1. Volunteer first for classroom parties. You get to bring the napkins.
2. Arrive for slumber party pickups 5-10 minutes late. Parents are over it, small talk is done and your kid's bags will be packed and on the curb.
3. Never answer a phone call from a vague parental acquaintance unless you know the caller's intentions. 94.7% concern volunteer "opportunities."
4. Go ahead and correct kids visiting your house if they're acting like jerks. Most children are surprisingly receptive, and they won't hold grudges.
5. If you are a stay-at-home parent, avoid saying out loud that you are a stay-at-home parent. These words morph mid-air, entering administrative ears as "I am looking for a full-time, unpaid job with your school!"
6. If you are a working parent, avoid saying out loud that you are a working parent. These words morph mid-air, entering administrative ears as "I am looking to fill evenings and weekends baking and sewing with the zeal of Ma from Little House on the Prairie!"
7. Establish early and reinforce often your reputation as "helper," rather than "chair." Make frequent use of words like "procrastinator," "distracted," and "peri-menopausal" when describing yourself.
8. Be the one to initiate carpooling. You'll appear organized while nabbing the shift most convenient to you.
9. Ask about your kid's day. They'll usually say "fine," but sometimes they'll say, "I like loupes. They look like tiny top hats," or, "Every picture in my Spanish book is of people wearing turtlenecks."
10. Kiss teenagers when you wake them up for school. They're too tired to protest, and it may be your only chance all day.
11. Check every single morning to see if your teenagers brushed their teeth. Yes, they spent 72 minutes in the bathroom wetting down a cowlick. They still didn't brush their teeth.
12. Anyone who judges what goes in a Friday school lunchbox is a monster.
13. Even if you argue with them all the way to school, tell them you love them when they get out of the car. They'll roll their eyes or slam the door, but they'll know it's the only permanent thing.