Don’t Complain. Especially If You Are A Part Of The 80%.

I recently saw a Facebook post written by a teacher where she described two different interactions with parents regarding school supplies.

It’s a post from last year, but now that it’s that time of year again, the post is resurfacing.

In a nutshell, one parent was complaining about how much money she had to spend on school supplies for her kid, and the other parent was completely supportive and understanding about the whole thing.

As a parent, I get it. With five kids in the public school system this year, we will spend between $100 – $200 getting everything on the school lists for our first, second, third, sixth, and seventh graders.

As a former teacher, I also get it.

When I first started teaching, there was money in the budget for most supplies.

We got paper and pencils and crayons and scissors and tissues and almost everything we would need for our students. And then, as budgets were cut, those things were some of the first to go. And gradually, students were responsible for more and more supplies until eventually, they were responsible for pretty much all of them.

It’s not a fun position to be in as a teacher or as a parent.

But here is the thing…


You do have some say and some influence in this department.

But it’s not by complaining to the teacher. It’s not by complaining to the principal, either.

Your influence comes at the times that most parents choose to be ignorant and oblivious.

Every year there is a vote on our town’s school budget.

The first five or six years we lived here, I was completely uninvolved politically. I was as clueless as you could possibly be.

If there was a budget vote, I couldn’t even tell you when it was.

Ignorance was bliss.

Until my kids entered school and I saw the f*&@ing supply lists.


They were massive!

How many goddamned glue sticks does one kid need?

It took me a few years to educate myself with respect to local politics.

And I don’t have the exact numbers. Not even close.

But here is what I have learned:  the percentage of people with children who vote on school budgets and who attend Board of Ed and PTA meetings is embarrassingly low.

And I know it’s not just my town. It’s every town.

It’s something like less than 20% of parents who vote.

But it’s 100% of parents who complain about how much money needs to be spent on school supplies.

You know where your influence is? It’s at the polls. It’s at the Board of Ed meetings.

But you have to be involved. You have to speak up.

And you also have to approve budgets.

The last time one of our budget increases for the school was shot down, the increase in taxes per family was something like $38.

Thirty eight dollars.

A year!

You could be involved, know what’s in your town’s budget, speak up regarding what you are unhappy about, and approve a $40/family increase that could pay for a lot of those supplies you complain about having to buy, or you can remain completely uninvolved, bury your ignorant head in the sand, and shell out two or three or four times the amount of a proposed tax increase at the beginning of the school year depending on how many kids you have in the school system.

Those school supplies you are paying for? They aren’t the teachers’ faults.

They are the parents’. The 80% of the parents who don’t want to be bothered participating in the decisions that will affect their kids in school in the years to come.

And waiting until your kids are in school is not early enough! But the time they are in kindergarten, there are decisions that have been put into place that could take several years to reverse.

You need to get involved well before your kids are ready for kindergarten!!! You need to get involved as soon as you are a taxpayer!

So before you complain this year about how much money you have to shell out for your kids’s school supplies, first you might want to consider a few things.

Did you vote on your last school budget?

Did you vote in your last local election?

Are you even registered to vote?

If not, you really have no right to complain about anything.

And instead of spending time bashing school systems and teachers in an angry Facebook post about how much shit you have to buy, maybe you should focus your energy on being a responsible citizen, filling out a voter registration card, and educating yourself on what is going on in your town.


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I’m with *her*.

Conversation on the ride home from swim practice:

Number 4: Mom, we had an election last week.

Me: Oh, really?

Number 4: Yeah, we could vote for Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, or we could check off “other” and write in a name.

Me: Do you want to tell me who you voted for?

Number 4: I didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton.

Me: You didn’t?

Number 4: But I didn’t vote for Donald Trump, either. I picked other.

Me: Did you write in a name, or did you just leave it blank?

Number 4: I wrote in a name.

Me: Whose name did you write in?

Number 4: I wrote in the only person I knew who would make a great president. I wrote in…

Susie Johnson.

Well, it’s official.

Number 4 is now my favorite child.

And who knows. Maybe one day.

At least all my skeletons are out of the closet 🙂


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Slowly but surely, I’m becoming a grown up.

A couple weeks ago, a friend sent me this picture:


I accepted the challenge, interested to see if my life would start to change.

It’s been two weeks.

And, well…

My life is changing.

An interesting thing happens when you make the decision to stop complaining.

You realize you can do one of two things.

If there is something bothering you, you can address it  head on.

You can be direct and to the point. And you can take action.

Like a grown up.

Or you can go the other route.

Do nothing and keep your mouth shut. And sulk.

Like a teenager.

I’m going with Option A.

The town I live in is in the midst of a political shitstorm.

A really bad one.

It is affecting lots of different things, but one of the biggest is that our schools are taking a serious beating.

I have done my fair share of complaining about it.

I’ve complained about class sizes and lack of programs and supplies and resources and the fact that we now have to pay for our kids to participate in athletics in all the schools.

I have lived in this town for almost six years now, and up until this past November you know what I did to change the things I was unhappy about?

Absolutely nothing.

I didn’t vote.

I wasn’t even registered to vote until this past October.

I didn’t go to PTO meetings.

I didn’t go to Board of Ed meetings.

This past November was the first time I actually voted in a town election.

I didn’t really know who I was voting for, though. I just checked off a bunch of boxes.

I voted again this past January, I think it was.

Maybe it was February.

But you know what?

I don’t really know what I voted for.

I don’t know why there was an election in the middle of the winter, either. I thought they were all in November.

The day after the election, I was sitting here at the computer in the office with Maureen, and I looked at her and I said,

“I’m feeling like a really responsible citizen for voting yesterday. But, um, what the fuck was it that I voted for, exactly?”

I had no clue. I still don’t.

All I know is that I voted for the guy that my friend told me to vote for.

Completely uninformed.

But still complaining!

So anyway, today I made a decision. Don’t complain. And either shit or get off the pot.

I decided I’d take a pretty big poop.

Today I started to educate myself about politics, and more specifically, about the politics in my town.

I still have a lot to learn but not complaining has forced me to actually get involved.

And tomorrow I am going to a meeting about the proposed 2015-16 school budget for our town (9:30 a.m. at HHES local peeps).

I have never gone to one of these meetings before.

And not because I couldn’t.

But because I didn’t feel like it.

I mean, let’s face it. There are about 4000 things I’d rather be doing.

But if I can come up with excuses to blow off a meeting that I am able to attend, especially a meeting that affects the future of my children, then I am not doing everything I can to 1) educate myself, and 2) make a difference.

And if I am not doing EVERYTHING I can to educate myself and make a difference, then I have no business even thinking about complaining in the first place.

So has my life changed as a result of my committing to not complaining?

You bet it has.

In fact, starting tomorrow, I’m pretty sure I’m gonna change a whole bunch of lives because of it.


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