Time for the dreaded school carnival

I hope it doesn’t make me a bad mom that there are some aspects of parenting that I wish I could skip. Like today — the school carnival.

I understand that lack of school funding causes resourceful parents’ groups to hold fundraisers throughout the school year to buy extra materials and equipment for campuses. But the constant assault on my wallet seems to start on the first day of school and continue until end-of-year celebrations.

And the carnival is more than just a fundraiser —  it can be an assault on my senses.

At times, I can tend toward claustrophobia. So big gatherings, especially ones full of loud children, aren’t at the top of my list. My only hope is that my daughter will go through her pre-purchased carnival tickets quickly and we can resume quieter, more sedate activities for the rest of the evening.

Other events that used to fill me with dread rather than anticipation were holiday programs and concerts and awards presentations.

Some of my oldest daughter’s choir concerts stretched to two hours and beyond. How is a family supposed to fit in time for homework, or even dinner?

One concert in particular stands out in my memory because the music director had most of the performing students sit on the cafeteria floor around the perimeter of the room (in their tuxedos and satin evening gowns) while an extended musical piece featured the voices of just a handful of students. That seems self-indulgent. Choose numbers that incorporate the most possible members of your groups.

I do appreciate, however, what my youngest daughter’s school has done in recent years.

Instead of trying to fit all kids and all parents into the multipurpose room at one time, now they do shorter presentations by grade. Not only is it more pleasant, not being crammed elbow to elbow into a room filled with uncomfortable flimsy plastic chairs, but they even offer opportunities for parents to come forward under these more civilized conditions and take pictures of their little precious ones. We can be in and out of there in a half an hour or less, and on our way back to work.

We all want to support our children in their efforts, and the schools in the activities that they present to enrich our children’s academic experience. But meet us halfway – do these events in ways that minimize discomfort for the maximum number of participants.

What about you? What are your least favorite parental expectations?


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