I didn’t volunteer. I’m so over that. For the Kindergartners, there wasn’t a problem. All the 1st time parents get excited about each milestone, so there’s no dearth of volunteers. In one school we attended, fistfights actually broke out over the honor of being titled Room Parent (which is a stupid PC term. Have you ever had a Room Dad? I didn’t think so.) But by 4th grade, we’ve had our fill of wrapping mummy hotdogs, frosting multi-colored Christmas cookies and cutting Valentine’s hearts out of red fruit roll-ups. We’ve competed for Best Mother in the School and been found lacking. So, we quit en-masse. Which is why I got an email earlier this year. “Mrs. Mama? Um, no one else in the entire fourth grade volunteered to be room mother for any of the classes. So we were wondering if, um, you’d please do it again this year? Just for your daughter's class? Please? Or we’ll start crying?”
I was tempted to let the entire PTA burst into tears and film it as a documentary, but then I made a mistake. I showed weakness. They must have tried every alternative if my “minimalist” approach last year didn’t convince them to find someone else. And when they saw me falter, they moved in for the kill. They reminded me that I love kids when they’re at school parties.
They failed to remind me that I hate the parents. Actually, I haven’t had any problems with parents in my class. But I’ve had problems with other room mothers. Turn back the hands of time to the end-of-the year party for 3rd grade…
The 3rd grade teachers inform us 1 week before the end of school that they’d like all 3 classes to combine so that all the 3rd graders can play together. This means working with 2 other room moms. One of them is a good friend, so we had no problems, but the 3rd room mother? I’ll tell you now not to expect any Kumbaya moment. The 3rd RM turned out to be very caustic and dictatorial. She informed me that for our lunch we had to have hot dogs, boiled and kept warm in a crock pot. I started laughing and then realized she seriously thought I’d feed any living human being boiled and crock-potted hot dogs. I wouldn’t willingly feed them grilled hot dogs. I’m certainly not going to make them taste worse! I firmly suggested we each feed our kids in our own classrooms and combine for the games afterward. I had visions of a couple of optional crafts, a couple of optional games involving water, a lot of places for the kids to run around and play their random kid games. But, no, Caustic Room Mom informed me that there would be no crafts. The kids she gave birth to don’t like crafts.
“Fine,” I replied. “I have 9 girls in my classroom, all of whom love crafts. And several of the boys would spend hours gluing pom pons onto paper if we let them. I’ll do crafts for my group and if your kids want to join us, they’re welcome to do so.” She then informed me that she’d get some balls from the PE teacher and have them on the field. ‘Great,’ I thought. Kids like balls. They can come up with a lot of games with balls.
But on the day of the party, she tried to force my kids to participate in, hold your breath, Dodge Ball. Have we not progressed beyond that? And co-ed Dodge Ball? Why don’t we just paint targets on genitalia and give the kids loaded guns? She shot me an evil look when I told my kids, in front of her, that they could choose to play or not, whatever they felt like doing. I think a total of 3 boys from my class participated in her Stupid Game Plan. The girls sat on the ground and, true to form, began creating doll necklaces out of grass and weeds.
So, with joy and elation I greeted the news this year that Caustic Room Mom had agreed to parent a 4th grade class through their parties. We will, once again, be privileged to work side-by-side, if not eye-to-eye. I’m making plans for the end of the year party now. I’m going to train my group on Navy Seal tactics—by the time Dodge Ball becomes an issue, my kids will be able to sneak up on an opponent and blindside him before he even knows the 8 inch ball of death is coming. And as for food, I’m saving my entire budget to buy pizza, which I will have delivered to the field. If I can’t fight her, I’ll at least have the kids in her class so envious that they’ll be begging me to be their room mother next year.