So it was Back-to-School Night tonight. There was a great turnout, I’m happy to say–it was standing room only. When I got up to do my presidential bit, I had the ESL teacher translate into Spanish, so all the parents could understand. I’m not that used to speaking using an interpreter, and I kept forgetting to stop so she could keep up. But I did succeed in getting one of the bilingual parents to agree to interpret at future meetings, which was great. I think that people appreciated it.

I also found a volunteer to do web design, someone to translate flyers into Spanish, and someone to take pictures at school events, which was like hitting the Trifecta as far as I was concerned.

I was feeling really good about the night. Until…

I was sitting in the Bee’s classroom with a couple of other parents. Landisdad had gone to the first session, so I went to the second (the kids were with us and weren’t allowed to come to the sessions), which was much less well attended–it’s basically for the people who have 2 kids in school–there were only four people there. The teachers were talking about the great student-to-teacher ratio (there’s a teacher, a co-teacher and a student teacher, with 20 kids), and the state testing, which the third graders are subjected to for the first time.

At the end of the session, the only dad in the room made a comment along the lines of, “well, that’s what you get when you let all those Japanese kids into our country–they make our kids have to work harder.”

I had one of those moments where time seems to stop, and I thought, “I can’t believe he said that, I can’t let it go, what the fuck do I say to that, who the hell’s dad is this?, why aren’t any of the parents of color at this session? is anyone else going to say anything” Finally, I blurted out, “well, I have to tell you that my brother is married to a Japanese woman, and I have a couple of half-Japanese nieces and nephews, and I found that remark kind of offensive.”

He snorted at me, and said, “well, it’s supposed to be a compliment.”

Oh. My. God.

Yeah, the waves of Japanese immigrants washing over our shores are sooooo threatening to your tiny ass. Your kid is struggling in third grade because of a group of foreign students who aren’t even represented in this class.

Give me a break.

It’s times like these, I wish I was a quick-witted as Pierre, who I’m sure would have skewered him, filleted him, wrapped him in butcher paper, taken him home and broiled him. Instead, I came home and watched the Chris Rock DVD I got from Netflix this weekend, and wished I could have unleashed Chris Rock on this guy.

The really bad part is, this guy’s kid has been in my daughter’s class for three years, and I never knew he was an asshole before tonight.


September 26, 2007. politically motivated, the joys of PTA.


  1. CamiKaos replied:

    oh no, the undercover asshole!

  2. alala replied:

    Well, maybe the kid’s not an asshole…?

    Also, all sympathy here: I think you responded quite well, better than I would have. I always lose my cool and flub such situations.

  3. Suzanne replied:

    I also think your response was great — most people might have just stewed in silence. I’d like to think that I would have had the nerve to respond similarly; I hope so.

  4. Jody replied:


    I mean, I don’t even know where to START with that one.

    Now my head hurts.

  5. elise replied:

    I also think you did a good job. You will never change that man’s mind but at least you say something. I am never able to say anything. I think partly is that I just don’t get it when its happening and then I’m all flustered when I figure it out. For example a neighbor of mind recently moved. He called me to let me know and he started out by saying “I sold the house to a nice African family.” I responded with “Really, how neat!!!” He then said “I was only joking, I sold it to a nice WHITE family”. So by then I felt like a fool and couldn’t manage to say anything. By the way, I’m REALLY wishing that he sold it to a nice African family because the people in there now can’t stop yelling at each other and the wife/mother drove (flew) down our 10 MPH street at 10:30 pm one night and drove into/up a tree.

    If this thing wasn’t so pathetic, it would be very funny. If I ever hear from my old neighbor again I will be sure to let him know I would much prefer the African family – at least in this case! I guess in your situation it would have been obvious even to me but then I still think I wouldn’t have the gumption to stand up to the man. I have to spend a lot of time planning my confrontations – I”m just so bad off the cuff. I really wish this would be something I could change in myself but I think it will take time.

  6. thordora replied:

    oh the ole “it’s a joke/compliment” line.

    I live in the whitest place ever, and there’s nothing like the words “those people” or “pakis” coming flying out. I used to be very good friends with a indians, so it’s so freaking offensive, and yet they just don’t get it.

    Not much you can do aside from what you did.

  7. MetroDad replied:

    What an asshole! Oh well…at least you know that he’s an asshole now.

    Isn’t it strange having these relationships with strangers just because your kids are in the same school as theirs? Even though my daughter is only 3-years-old, I’ve seen parents at her daycare whom I thought were relatively nice and normal, only to hear them slip out the accidental racist/sexist/misogynistic comment. Always amazes me.

    That’s why I no longer deal with any of my daughters’ friends parents. I’m quickly becoming the nomadic dad who rushes in with his head down, picks up his kid, and leaves without speaking to anyone.

  8. Anjali replied:

    My daughter’s school is 50% South and East Asian. You wouldn’t believe the comments I hear. (“Well that’s why the SAT score is so high — because of all the damn Asian kids.”)

    And these are the parents who did everything they could to move into such a great school district to begin with.


  9. chichimama replied:

    Argh. Double Argh. Gah.

  10. Library Lady replied:

    I stomped home from JR’s back to school night and told the Man I am NOT going to her 4th or 5th grade sessions. (It’s his turn next year anyway)
    I have had it with the helicopter parents. For pete’s sake, this is THIRD GRADE, not college. Calm down!
    OUR asshole dad was a suit and tie clad pompous git who looked at the following list of social studies topics:
    West Africa
    ..and demanded why the kids weren’t doing AMERICAN history this year!

    (Hint, they’re doing ANCIENT CIVILIZATIONS!)

    Oh, and sorry, Landismom, but I SKIPPED the opening meeting including the PTA presentation. Because after 8 years of the same old crap (including the damn Sally Foster wrapping paper demo) if I had to go one more time, I would scream!

    (Can you tell that I need to blog about this?)

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  12. guerson replied:

    I now understand better why my mother quickly stopped going to school meetings. Her patience was always very thin and her tongue too quick to be able to endure a couple of hours of parents going on and on about how perfect their little Johnny was… I think she pretty much told me not to bother handing her the notes from school announcing such meetings. She figured that if there was any problems wit her own kids, then the school would contact her…

    But I’m shocked at the comment by that asshole…. Didn’t know there was this notion in the US that Asian kids are making it harder for the local kids. I’ve certainly never heard anything like that here in Canada. I Don’t know what I would have said either; I think we all need a workshop on how to deal with this sort of thing!

  13. Jody replied:

    Library Lady, The funny/ironic thing is that, if they’re doing Ancient Civilizations, they SHOULD do something American — Mayan, probably, or Aztec. Although that’s going to open a whole ‘nother set of problems, given the schools’ general unhappy trend of teaching American Indian history as the history of a people who are no longer around.

    Ah, it never ends.

  14. Library Lady replied:

    Yeah, they should, Jody. But they’re probably saving it to do for 15 seconds for “Hispanic Heritage”. Heck, the fact that they’re doing West Africa as part of the courses rather than as part of “Black History” month is a plus in my view.

    They do a fair amount of teaching about Native American culture in 2nd grade here in VA. And I don’t think they do it totally in the past tense, though they do of course concentrate on the time before the white people came in and screwed things up.

    My pissed off response was due to the obvious “everything has to be about America” attitude of Mr Suit. Because what they DON’T teach, aside from the ancient cultures is Asian, European or African history-everything else is pretty much ALL USA. And try to find any straight history of European/Asian or African countries for young students–there are books about the French Revolution or the days of knighthood, but a plain old history of exotic England? Forget it. Which is why our kids are so damn ignorant.

    And why we can have adults who think in such stereotypes as “all Asians do well in school”.
    Obviously, they haven’t watched my half-Filipino daughter struggle with math!

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