1. Make sure you have your child’s teacher’s cell phone number so you can text them any time of the day or night. You never know when issues will arise over issues ranging from homework instruction terminology and definition of terms (“fact families, “missing addends”) to subliminal acts of shunning and regressional bullying (“Olivia moved away from my daughter at lunchtime”) which may need to be addressed.
2. Volunteer in the classroom! It’s so rewarding to work with a group of children week after week. Volunteer work also gives you an “in’’ with the administration, giving you greater control over the seating chart. (Note: You may refer to unsavory children as DUDS only to your trusted friends.)
3. Drive on school field trips. This is the best way to guarantee that your child is safe, and make sure your son and daughter are not seated with DUDS.
4. Keep the lines of communication open with other parents. If your child is upset with another child, it’s important for you to articulate those feelings directly, especially if such articulations lead to the expulsion of DUDS from your child’s classroom.
5. Run for PTA president. If nothing else, this position of the authority will help you ferret out essential information, such as the time and money that other parents commit to the school. The relentless pursuit of such knowledge will provide a focus as well as an outlet for your free-floating anger and resentment.
6. Help with the school play. The randomness of pulling names out of a hat for parts teaches children about fairness. But, if you are behind the curtains at rehearsals, you can volunteer your child to take on any additional roles that might become available! What better way to teach your child the importance of creating your own luck.
7. Work your connections to discover the names of the most sought-after music and language teachers as well as tutors. Sign exclusive contracts. Lock them in. Sign-up sheets are for chumps.
8. Befriend your child’s BFF’s parents to forestall unwanted social interactions. We are strongest when we have close friends that we trust, especially when these friendships help us screen against DUDS. Such safety measures cannot, of course, ensure against our children’s unpleasant future interactions with DUDS in college, in post-doctoral fellowships, or in the offices of hedge-fund management corporations and consulting firms, but at least we can create a protective chrysalis, or invisible carapace (use any metaphor that suits you) around our children’s existences NOW, encasing every moment of this fleeting, precious time of their lives.