Malilong Isberto:Confessions of a wannabe PTA mom

FIGHTING WORDS - Kay Malilong-Isberto - The Philippine Star

The Seattle SuperSonics, now known as the Oklahoma City Thunder, won the National Basketball Association Western Conference Finals. Manny Pacquiao lost to Timothy Bradley after remaining unbeaten since 2005. I have become an official PTA mom.

When my son entered as a freshman at his high school, we had to fill up an information sheet detailing our home and office addresses, contact numbers and email, hobbies and interests, and whether or not we were willing to be officers in the parent-teacher association. I remember ticking off “No” in the box designated for that question. At that time, I was certain that neither my husband nor I was prepared to give the time or effort necessary to do the job.

Besides, I have always imagined that a PTA mom should look a certain way. If I became one, I thought that I should first learn to look effortlessly chic. My hair would look like I knew how to use a hairdryer or had enough time and money to go to a salon for a daily blow-dry. The preferred outfit would be a crisp sheath dress, Michael Kors flats, and Hermes or other expensive bag. This picture changed a bit after I read a local fashion magazine. One article said that in one of Metro Manila’s most expensive Catholic schools, the uniform for mothers who waited for their kids in school was this: designer jeans, discreetly elegant designer bag (screaming logos spelled nouveau riche), and a Lacoste pique shirt.

I also thought that when they were not in school hanging out with each other or waiting for their children, PTA moms spent their time at the gym. After all, being fit would be the only way they could look good in a crisp sheath dress or in jeans and a Lacoste pique shirt.

My opinion changed after I met the class parent officers in my son’s class. Both of them were working moms and neither of them wore the outfits I imagined or read about in a fashion magazine. Twice a year, our sons’ class has a gathering for students and parents and on both occasions, I noticed that the spread was simple. For Christmas, there was plain rice, two meat dishes, and fruit salad. Compared to our parties in Cebu where lechon is invariably served, it didn’t look like a Christmas party at all. I almost felt sorry for my son’s class but he said that the food was ok and that “that is how we roll.”

I am also discovering that PTA parents (and not just moms because there are dads who are active in the organization) are not just people whom the school approaches for donations (although fund-raising for school projects is a valuable skill to have). In my son’s school, the organization is called the Parents Union for School and Home. In cooperation with the school, parents are involved in different activities designed to promote the academic preparation and character formation of the students. The organization’s other goal is to improve parenting competencies and skills. While I believe that the best way to raise a child is to pay attention to your own child and not to slavishly follow the instructions of experts, attending the PTA parenting seminars gave me useful tips for dealing with my teenage son (like not hovering over him, which is what he suspects I might do by being a PTA mom).

My son has two years of high school left and maybe my agreeing to be a PTA mom is my attempt to slow down time. I promise not to try to attend his prom and to just focus on looking like the PTA mom in my head. If the Supersonics can make it to the finals, I can probably learn to blow-dry my hair and fit into a sheath dress.


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