Recent events led me to think back over the years that my kids were in elementary school and the reasons that I stopped signing up to help with school parties. As I thought about it, it struck me that it could be helpful to current or prospective room parents and teachers to know my experience.
I began by signing up for parties, donations, etc., but t didn’t take long before I was thoroughly disgusted by the whole group running the show. Why?
If you watch The Middle, you may remember when Mike failed to use a pen on the sign up sheet and thus had his name erased. I used a pen. It didn’t matter. The Christmas party was just a few days away and I hadn’t been contacted yet, although I had signed up to bring a sweet snack and drinks. I got out the class list and made a call, only to find out that the room moms had bumped me to a different holiday and a different category.
Strike one. The room moms probably assumed I wouldn’t mind. I did. I have three kids, and signed up for things carefully so that each class event I volunteered anything for was a different date from the other two I needed to sign up for. I wrote the sign-ups in my calendar to keep track. If you need to switch someone on your sign up sheet, at least call them and ask if it’s okay to do so.
Strike two came when I was asked to bring special napkins for a holiday party. I don’t normally purchase the cute stuff. You’re wiping the crud off of your face with them. Plain old white does that the same as any other. But, it was for the kids so I bit the bullet and got the cute napkins. They came home unopened, with a note that the class already had napkins, so they just used those.
Strike three was when I was asked to provide pickles and olives for a class picnic. The jars came home barely touched. I wanted to make an actual contribution to these events, not a token gesture.
By this time, I was finished with all forms of signing up/volunteering. Then came the email from a room mom who was campaigning for United Way donations. I promptly wrote back to let her know that using the class list in this manner was highly inappropriate. The class list is meant for school-related use, not marketing.
So if you are a room parent, coordinater, or teacher, please remember that parents are real live people who have schedules, often more than one child, and lives that don’t completely revolve around one child’s class activities. Some are like me and will stop helping.