Answers to your frequently asked questions

Marianne tries her hand at advice

As an admitted parenting failure, it has come as quite a shock to find myself a much sought-after voice in navigating the complexities of the school year. Never one to shy away from a challenge, I have therefore taken my best stab at answering a few of the most frequently asked questions from all around the Chicagoland area. Here goes!

Dear Marianne,

My son has asked that I chaperone one of his field trips this year. I am not confident in my ability to keep track of a bunch of kids while traversing a busy zoo or museum. What are your thoughts?

Signed, Anxious Amy

Dear Amy,

This is where selectivity becomes very important. Forget the pumpkin patch and Shedd Aquarium – your charges will scatter faster than a flash mob. Think “containment.” Pick events (plays, performances, etc.) where kids are held captive between rows and rows of seats with limited escape channels. Should that fail, be prepared to leave for a “family emergency” where you turn your kids over to that mom who enjoys making cupcakes for the bake sale and sells Innisbrook wrapping paper to everyone she’s ever met. Good luck!

Dear Marianne,

I am really upset about something my daughter’s teacher said in class. It was a rather inappropriate comment, and I feel I should say something to the principal immediately. What do you think?

Signed, Offended Olivia

Dear Olivia,

Unless your child has been lit on fire (repeatedly), I would refrain from filing complaints against the school. You must keep in mind that with every phone call, letter, or email, your name moves closer to the top of the field trip chaperone list. It’s not worth it. Be a phantom instead. Let them think your kid is an orphan. After a while, they will even stop sending home the Innisbrook fundraising packet. It’s a total win-win.

Dear Marianne,

I cannot get my son to work with me on his science project. There are so many aspects of the assignment (the experiment, report, graphs, board) that I fear won’t be ready in time for the due date. What can I do?

Signed, Hopeless Helen

Dear Helen,

Silly wabbit, the school doesn’t actually expect your kid to do his project! What does a grammar school student know about creating a 3-D graph with five variable function? I, too, used to believe that my children would manage their own science projects. What a dolt! Last year, rumor has it that one CPS mom outsourced her daughter’s entire project to a retired NASA engineer. These things have NOTHING to do with the kids. The sooner you embrace this idea and identify a suitable consulting firm to handle his project, the better!

Dear Marianne,

I am very nervous about my daughter Carrie’s first parent-teacher conference. I have already received notices home about her poor behavior and inability to follow directions. I am scared the teacher is going to blame me for everything and suggest parenting courses. Can I just skip the whole thing?

Signed, Terrified Terry

Dear Terry,

OF COURSE you can skip it! Sheesh. This is Chicago, for Pete’s sake! Only like 1/3 of parents bother attending these conferences. You’d practically be a freak if you did show up! But if you are compelled to attend, remember: deny, deny, deny. Carrie throws things in class? She never does that at home! Carrie swears? She must have learned that language on the bus! Carrie can’t seem to keep her hands to herself? Ask for video evidence! This is an easy one.

Thanks again to everyone for their amazing questions and support! Sadly, this may be my sole venture into the whole advice column thing. I’m told satire is a dying art with very few followers.

Perhaps it just needs a Twitter account?

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