PTA events are always a bit of a struggle for me. I am not good at committees generally. I always get cross with the proceedings and/or the other attendees. This leads to one of two types of behavior to manifest itself. Either I get cross but can’t be bothered to contribute to the discussion which leaves me seething and swearing that I will “never go to another of those bloody meetings” or I am vocal and say something inappropriate resulting in raised eyebrows all round and general ostracizing in the playground.

However, I didn’t always feel this way or perhaps I did but managed to disguise my feelings more effectively. When my eldest child started school I duly turned up at the first PTA meeting all bright eyed and keen to help. I got there in plenty of time in case parking was an issue. It wasn’t. Including myself and the Headmaster, there were 7 of us there and I later learned that that was a good turn out. And so I spent the first three or four years of my children’s school career volunteering to help with things. It was fine. I kind of enjoyed it and it made me feel part of the school community.

And then the make up of the committee changed. The sensible, practical women who had been in charge to date resigned and were replaced by the type that you often find in positions of pseudo power. It was immediately apparent that I would no longer fit in. By this point I had a toddler and a baby as well as two in key stage 1. Then, a sensible member of staff made the very valid point that I had plenty of time to contribute to the PTA, given that I would have children in school for the next eleven years. I seized that escape route and ran down it so fast you couldn’t see me for dust. She was right. I had bags of time to re-involve myself with all matters schoolish at a later stage.

I have now reached that later stage but suspect my PTA days are in the past. I am now too jaded and realistic to enter into the spirit of things. However, from time to time I will volunteer for something just to show willing. I pick my events carefully. Don’t expect to see me at the Christmas fair or sewing costumes for the carnival parade. I will stand on the door of the school disco – too noisy to chat to other parents and lots of opportunity to see my kids interact with others without them noticing. Another one that I will volunteer for is the Easter party. It is only attended by foundation and year 1 children who are all still sweet and not gobby. Also, as i have a child in each of those years I know all the names. So this afternoon my younger children and I set off for a couple of hours of singing, craft activities and egg hunting at school.

Every year there is a competition run for the best decorated egg. I provide my children with a hard boiled egg and a variety of paints and craft supplies and let them get on with it. The results are mixed. One child did win one year but it is always pretty clear that mummy wasn’t involved in the design. I knew my afternoon was going to be a struggle when the first person I saw was a particularly irritating mother with an egg beautifully crafted into a very cute Easter bunny. Clearly all her own work. I know that I am supposed to make enthusiastic and appreciative comments about the talent of her son and that my life would be so much easier if I did exactly that. But I can’t. ” All his own work?” I said with just enough inflection in my voice to make it clear that I meant exactly the opposite. She spluttered something about her cutting out the pieces but her son sticking them on. I gave her a look that said ” Yeah right! ” and she moved off at speed to find someone who would ooh and ah as required. It’s no wonder they hate me!

Anyway, after this early stumble I managed to behave myself for a while. I made coffee with the mum with bipolar disorder that everyone else avoids and listened ad nauseum to people sharing stories about parents’ evening ( another occasion where my tongue got the better of me). I heard at least five mothers telling anyone who would listen how bright their son/daughter is and kept my counsel. It’s amazing how bright the children in Ilkley seem to be. Mensa watch out! I am sure there will be a block entry from All Saints’ school in the very near future. I think what is easily forgotten is that I have been through the school from bottom to top twice already. I know how it tends to pan out. What I need to learn now is to keep it to myself.

So that’s my PTA duties done for another year. The children had a thoroughly enjoyable time and that is, of course, the point. I can now retreat back into the edges of the playground and keep my head down and my mouth shut. Until boredom and my mischievous streak lure me back out again.