What’s that sound I hear? Is it the jubilation of thousands of local parents as another school year gets close to biting the dust? Forget about the kids and their unfettered freedom. I’m all about the sweet release from the parenting competition season that runs from mid-August to the end of May.
OK, who am I kidding? I know the parenting competition season is year-round, but at least in the summer you’re less up and close personal with the participants, and trust me I need that break. It’s merciless out there. You’ve got everything from the high school parent who specializes in class rank news updates to the elementary school mom who has an Excel spreadsheet of her little cherub’s academic and extracurricular schedule and a corresponding pie chart of his world domination areas of expertise.
To celebrate the, sort of, end of the parenting competition season I’ve compiled a list of awards that acknowledge the very best in this year’s Parental Preening Hall of Fame.
All hail the One Upper Interruptus. This parent is like a heat-seeking missile. You could be across a parking lot and if someone asks you about your kid and you share just the briefest tidbit of accomplishment, like they made it to school on time, the One Upper Interruptus will pick it up on their radar and fly in for a direct hit that doesn’t waste time with any social niceties, but instead goes in for the kill. As in, “Well, my little mini me has not only perfect attendance, but also is curing cancer while playing three select sports and taking eight AP tests.”
My only response is to dig through my purse for eye drops so I can lubricate my corneas from all the eye rolling that ensued.
If your kid has ever put on a shirt with a number on it, then you’re well-acquainted with the Spork — sp(orts) + (f)ork. The Spork is a sports parent so over the top that they need to a) stick a fork in it (i.e. shut their pie hole) and/or b) give you a spork so you can repeatedly stab yourself in an effort to alleviate your misery from listening to them.
I feel like it would be a public service if every Spork got 60 seconds of group adulation at the beginning of the year and in exchange for all the parents repeating in unison, “I get it, we all get it, your child is God’s gift to 9-year-old soccer, volleyball, swim, baseball etc.,” we would then be blissfully left alone from talking to the Spork the rest of the sport’s season.
If there’s a reading log or a volunteer hour form to fill out, beware of the Truth-aphobic. This parent just can’t help from going a little rogue on the whole hours-accomplished detail. Maybe they’re remedial in their math skills and simple addition has always been a problem. Or perhaps they don’t grasp that most fundamental concept: one hour equals 60 minutes. Whatever the issue, all I know, based on two decades of parenting, is that the person that’s fibbing on the elementary school summer reading log is also going to be massaging the numbers on that high school National Honor Society volunteer sheet.
Dear Lord, hear my prayer and save me from the Listicle parent. This mom or dad lives to share their child’s “stats.” Be it everything from batting averages, touchdowns, goals to dance awards and, ugh, academic rankings, the Listicle has up-to-the-minute information on where their kid stands in the universe. I’m not exaggerating when I say a part of my soul died the day Blue Valley schools made it possible for parents to check their kid’s daily high school class rank online.
I know we’re a standardized test-driven society and who am I to call out venerable education institutions that use those tests to create moneymaking programs? The Duker parent (as in Duke Talent Search, not that there’s anything wrong with that and never mind that almost every kid I know has, at one time or another, during their late elementary and early middle school career gotten a letter from Duke about their “Talent Identification Program”) believes everything they get in the mail.
Here’s the deal. Not every four-color, glossy, college brochure and booklet your kid receives via the U.S. Postal Service signifies that he or she is a shoo-in for acceptance. In its most fundamental form, all it means is that your child is on the mailing list and that the colleges sending out all that stuff are responsible for 25 percent of the world’s deforestation.
Now, to all the parents that made it into the Preening Hall of Fame, all I have to say is congratulations and will you please stick a spork in it.