I headed out into the halls looking for Roop's classroom. Time she was a-wasting, and if Roop's real parents cared enough to show up then wouldn't I look like the racially confused idiot who may require a police escort out of the building?
The grade 7 classroom was still closed, but I did catch sight of a few parents milling about. It seemed risky. Time to head to Davis' classroom. I saw the teacher through the doorway at his desk, kind of sad and alone, a rail thin man with that look a person gets when they realize their life is never going to get any better than it already is. His hair looked like pubes, which was immediately fascinating to me.
Keep it short 'n' wiry, just like my ma.
"Hi, I'm John Welland." He held out his hand catching sight of me as I entered. I took two steps and realized the room was not empty. Three families were looking over class projects on the far side of the room, including Davis and a short man who looked far too much like Vin Diesel for it to be coincidence. Do people intentionally model themselves after Vin Diesel? Shaved head, tight knit v-neck white shirt, black jeans. And maybe 5-foot-3-inches. Spooky. But there were more pressing issues at hand. Who the fuck was I?
"I think I'm I the wrong classroom," I said with a laugh. Yes, that was reasonable.
"Oh, who are you looking for?"
"Mrs. Denton." That dirty old slattern. She would bear the brunt of my poorly planned night on the town. Johnny offered up the correct room number and returned to looking sad and alone despite being in a room with three families. I bet he touches himself while watching HBO.
What was I looking to accomplish tonight? Low grade fraud, free pizza, something funny to relate in prose form. What had I accomplished? Even lower grade fraud, shitty pizza and this. I didn't feel like a winner. I felt like Icarus. I had this majestic, yet ill-formed plan and the reality was more than my fantasy could have ever allowed for, instead sending me tumbling into a pile of suspicious Mrs. Dentons on wings of farty pepperoni.
I had an incline that I could try Roop's class one more time and then quickly dismissed it. No, Felix Clay was probably not going to pull off a Marlon Brando-esque performance this evening that would convince an English major who had no clue what to do with her life, thus she settled on teaching in a fit of desperation that I was the father of an Indian boy. Likely I'd only succeed in getting that police escort I'd mentioned earlier.
Mmm, it's strip search time.
With a heavy heart I made my way from the school and headed home. I had failed. At best I third-succeeded. In terms of desperate hunger I knew I could always get a meal from hence forth if I just showed up somewhere and spoke like I belonged there, but this was about more than being a cheap glutton or some kind of sociopathic snacker. This was about needless and bizarre deception, and on that count I was batting all zeroes. I was a ball player who didn't user performance-enhancing substances, thus letting down my team and, in a way, the world. And you. You, my fellows who came here to enjoy my hijinks and found that my jinks were as low as a turd in the grass.
So why write this article at all? Because embracing failure is what made me the man I am today. A willingness to watch success ride away with a hot girl while I sit alone in failure's tepid puddle of musky-smelling waste is the cornerstone of who I am. And of any good adventurer. You can't win all the time and while the sun shine's on a dog's ass some days, most days it's just a shitty dog's ass, and that's OK.
If I had a moral to impart here, a lesson if you will, it's a stronger one than I was able to share after attending that orgy, or eating those gross foods. Sometimes you have a shitty idea, and it just won't work. Sometimes you want to pretend to own a handful of strange children just for the purposes of making yourself laugh one night. And it won't work. But that's OK. Failure is OK. Because maybe tomorrow you'll put a sex ad on Craigslist to see how gross people are in their replies, and that will be your next article, and it will work. You know, if you write articles.