“Omigod, Tom, that is SO funny!”
That was my introduction to Jenny, one of the moms in my son’s Early Childhood Family Education class. Because the kids are so young, the moms—I’ve never been in one of those classes with another dad—and I stay for the entire hour and a half. We play with the kids for the first half of class and then separate, going to a room across the hall where we drink coffee and, if it’s a good group, vent about our damn kids or, if it’s a bad group, give each other nurturing support and positive reinforcement. Oh, and there’s a Parent Educator who teaches us stuff we already know.
Back to Jenny and her voice, just the thought of which will now bring me close to tears. I am unhappy to report that Jenny turned out to be a part of a group of three; three moms who already knew each other well and who all talk and think like Jenny—I call them, “The Slut Cabal”.
Members of The Slut Cabal say things like, “Omigod, Tom, that is SO funny!” instead of laughing. And they hover over their kids; they are Helicopter Moms. Granted in ECFE classes parents are supposed to play with their kids. We’re supposed to get involved in all the activities and ask them over and over, “Did you put the red ball in the red square? Good job!” But only assholes actually do that. The rest of us are there for the break. We do all that shit at home, we don’t need to do it at school too. The one place I can take my kid and he’ll somewhat leave me alone and I’m supposed to talk to him like a Sesame Street character? Thanks, I’ll pass. But I’m not such a curmudgeon that I put someone in a slut cabal just for playing with her kid. Members of The Slut Cabal don’t just play with their kids--they go apeshit every time their kids do anything. Do you get me?
“Ooh, oh, good job, oh, oops. Good job!” This when her daughter took a cracker at snack time. It looked like the girl was going to grab this one but she grabbed that one instead. And her mom was so surprised! She even clapped when at last her daughter had chosen a cracker. I wish I were kidding. Can you imagine how happy mom was when her daughter successfully negotiated the 18 inch-high slide? You’re going to have to because telling you is more than I can bear.
As I wrote earlier, we parents separate from the class and go to a different room for Parent Education. We ease into this separation because it’s hard on most of the kids. Before we leave the first time we take the kids to our parent room and tell them that’s where we’ll be and that we’ll come right back. And the first couple times we separate we don’t stay away too long, gradually increasing the time to the current 45 minutes. A teacher and a teacher’s aide stay behind with the kids and the bona fide Parent Educator leaves with us. For this to work, we are told, we must all leave together. We’ll go and hug our kids and tell them we’re leaving and then turn and go. Some of the kids will cry but they are in good hands. No decent parent wants to hear his/her kid cry but sometimes you just have to let your kid work things out on his/her own. And besides you owe it to all the other parents to leave with them. If one parent stays (Say, for example, a member of The Slut Cabal), or goes running back to her crying kid, all the kids get confused. And those whose parents left get (rightfully) pissed. Now, because one mom couldn’t leave her kid, all the kids are freaking out and the teachers are in the middle of a low-grade hurricane. Before this year, I’ve never seen a mom who went running back. Then again, this is my first year with The Slut Cabal.
If you know me at all, you know what I think of the Parent Education segment of ECFE. It’s basically a meeting. And as you know I’ve never once been to a meeting that needed to be held. But the Parent Educator puts on a good show; she has handouts, and topics for discussion. She teaches us about moods and discipline and all sorts of happy horseshit. And guess who giggles and talks amongst themselves much of the time? The Slut Cabal! Holy hell is that one of my pet peeves! I don’t care if the class is interesting, if you’re learning anything. For the love of all that is decent, if you are in a classroom and someone is leading a class of some sort, shut the hell up! Don’t snicker and snort like a twelve year-old girl who just got passed a note checked, “yes.” Jesus H. Christ!
This is my story and I can end it however I want to. But I suppose I’ll be honest and tell it like it is: The Slut Cabal has been mellowing out. Or maybe I am. I think it’s them, though, because I haven’t had to pass a note in class for at least a month. Yes, this is less than ideal for the writer in me, who has them to thank for this post at least. But it is keeping all of me out of prison for murder, so that’s something.