I’m not normally perceived as shy or quiet. But then many would probably say I’m not really “normal” to begin with. Normal, schnormal. Just what does that mean, anyway, other than different things to different people? Truth be told, don’t you think many of us are afraid of being found out, fearful of the rejection that our real selves, exposed Entertainment Tonight-style, might bring?

I’m convinced that’s why a million and one absolutely fantabulous ideas never come to fruition in our respective organizations. First, because the idea holder never comes to a PTO meeting out of reluctance to put herself “out there” for ridicule. And second, because those gathered round the table don’t speak from their hearts for fear of the consequences. Which could be good or bad, or neither, or both! Precisely why I go ahead and lay it on the line, because to me not knowing is worse than knowing everybody thought my idea was as lame as a three-legged horse and therefore was immediately put out to pasture.

Between you and me, what scares me most about speaking up is not being heard. Or maybe even worse still is being heard but not understood.

There was this one time in particular that my gut kept urging me to c’mon, say something. But dang it, I didn’t want to be the bad guy. I like being liked, you see, and nobody was going to like what I had to say. I had to say it, of course, because I like sleeping at night.

I put the matter to rest in the cushy back room of my mind until Cindy called the meeting to order. I began my mental gymnastics program as we tumbled through the agenda. I must have audibly gulped when the request for new business was announced, because everybody was looking at me. Or maybe they were just looking in my general direction, but I took that as my cue to forge onward.

“Excuse me, Madame President,” I said shakily. “I, uh, have something. Well, I don’t know if you’d call it, um, new business, but I, ahem, I think it’s a matter we should discourse, I mean, discuss.” I’m sure I was as red as the jerseys of my favorite football team.

“Yes, Brenda?” New business as usual.

“Well, now, don’t get me wrong”—and just why was I apologizing when I hadn’t even said anything “bad” yet?—"but I personally don’t think Bronco Spirit Day is a good idea in an elementary school.”

If everyone wasn't looking at me before, all attention was certainly mine now.

“I mean,” hoping I could indeed express what I meant, “not everybody in Colorado is a Denver Broncos fan, or a football fan, period, for that matter. I like college ball myself but wouldn’t expect y’all to sport a big ‘N,’ even though I bleed Cornhusker red.”


“I know how beloved the Broncos are in these parts—boy, do I know—but I don’t think pro football needs our endorsement. Besides, won’t kids who don’t own any orange and blue paraphernalia feel left out?”

The discussion that ensued assured me that the special day would stand but also that my food for thought was appreciated. The matter was reported in the minutes and I endured a bit of teasing about being a non-Broncos fan, but I also got some great support from several teachers who said they found such activities distracting. And ever since, student council has focused its energies on more all-encompassing endeavors, like Crazy Hair Day.

I’m not saying it was because of me; I’m just saying follow that wild hair of yours. You’d be crazy not to.

Brenda Rader Mross is a veteran parent group volunteer in Wellington, Colo.