Elementary school gives me hives.

My first grader is doing geometry. I am serious, rhombus, parallelogram, trapezoid, and a few others I can’t recall due to PTSD–they’ve been showing up in his homework for a week now. I actually have scholastic anxiety over his homework.

We went in for our parent/teacher conference this week and I mentioned that I have no idea what any of those things are, to which his teacher kindly suggested that I google it. Right. Google. I obviously never considered this option because I never use the internet. Seriously, there are moments that I wonder they ever let me out of elementary school to begin with.

Earlier this year I wrote a rather public article about my thoughts on elementary school homework–as in, I’m not really a fan. Let’s just say teachers everywhere (especially local) wanted nothing more than to put a dart board up in the lounge with my mug on it.

And I have to confess, I have a panic attack every time I pull into the drop-off zone of my son’s school. It takes a ten minute pep talk and a diet coke just to scrounge up enough courage so I can show my face inside, and the entire time I’m there I feel like at any moment I’ll be accosted with tar and feathers. (Please note that there has been no actual evidence of tar or feathers, and that these fears live primarily in my own little head.)

The thing is, I hate it when people don’t like me. There, I said it. Call it what you want, but knowing that there is a large majority all gathered under one roof, who would probably be very happy if I didn’t exist in their school district, is enough to make me want to run to the playground and hide under the slide.

And so, when Harry’s teacher mentioned (twice) that she was low on parent helpers, I couldn’t seem to speak up. I tried, really I tried. I’d like to be a mom who helps, but I’m also a terrified loser whimp.

Let me tell you, it took A LOT of guts for me to email her yesterday and offer my services once a week in the classroom. A lot of guts, and an outbreak of hives. She hasn’t gotten back to me. Honestly, I don’t blame her if she doesn’t want me and my hives around, it looks bad for business.


  1. I think that deep down, we all care about what people think about us. I know that a lot of people say they don’t, but it stings. There are some people I care much less about what they think about me, but in general, I like being liked.

    • annie valentine says:

      Kristina, I hate to tell you this, but rumor has it that Mario Lopez thinks you’re a Mean Girl. Hey, don’t shoot the messenger.

  2. I hate homework in elementary school. And since we’re on the subject, I HATE the science fair with an indescribable passion. Lucky for my 5th grader, Dad took pity and helped him with his project this year. (Bad mom. Bad, bad mom.)

  3. I’m with you — I really really need to have people like me. Maybe being a parent volunteer will gain a few friends, though, right?

    I’m already a bit anxious about homework. I’ve been working a lot with my son this year (who will be in kdg next year) and it’s NOT FUN.

  4. Good for you for volunteering. Hope the teacher sees an able, willing and quite capable volunteer and snatches you up.

  5. Hallelujah that someone else sees homework the same way I do. Homework is “parentwork”. There, I said it.

  6. Ten to one she asks for help anyway. And then she’ll fall in love with you, as anyone with a brain is apt to do.

    And for the record, my kindergartner does roughly an hour of homework PER DAY.

    Don’t get me started.

  7. Mwah ha ha. Haven’t we had this discussion multiple times — about how you need to STOP worrying about what people think about you? I could honestly. care. less. It sounds fake, but really – I’m not here to impress you or anyone else for that matter. I only worry about what one person thinks of me and that is the Man Upstairs. If we’re squared away at the end of each day, then it’s alllll good with me. Of course, to be squared away I need to be living the way I’m s’posed to and all that jazz. You get the point. Re-evaluate your motivation for doing things and then adjust your motives to be more pure.

    If you want to bypass hives and go straight to anxiety-induced-coma, then try my life homeschooling a FREAKIN’ smart 3rd grader. Boo-yah.

  8. I hate 4th grade division w/remainders. I don’t care how they teach it now, just do it my way and you get the same answer. I don’t know technical terms, just do it and get it done.

    I’m in PTA. Don’t ever join. The end.

  9. You rock. I love that Carter is in kindergarten…hate the homework. Sad to admit, sometimes I’m not even clear as to what he is supposed to do for his homework. I feel so dumb…I am a college graduate and don’t understand the directions to my kindergartener’s homework. Pathetic. His teacher keeps asking me if I could volunteer in his class, but I can’t bring myself to do it. I use my other kids as excuses…you know, Mason is a pain and would get into everything…Tyler is just a baby and would be hard to take…but really, I just don’t have the patience. It’s so sad. Before Carter went to school I would try and help him learn to read…I was terrible. Take the word BAT…he would start sounding it out and after about 5 seconds I was like, it’s bat…for the love, and do you see an “r” in there anywhere, than why are you making an “r” sound! Joel would quietly shoo me away and take over. How embarassing to admit…I hope you are the only who reads this comment…you wouldn’t think badly of me, right?! Anyway, I have maybe a teensy bit more patience with other kids, but not so much. It would be a nightmare for me and everyone else if I went. By the way, loved seeing you on tv…more please!

  10. Holy long comment…sorry about that…

  11. Annie, I have anxiety for you. My sons teacher hates us, and it was HE not ME who annoyed her. I’m the room mom who she goes around and asks other parents to help. I am counting down until he and I don’t have to go through this any more. And if I had the experiences you did, I would resign. I was impressed you went inside, because I would make my husband handle it. Seriously. I’m a huge wimp. I like to avoid issues so they don’t bother me. I am seriously impressed you volunteered to help. I give you a standing ovation.

  12. I love Kadi. I can so relate.

    And as I’ve said before, I agree with you on the homework stuff, its ridiculous. Its all I can do to remember to hound my daughter to do her’s EVERY STINKING DAY. You’re awesome to volunteer, I so would’ve been too chicken. Oh, and you shouldn’t feel bad for saying you want people to like you! Who doesn’t?! I mean, do people out there really want people to HATE them? Uh, no.

  13. I had problems at school too. So, I sent in my husband for conferences and I stayed home with the kids. Yes, I felt like a wimp.

    Here’s the funny part. The teacher FLIRTED with him. She kept putting her HAND ON HIS KNEE.

    It’s true. It leaves my chin on the floor too.

  14. Elizabeth says:

    From a teacher’s perspective…..you know why First Graders are learning about trapeziods, rhomubuses and so forth…..BECAUSE IT’S ON THE END OF THE YEAR TEST! Period. Half the stuff I teach is done because of that *%#$ test.

    And for the record…the way to a teacher’s heart. Some good ole’ fashion appreciation…as in…..bribery. It’s a thankless job at best. So send cute notebooks, cute pens, a box of hot chocolate, a pack of gum, 20 dollars, whatever you have or can make. Send it. And often. Very often. I promise that you will be on any teacher’s good list and word will get around the school. My son’s teacher is getting a quilt at the end of the year. #1 because she is a saint, and #2 because I have learned the system.

  15. Math in general gives me hives. And if it makes you feel better, I’m pretty sure my name is mud at my dudes school right now too. =P

  16. What the carpola is all that math stuff –IN ELEMENTARY.
    Seriously, matha dn science haunted me my whole life. HAUNTED ME.
    I still count on my fingers ——–shhhhhh, our little secret.

    and that was incredibly awesome of you to call the school and offer your help.
    Just don’t wear anything red —with a bulls eye on the back. (tee,hee)
    They need to GET OVER IT.
    I remember reading all about that and what a stinking nightmare that had to be for you

  17. This is way I always bring candy when I substitute in Primary (even on Fast Sunday) because I can’t handle people – especially small ones – not liking me. And I take it a little personally when one of my “followers” stops following my blog. Ouch.

  18. At least you have a good excuse, I just don’t like going into my kids class period. I know they don’t like me there! I don’t like it when people don’t like me either, it makes me feel like a heel when I have to talk to them.

  19. I feel your pain. When my 6th and final child graduated from elementary school, the cheering could be heard for blocks. Jr High was only worse. Now I’m down to 2 kids in high school — it’s hard to feel sad about your kids growing up when you know you won’t have to deal with public school pretty soon.

    Math help — here it is — go to http://www.uvu.edu/mathlab and follow the links for MathLab Online. It is FREE, live chat on a whiteboard, with the tutors of the UVU math lab and they tutor public school kids as well as the university kids — promise! They’ll help anyone who shows up on the whiteboard.

    Good luck! It does pay off to volunteer in the school. Shows you care, and that goes a long way with teachers.

  20. Not sure which is worse: hives or shingles (my family suffers from the latter). Although worms & head lice are also pretty bad, which I understand can also be contracted from elementary schools…

    Grade school homework is a necessary evil. It’s been around longer than Depends and probably isn’t going anywhere soon, unless you decide to home school. Then, just think, your kids’ homework could morph into bread making, star counting, and grocery shopping with you, which, believe me, sounds good more often than not.


    Be strong, Annie! Stick to your guns & don’t let the naysayers get you down. I’d like to see all those peeps write a newspaper article, dish out a sweet and sassy blog, and raise a family with the zest and upbeat attitude you have. I bet they would all pale in comparison!