Every month, an invitation to our elementary school’s upcoming PTA meeting arrives in my inbox. It’s a nice touch, this clever use of modern technology to gently remind the slacker moms and dads among us of our parental obligations to sell wrapping paper and plan pancake breakfasts.
But every month, I still promptly hit the delete button.
It’s not that I don’t value my daughter’s education, or appreciate the efforts of the parents who actually plan those pancake breakfasts. I’m just not PTA material. I have way too many opinions, and nowhere near enough interest in baked goods.
I’m doing everyone a favor by staying home and keeping my mouth shut. Trust me.
And it turns out that other parents feel this way too. Award-winning author and humorist Lela Davidson has launched an entire career by mocking the supposedly sacred parent-teacher organization. With her first book, a collection of essays entitled Blacklisted from the PTA, Davidson built a cult following of sorts by suggesting that actually getting kicked out of the PTA might be easier than just saying no.
“Peanuts in public schools are like anthrax in Washington D.C.,” she writes in Blacklisted. “Distribute M&Ms to the kids in your charge at the petting zoo and you’ll never be asked to organize another field trip.”
Another trick she recommends? Getting a tramp stamp, so that “strategic use of low-rise jeans can insulate you from years of Fall Carnival shifts, spaghetti socials, and any other event that would put you in proximity of any Mr. PTAs.”
Now, the CPA-turned-humor-writer and mother of two has published her second book of essays, Who Peed on My Yoga Mat? The collection, which is characterized by more of Davidson’s trademark brand of humor, includes more sly digs at the PTA, and even the true story of how she herself got blacklisted.
“I spend countless hours devoted to the care, feeding, and moral development of my children during non-school hours,” she writes in her Note to the New PTA. “Therefore, I am reluctant to sign-on for any of your clipboard-worthy activities. They’re just so … time-consuming. Frankly, I’ve put in my time as Cheerful Mommy, so unless you’re recruiting for chaperones to accompany students abroad, expect me to become suddenly engrossed in my Twitter feed when the sign-up sheet is passed.”
As for fundraisers, she agrees to “wholeheartedly support the projects I like, as well as anything that gives me an excuse to drink too much and have my picture taken in a nice dress.”
Who Peed on My Yoga Mat? contains 47 short essays, with titles like The Road to Hell is Covered in Minivans, How Not to Get STDs, and Red Light, Green Light, Shut the F*** Up. Lela’s real-life stories about her experiences as a suburban wife and mother are both hilarious and genuine, and her new collection is perfect for any mom who loves to laugh.
“I hope women can see themselves in my stories,” says Davidson, “and know that we all have more in common than not.” She also hopes that we all know how to laugh at ourselves, and believes that laughter is hands-down the best way to survive the inevitable moments of insanity that accompany family life.
“We have to laugh,” she concludes, “because good gin is just too expensive to drink every day.”