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Miss Manners: Is my kid’s school’s staff appreciation week too much?

Dear Miss Manners: My child’s school is having a staff appreciation week, which isn’t a bad idea for the efforts they put in and how they enhance our kids’ lives.

What strikes me as extremely gauche, however, is that it’s being organized and run by the school while asking parents the following:

  • First day: Send kind words/thanks.
  • Second day: Send sugary treats.
  • Third day: Buy something from their wish lists.
  • Fourth day: Staff members get a special Mexican luncheon while parents cover classroom duties. (Keep in mind that students have been trying to get the quality of the school’s food improved for months, while the staff claims there is no need. Students are sometimes not eating at all because of how bad they perceive the food to be.)
  • Fifth day: Send a teacher’s favorite snacks and drinks to stock their fridge.

This seems like the kind of thing parents should organize if they want to, not be pressured into by the school. If the administration wants to do it, they should fund it.

It comes across like: “Hey, aren’t we great? Buy us stuff and tell us how great we are!” Then they send reminders EVERY DAY. Tacky.

Do teachers and school staff deserve nice things? Yep. But this is not the way to go about it, in my opinion.

Agreed. No doubt, the school administration would love to have the parents step up and make up for the school’s obvious lack of funding. So if you do not like the school’s approach, Miss Manners suggests the way around it is to volunteer to be the parent organizer instead.

Aren’t you sorry you asked?

Dear Miss Manners: I called a member of a social group to follow up on a question. The matter was time-sensitive and needed to be resolved before the next morning, and it was the kind of thing that would be difficult to do in an email exchange.

The member and his wife are in their 80s, I believe. When I had called the night before, around the same time, the husband said they were eating dinner. I offered to call back, but he said no, and we spoke briefly.

It seems as if the older people get, the earlier they go to bed and the less they like being “disturbed” by calls in the evening. Maybe they eat and then want to cozy up and watch a movie. So in general, I try to call earlier rather than later.

Even if I say, “Am I interrupting your dinner?” (which he didn’t give me a chance to), it seems I would still be in the doghouse for not accurately guessing exactly when they eat. Any tips would be helpful.

Like … asking? “I seem to keep guessing wrong about the best time to reach you. In case I have any follow-up questions, when is generally a good time to call?”

Miss Manners further points out that you are doing all of this “old person” speculation and proposed doghouse arresting purely on your own. All your elderly friend did was say your call was perfectly all right.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on washingtonpost.com/advice. You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, missmanners.com. You can also follow her @RealMissManners.

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