Jane The Virgin Teaches Petra And Jane Some New Parenting Lessons About Dragons, Scissors, And More
A political campaign is just one battleground from which our new moms emerge wiser in 'Chapter Fifty-Eight'!
Jane The Virgin returns from a few weeks off by taking us back to a moment of crisis for both the mothers of Rafael's children: when he exited the scene to serve his prison term. At the time, Petra -- who had only very recently bonded with her twins -- was terrified that, left on her own with them, she'd ruin them, while the eminently assured and competent Jane promised her that things would be fine and Petra would rise to the occasion.
Three years later, the perfect mom scales have tipped the other way.
When Mateo asks Jane why she's hardly ever at school -- and doesn't accept her explanation that she works, since Petra does too, and she's at school all the time -- Jane decides to seize the opportunity presented by the change of semester and volunteers to be Room Mom. This brings her in conflict with Petra, the incumbent Room Mom, and when Gwen, the school director, suggests that the two of them share the office, the trouble begins. The show's other main moms spend this episode keeping busy dealing with their relationship issues: Alba, who's just learned Jorge's broken up with his girlfriend and lets Xo give her a sexy makeover that leads to his asking Alba out. Meanwhile, Xo tries to ignore her lack of excitement about her engagement to Bruce, but hearing that Ro's figured out he's fulfilled enough by his relationship with "Matelio" not to consider having more kids of his own to be a dealbreaker anymore leads her to break things off with Bruce. But as those plots develop in the background, Jane and Petra's latest battle helps them each learn some important lessons about parenting. Let's run them down in the order they occur!
- Jane Learns Not To Leave Scissors Within Reach Of A Four-Year-Old
It's time for Mateo to start getting to know his new school aide, Alex!
Alex's chill attitude -- rather than hear Jane's version of Mateo's issues, Alex would rather work with him without preconceptions for a while and reach his own conclusions -- does not immediately mesh with Jane's Type A intensity, but when he suggests that she try to ignore Mateo's negative behaviours rather than reward him with attention, she accepts the challenge. And a challenge it certainly is with this weirdo.
Rather than criticize Mateo's unorthodox method of "cleaning" the sink during his lice check, Jane changes the subject, offering to let him check her for lice when she's through with him.
Tough lesson, but I bet Jane keeps the scissors in the cupboard from now on!
- Jane And Petra Both Learn That Group Work Always Sucks
Trying to please Gwen, Jane and Petra meet to divide up the Room Mom tasks. Unfortunately for Jane, since Petra's already been doing this for a while, she's already taken a pass at the list and assigned herself all the "glory work," leaving Jane with such dregs as photocopying programs for an upcoming concert (while Petra MCs it) or setting up traffic cones in the parking lot while Petra greets arriving families. Jane pushes back -- calmly at first, but soon with an intimate knowledge of Petra's triggers, as when she disputes Petra's decision to hire a parking attendant when they could just use parent volunteers instead: "I'm just saying that it is possible to deal with a kids' issue without just hiring help." Petra and Jane return to Gwen to tell her that the co-Room Mom experiment has failed, and that they'd prefer to face each other in a run-off than spend one more second pretending they have the capacity to be collegial. (I'm paraphrasing.)
- Jane Learns That She Might Be Raising A Future Style Guru
After Jane and Petra campaign with the moms around the playground -- Jane noting Petra's practice of assigning high cubbies to her friends so they don't have to bend down and suggesting a rotation system; Petra handing out
bribescoupons for the Marbella spa -- they're confronted by their children's latest artwork.
Alex points out that Mateo seems to think she should lean in to the edgy undercut he gave her, so she does -- and gets a barista's phone number out of it! (Xo encourages her to keep signaling the world that she might not actually have "cobwebs down there," but Jane reminds her that she's not supposed to think about dating anyone until she's able to get through the story of Michael's death without crying; as of her big reading a few episodes ago, she's not there.)
- Petra Learns That Her Daughters Might Think She's A Hulking, Fire-Breathing Monster
Petra also gets to see how she appears to her children, based on a new portrait!
When so much of her self-esteem now resides in her maternal perfection, seeing that at least one of her daughters see her as a dragon is a shock.
- Petra Learns That She's Still Insecure About Her Status Relative To Jane's
Still shook by the dragon portrait, Petra pouts to Rafael that she knows she won't have his vote in the Room Mom election: "You've always been on Jane's side. Since you met her." Rafael tries to remind her that KIND OF A LOT has changed between them since then, but when he adds that he'll be abstaining from the vote out of fairness to both the mothers of his children, she's not quite mollified.
- Petra Learns That "Dragon Lady" Isn't Always A Pejorative
After Jane crashes a tea Petra happened to throw for some of the class moms at a time she knew Jane would be working and the two of them put all their personal business in the street attacking each other -- Petra hitting Jane with Mateo's behavioral issues; Jane bringing up the dragon drawing -- Petra vents to Rafael about her fear, represented by the picture, that she hasn't come as far with the girls as she thought. Rafael explains that the girls got the idea from him: "They think you're a dragon because last week when they were having nightmares, I told them they had nothing to be scared of because they live with the fiercest woman I know. You protect everyone around you, like a dragon....That's how I see you." I mean, maybe call her Wonder Woman next time? Still, it's sweet.
- Jane And Petra Both Learn That Room Mom Is A Retrograde Position
After Rogelio makes Jane realize that Mateo shouldn't dictate how much she participates at school since, you know, he's four, and of course he's going to say he wants her to do whatever will let her spend more time with him and Petra admits to Rafael that she hates being Room Mom, both women try to hand off the job to the other before admitting the truth...and arriving simultaneously at the same epiphany as to how to solve the problem.
"What I want is to end this stupid rivalry about parenting," Jane tells Petra. "Come on, it's hard enough!" Amen...and yet I somehow don't quite believe that this is the very end of these women's insecurity about each other.
- Jane Learns That All Her Life's Dramas Haven't Destroyed Mateo
At the end of his first week of observation, Alex sits down with Jane and Rafael and report on his findings, which are that Mateo is pretty hyperactive, so Alex is going to work on slowing down and making smart choices. He now gives Jane the opportunity to tell him Mateo's history, so she tells the story of Mateo's stepfather's unexpected death three years earlier.
Rafael can't help pointing out to Jane that she just got through the story of Michael's death without crying; Jane takes a beat to mark the moment before turning back to Alex: "So he's had some trauma." Alex tells her that, while he's sorry for what Jane has gone through, Mateo shows no signs of trauma. This is Rafael's cue to disclose his prison term to Alex, and share his worry that Mateo might have abandonment issues as a result. But Alex says he hasn't discerned that either: "Dude, you're his hero."
Tears of relief all around! Rafael still has to face another setback before the day is over: not only do the cops have Scott's burn book, courtesy of Rafael's ex Abby, but they're up in arms about a missing page, which Petra turns out to have excised because it was about Rafael and Emilio...
...but the further proof of Petra's fierceness in protecting the people she loves moves him to an emotional reaction that's somewhat less tearful. (Evidently Petra's last parenting lesson for the episode is a refresher course on how much fun it is to "make babies" with Rafael.)