by Wendy Sachs
Last year when my son Jonah asked me to be the class mom, I responded “but I’m your mom sweetie,” I don’t need to be the class mom. He was temporarily disappointed, but didn’t push the point. This year Jonah was adamant. “Mommy,” he announced at the end of August, “you will be the class mom this year…you MUST.”
Having your mom as Class Mom when you’re in third grade seems to carry elite status. It’s like being a hall monitor or on safety patrol, but better because your mom is ALWAYS in the classroom for the smorgasbord of events – events that often involve food.
So midway through last year, Jonah began plotting my move to become his Class Mom – the quintessential Queen Mama School Bee. Maybe he was motivated by first choice cupcakes at the end-of-the-month collective birthday parties or maybe he simply wanted to bask in the glow of my in-class presence, who knows. But the pressure was on and I didn’t want to let him down.
So I promised that this year to volunteer as class martyr and throw myself into the minutiae of mind numbing responsibilities like collecting Scholastic book order forms. I am not knocking the importance of the administrative efforts that must happen to make a classroom run smoothly, I just have no interest in doing them. And while I swear I am at the school for pretty much everything – or certainly everything that warrants an in-person visit, the class mom literally is there for EVERYTHING. Things frankly, I’ve chosen to avoid.
So believing that Jonah would feel more pride in my being his Class Mom than if I were to say win a Nobel Prize for eradicating the Swine Flu, I decided to suck it up and sign up. After all, how much longer will my son actually want to see me in his classroom?
What I didn’t realize was that this Class Mom thing had become super competitive. In past years at Back-To-School night a paper was passed around seeking volunteers. I would always push the paper to other desks mumbling softly so the other moms could hear and not think that I was shirking my duties something like, “I really wish I could, but I work full time.”
But this year, in a PTA reorganization effort, we were asked to apply for Class Mom with a one-page application sent out along with a ream of other back to school forms. The application outlined the responsibilities of the Class Mom which included phone call chains, teacher gifts, potential mid-morning/mid-day meetings and other activities that as they noted may not be conducive to a working mother. I signed the form thinking that I’ll just work it out as we go along. Let’s be honest, how many mid-morning meetings do I really need to be at?
Jonah, assuming that I was his Class Mom after I filled out the application, was overjoyed until I received an email notifying me that I was not chosen because of “mass interest” and instead I was awarded my “second choice” to be my younger daughter Lexi’s Class Mom.
But Lexi was not my second choice – not that I wouldn’t want to be her Queen Mama School Bee, but because Jonah would KILL me. The next three days continued with me emailing the designated PTA class parent operative who clearly has the unenviable job of dealing with irate moms who don’t get their proper class assignments. I explained my dilemma and a dozen emails later, the lovely PTA lady informed me that there was “good news” because Jonah’s teacher would be thrilled for me to volunteer and help with some of the paperwork in class.
Clearly, they didn’t understand my selfish intentions. I am not looking to fill my time during the day with paperwork, I just NEEDED to be at all of these in-class events where class parents can come but regular parents aren’t invited.
So I declined both positions, as Lexi’s class mom and as Jonah’s special volunteer. I’ve promised Jonah that next year I will be his Class Mom, even if that means I have to bribe the PTA parent chair for the position. But before I take out my checkbook, I’m secretly hoping Jonah will change his mind. After all, safety patrol is way cool too.