Friday, September 7, 2012

Madam Speaker

When the kids were in grade school, I was asked by the PTA to be in charge of the all-school reading program.  I said I would but only if I could change everything about it.

Prior to taking it over, the reading program was a contest between classes to see who could read the most minutes over the course of a week.  The winning class would get a pizza party.  There were two problems with this.

#1.  Kids cheated so their class would win.  I know it's a damning accusation but it was true.

#2.  I don't believe reading is a contest.

I started an all-school book club with activities in the lunchroom every day geared to all age groups.  The first year we did Charlotte's Web.  Swoon.  By week's end we had set up a mini county fair on the first floor with blue ribbon pies, quilts and dioramas that the 3rd graders made.

I knocked it out of the park.

After that success, the PTA asked me if I would be the chair of programs for the following year.  I knew that doing this would require me to get up in front of an audience each time to introduce the guest and I couldn't do it.  Couldn't stand up in front of others and talk like a normal person.

I declined but said I'd consider being the treasurer as I was a loan officer in my before kids life and could manage a budget.  This is one of the hardest jobs to fill and they must have been high-fiving each other when I offered to take it without even being asked.

It wasn't the most well thought out decision.

#1.  People would show up at my place of employment looking for a PTA payout and get pissy when I couldn't give them their money because I didn't carry the checkbook with me.   To my job.  Where I was being paid to work not run an ATM.

#2.  It's a two year gig.  After being treasurer for a year you become VP of Finance which is a mentoring position for the new treasurer.  TWO years of regular PTA meetings followed by PTA board meetings.

#3.  I had to give a budget report each month.

I'd shot myself in the foot but good.

Every meeting I'd get up in front of an audience in the cafeteria and give a shaky voiced report on the status of the money.  While I rarely strayed from my printed report, once in awhile I'd wing it and look out at an audience who seemed to be showing outright pity over my anxiety.  I would try to calm myself and regroup but usually ended up gagging on some wayward spit.

For the last two weeks, we have watched both the Republican and Democratic conventions and geez..............where do these women come from?  These powerful, eloquent women who can speak to thousands of people in a convention center and millions of people at home and never skip a beat.  Never have a crack in their voice that induces sympathy.  Never continually rub their forehead as anxiety induced pain roars through their bodies.  Never have armpit stained dresses or beads of sweat on their newly waxed mustaches.

They came from somewhere but it sure wasn't the PTA I was in.  That produced somebody like me who exhibited all of the above when speaking in front of thirty people and that was after a bathroom run due to a case of The Nervous Poop.


  1. i, too, have been amazed at the eloquence of so many women.

  2. I remember the all-school read of Charlotte's Web. It was brilliant. I marvel at the type of woman who can do!!