The truth about being a room mom

Today on the Facebooks, I witnessed a conversation where a woman in a far away place had a problem that didn't concern me so I chimed in with my two cents. It went over well*. She wanted to know what was up with the PTA room mom from her kid's class soliciting money for parties and teacher gifts. Granted, it was kind of a hefty sum, but I felt the need to defend room moms because I saw this:

room moms

I'm a room mom at two schools, so dealing with over 70 parents, 37 kids, four teachers and two sets of protocol, I'm kind of the HBIC of room momming. Thus, I feel qualified to field a few questions on behalf or room moms everywhere.

1. How did you get to be the room mom in the first place? Does it suck or are you, like, queen of the class?

A. Dude, no one else ever wants to do it, so I just asked. It is my goal to be that parent in the classroom all the time (I didn't get enough love in my childhood, like Roxie Hart!) and since I don't work outside the home, I can. It's not like it's a paid job or super fun to get on the ass of other parents. Get this - this week I have to round up five adults to buy pilgrim costumes and dress like pilgrims. Dress like pilgrims. Try being the one driving that train off the tracks. So, yes, it sucks sometimes but I do it for my kids' happiness. And for free rides in the gilded litter.

2. Why is the rent so damn high?

A: If what you mean to ask is, "Who sets the per-family suggested donation amount?" the answer is, hell if I know. It usually comes down from the PTA and/or the previous room mom. I assume the precedent was set the day the school opened back in old timey times and just think how much $35 was back then. Teachers must have been like presidents. In short, room moms don't collect money from you to be dicks. We are tasked with keeping track of it though and spending it on classroom holiday and end-of-year gifts. Luckily, I love spreadsheets.

If you think your room mom is a shifty-faced bandit, then ask to see her records. Maybe her raisin-hauling/craft-supply-cutting persona is all a scheme to turn a coin from the unsuspecting pockets of her public school brethren. Also, you may opt out of the donation altogether. Legally speaking. Ahem.

3. I thought public school was supposed to be free. Do you have any particular theories you'd like to share as to why parental involvement and contribution is so crucial to having a good school?

A: Why yes! With most states slashing education budgets, schools are left in a lurch. The arts, field trips and the salaries of quality educators are sliced out of the pie. Unless you want your kid to tread water in a sea of standardized tests and grumpy personnel, the burden falls on the parents to ensure all of those things are supported. A school is only as good as the community who stands behind it. Sadly, this is why many kids don't get a quality education. The teachers can only do so much. Without involved parents who make education the number one priority, the kids are screwed. And seriously, it's public school. Open your damn wallet.

4. What's up with the parties going overboard sometimes? Why can't we just spill some candy corn on the tables and let the kids color for an hour?

A. I know. When we were kids, it seems like we traced our hand to make a turkey and then we all went home, but now Thanksgiving is a real, live reenactment of the pilgrims' early days. Well. Minus all that stuff about genocide on the original people, but that's what college is for. Anyway, there is a lot of suckage in the room mom game, but seeing the kids have fun at the parties makes the other 90% of it (organizing fundraisers, chaperoning, wearing the ugmo school shirt) worth it. Let us have our fun. YOU LOVE CANDY TOO. Just let us have our parties and bask in the glory that you didn't have to haul 90 pounds of raisins from CostCo.

5. But fifty bucks on top of every other fee and field trips and crap I pay for is too much right? Fifty bucks? Come on Jenna, answer this question about a school you know nothing about in a town you've never been to.

A. Totally.

6. Are you dirty whores?

A. Only sometimes.

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*Some rando name Matt called me a whore. He didn't mean it.

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