Bah, Humbug: The Sugar Plum Edition
I emailed the letter on Monday, and then didn't hear anything, which wasn't surprising considering it was almost Thanksgiving. Then that Wednesday, right before the 4-day weekend, I ran into the principal in the school office after MG’s after-school drama camp performance (in which she gave a stirring performance as one of six horses who didn’t want to help the Little Red Hen, played with splendid self-righteousness by MG’s friend Ginger. Which is a whole other post I didn’t write). I was in kind of a pissy mood anyway because the newsletter always has notices like “You can pick up x and y Important Forms in the office!” and the office is never open when us working parent types are there to pick up our kids at aftercare, and being in the office just reminded me of all that.
So maybe I wasn’t as diplomatic as I could’ve been. I’ve been on the other side of this kind of thing and I know the dread that strikes school personnel at even the prospect of the Pissy Parent. And I think that perhaps (just perhaps) I came off as the Pissy Parent. Though all I did at first was introduce myself and remind her of the letter, really because I wanted to get her okay to ask MG’s teacher if I could come in and do a song and dance about Chanukah.
But she got all defensive somehow and before I knew it she was going on about how wreaths aren’t a Christian symbol, not like a nativity scene or anything, that they’re secular and not tied to any one religion. And I was all, “Well, yes, actually they are. They’re a symbol of Christmas, which is a Christian holiday.” And SHE was all, “Well, really Christmas started as a pagan holiday anyway” which RW and I get into at home a fair bit so it’s a familiar trope to me and maybe I was kind of dismissive of that. Just a titch.
And she ended up backing away slowly with that terrified omigod-help-me-escape-from-this-Pissy-Parent look in her eye and babbling about how you learn something new every day and she hadn’t known that about wreaths and she certainly would look at the links I’d sent her.
I think perhaps it was not a great moment in civil liberties history.
It gets worse!
Because while I have been foaming at the mouth over the clueless principal and a couple of comments on another blog (a blog I love, whose host doesn’t share the commenters’ sentiments) about oversensitive people who want to Take Away Christmas and Santa and need to get over themselves, and generally getting ready to take up the banner of separation of church and state on behalf of all non-Christmas-celebrators everywhere, Renaissance Woman has been living up to her name and her status as PTA Board Member, and has been helping get the school’s Moosic Doscent (misspelled on purpose because I bet all the volunteers are madly Googling to get information about any similar programs anywhere) program. Which we have because the public schools are underfunded and all the arts are taught by parent volunteers.
The Chief Volunteer Moosic Doscent Hoo-Hah has decreed that all MooDo volunteers shall teach one composer each month, and that December is Tchaichovsky Month. (RW, upon being asked to vet the foregoing description: “Did you know he was gay?” Me, a little punchy: “No! Get out! You should teach that to the class!”)
Anyway, leaving aside the issue of sexual orientation, what is Tchaikovsky’s most famous work? All together now:
THE NUTCRACKER SUITE!
So, to review:
1. I wrote the principal a pissy letter about laying off the Xmas in school.
2. While hopped up on self-righteousness, I had a pissy conversation with the principal in which I gave her more bad news about more Xmas-related things I didn’t think she should have in school in December.
3. Meanwhile, RW, my spouse, through no fault of her own, will be giving a SPECIAL PRESENTATION to MG’s class, all about THE FRICKING NUTCRACKER SUITE, THE MOST FAMOUS XMAS BALLET EVER!
4. But she did decide not to hand out candy canes afterwards.
But wait! There’s still more!
RW and I have been doing some online shopping in preparation for the abundance of December holidays ahead of us. And MG, at my instigation and thanks to my dad's generosity, is going to see The Nutcracker when we go to New York this winter break. And she loves ballet and loves that book from the 70’s, “A Very Young Dancer,” which those of you of a certain age might recall is all about a 10-year-old girl who gets the lead part in The Nutcracker in New York.
So each of us, independently, ordered “A Very Young Dancer” for her from ABEBooks. Now we have two copies. RW suggested that since the whole fricking school is learning about fricking Tchaikovsky this month and the school library doesn’t have a copy of the book, we should donate it. And since I know the librarian professionally (aside from my new hobby as Pissy Parent) maybe I could email her and ask if she’d like to have it for the collection.
So, to further review:
1) I really need to email MG’s teacher about coming in to talk about Chanukah. Soon!
2) I really need to email MG’s librarian about whether she wants a book about the fricking Nutcracker Suite. Soon!
3) I should also email the principal to alleviate some of the wild-eyed Pissy Parent impression. But what on earth can I say to her, in the face of all the above?
4) I can’t bring myself to do any of it, somehow.
Meanwhile, MG asked me tonight at bedtime how to spell “Nisse,” which are little Danish house elves that come to your house at Christmas and do your housework if you leave them rice pudding. Because RW grew up Danish, we don’t do Santa at our interfaith house; we do nisse. “My teacher wanted to know how to spell it, and I didn’t know,” she said.
“Oh,” I said with elaborate casualness, “Were you talking about Christmas and Chanukah and stuff like that?”
MG, who is no dummy and can spot a loaded question a mile away, looked shifty. “She was talking about…winter. About what happens in winter. And I was the only one who knew about nisse! I bet I’m the only one who knows about Chanukah, too,” she added smugly.
5) As promised, I have to write the proper spelling of “nisse” on a piece of paper and put it in MG’s folder. So her teacher will know how to spell it.
And I will. Right after I impale myself on this handy menorah. Or a candy cane. Whichever’s closest.