“I love all of my kids, but I don’t always like their moms,” confessed my close friend, a preschool teacher. Whatshe told me made me laugh, cringe, and ask every teacher I knew about their mommy pet peeves (we've chosen to identify the teachers here by their first names only for good reasons). Read this, and take notes because even good moms do crazy things. And if you’re having a moment when you think you’re a bad mom, this will make you feel instantly better. The Playground Referee She stands at the sidelines, waiting to call foul if someone accidentally bumps her child or cheats him on a turn on the slide. If her child does come home with a bruise, she’s sure to show up the next day demanding to know what happened. Why it doesn’t work: “Kids need to learn how to deal with harutan and tampuhan,” says teacher Gia, adding that kids tend to pick up a parent’s fearfulness. “If you overreact to teasing, your child will, too. Lalaki siyang pikon.” The Hovering Mom When she picks up her kid, she check his cubbyhole to make sure he hasn’t left anything, then reads through his homework and corners the teacher with tons of follow-up questions. Afterwards, she’ll sometimes ask to see what the other kids did--competitive, much? Why it doesn’t work: Teacher Jane says 1) understanding homework is a student’s job and 2) if your teacher feels the pressure, your child probably does, too. “I’m glad to see parents care about their child’s education, but in the first years put your energy into building good study habits and routines including letting him taking care of his school things himself. At this age, it should not be about being the best at everything.”
The Psycho Photojournalist She elbows other parents out of a good shot during school programs, or disrupts an activity just so she can get a better angle. Teacher Olive remembers one parent who sat through a Christmas play’s final dress rehearsal just so she could get good close-up solos of her daughter. “When we told her she could take pics at the actual event, she said, 'Ang pangit kasi ng lighting sa auditorium.'" Why it doesn’t work: You’re collecting great memories, but not leaving very many good ones behind.
The Party Queen School parties are not the venue for living out Pinterest dreams. Don’t be the mom who told everyone not to bring lunch and then fed everyone fruit sticks and yoghurt in personalized cups (“Honestly, I was so hungry I would’ve been happy with a hotdog,” says Teacher Ray.) Or the mom whose invitations asked classmates to come in a particular color scheme then told kids who didn’t comply to “stand in the back” come picture-taking time. And let’s not forget the mom who brought a photographer and a backdrop and made everyone pose for solos before serving food--do you know how sad it is to tell a child, “We’ll give you your hamburger after you smile?” Why it doesn’t work: The main goal of a successful school birthday party is feed the kids as quickly as possible. You’re essentially sponsoring recess. No more, no less.
The Oversharing Mom First, the parent-teacher meeting starts with her kid--he misses some of his homework, and gets kind of rough with his classmates. Then it becomes all about her. Marital problems (usually how she does everything and hubby doesn’t help), job problems, how hard it is to be a good mom, and how her own parents never did anything at all. All 100 percent valid and true, of course, but everyone's thought bubble (co-parents included): “We just met you, and all we want to say is your child needs help with his homework.” Awkward Why it doesn’t work: We’ve all been this mom: stressed, probably overwhelmed, and in need of a good vent. But, when you feel the need for a shoulder to cry on, do it with a good friend. Treat PTCs like an honest but straightforward business meeting with a co-manager where you’re plotting this year’s strategy. Because it is.
The Alligator Mom Teacher Kaye and her co-faculty uses this as a secret code for moms who drop off their kids (“See you later, alligator!”) and then pick them up hours after dismissal. Basically, they turn school into extended daycare--not just for emergencies, which can happen to anyone, but twice or thrice a week. Why it doesn’t work: You’re asking the teacher to take responsibility over your child even after work hours, and if she has an afternoon class she could be giving up her lunch. Teacher Ana recalls one case where she even had to share her baon with her hungry student. “I didn’t mind, pero nakakaawa ang bata! Pagod, inip, at gutom pa.”
The Know-It-All You know how some people will name-drop? This kind of mom fact-drops. She’ll find every chance to show off something she read--dispensing advice and even commenting on other kids. “You won’t believe the number of times moms have suggested that this or that student had special needs just from the five minutes they see them on the playground. Even a developmental pediatrician wouldn’t make an evaluation based on just that,” says Teacher Betsy. Or they use facts for Mom Shaming, sharing tips with the unspoken judgment: “I can’t believe you’re even doing that.” Like the mom at the PTC who was preaching the wonders of organic food and basically telling everyone who was listening that their lunchbox choices would triple their kids’ risk of cancer. That’s one way to kill the mood at a pizza party. Why it doesn’t work: Every child and every mom is unique, and the facts or tips that work for you may not actually be helpful or do-able for someone else. Share if you’re asked; listen if you’re not.
Dedet Reyes Panabi was editor-in-chief of a parenting magazine for seven years, and then quit to work from home and spend quality time with family and Netflix. She now works as a digital communications and social media manager for a multinational. (Or has her son described it on Career Day, “My mom’s on Facebook the whole day.”)