Give Me Your Money

Posted: September 28th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Bad Mom Moves, Drink, Friends and Strangers, Miss Kate, Money, Other Mothers, Parenting | 1 Comment »

I’m a sucker for a compliment. Like last year, a friend emailed me saying she needed someone like me—”a responsible person with a dynamic personality”—to do her a favor.

Responsible? Dynamic? Aw, shucks. Before even reading what she wanted, I was in.

Turns out she needed someone to round up some folks and get them on a bus to the farm where she was getting hitched. The task required a firm but friendly approach. The ability to work with old and young alike. It called for one part charm, one part organization. It’s like the gig was custom-made for me.

I shot her back an email. “When do I start? And do I get to carry a clipboard?”

So it was not surprising last spring when I got an email from the Development Director at Kate’s school, and responded like I did. They needed a “captain” for Kate’s classroom. Someone to be a liaison between the parents and the Board of Directors for the annual fund-raising drive.

“So many people have told me you’d be perfect for this,” she wrote.

What could I say to that? I mean, other than, “I’m your gal!”

It wasn’t ’til a few weeks ago when our first meeting was announced that I wondered how I got reeled into this role. Did the Development Director really hear I’d be great? Or had she sent the same message to four other people before me? People who were smart enough to not take the bait.

I decided that she must have been sincere. That it was my winning personality that got me into this. Into what some might find an unenviable role.

While I got ready to head out to my first meeting, Kate stood by the sink to chat. With a toothbrush sticking out of my mouth I explained to her what the fund-raising committee does. “All the cool classes [brush brush brush] like wood shop and Spanish [spit!] and music, and movement [brush brush]—I’m helping raise money for [spit!]. You know [wipe mouth with towel], to make sure you can still have those classes [peer into mirror, fluff hair].”

Oooh,” said Kate, pondering. “Well Mama, I hope you raise one… hundred and… fifty-five dollars!”

“Thanks, kiddo,” I said kissing her head and slinging my purse over my shoulder. Walking out the door I thought, ‘God help me if that’s all I can do.’

But thankfully, I’ve put some thought into this whole fund-raising thing. Even if traditional approaches don’t work, I’ve come up with some innovative ideas. You know, I’m thinkin’ outside the box.

Like, I figured I can volunteer as a car-door opener. Some parents help do this in the mornings in front of the school. It’s like drive-thru fast food meets private education. You pull up and don’t even have to get out of your car. Someone just opens your back door and yanks out your kid and their over-sized backpack.

I figure if I volunteer I could peer in at the parent drivers and say things like, “Nice new Mercedes, Jim! Things at the bank must certainly be going well for you. Have you thought about what you’re giving to the school this year?”

Alternately, people with crappy cars (like mine) must be saving money by not indulging in German automotive technology, right? “You’re certainly not throwing money away on fancy cars,” I can bellow to the driver as I use one hand to extricate their child. “Get a tax break! Bust into that nest egg you’ve been hoarding and make a fat donation to the school!”

I can see it now. People will be pulling over to dig out their checkbooks (I’ll have a pen handy) to make dazzlingly impressive donations on the spot. (Which may, I realize, cause a traffic jam. But really, in the end won’t it be worth it when those spiffy new xylophones arrive in the Music Room?)

I’ve also been scripting a few lines about donations based in direct correlation with the size of women’s engagement-ring diamonds. “What’s that there, Sheila? Two carats? Two-and-a-half?” I’ll purr admiringly. “You must have some moula you can shake free for the school, no?”

I can’t wait to share these guerrilla fund-raising tactics with the committee. I think they’re really quite brilliant. And to think, I never even went to business school! I was just an English major!

Last year I rallied the moms in Kate’s classroom to go out for drinks one night. Even deep into the school year there were so many mamas I’d barely gotten to know. Birthday parties and playdates are fun and all, but it’d be nice to hang out without kids demanding our attention. And with wine.

So this year I decided to start early. Back to School Night was last week. Mark was in Australia for work, so I needed a sitter. I figured I’d make good use of her services and go out for une petite drinkie after the meeting.

So I emailed the moms in Kate’s class—would anyone like to join me? Let’s tack a little socializing onto the end of a school meeting. Let’s let our hair down a bit. Let’s tie one on, sisters, free and unfettered, without our little ones (or even spouses) nipping at our heels. What better way to kick off the school year?

But I didn’t have everyone’s email addresses. Kate’s in a K-1 combo class and I didn’t know the new kindergarten mamas’ emails. So I promised I’d track those women down later. But if anyone knew how to reach them, please forward my email along.

And what a night we had! Fast forward to me, ravaged senseless by gin and showing off my C-section scar at the restaurant. Then later, the moms of Room 2 went all Coyote Ugly—dancing on the bar in an act of drunken homo-erotic bacchanalia. It was off the hook!

Okay, okay… so those things really didn’t happen. Our outing for drinks was lovely, but not wild by any means. Sure, we considered jetting off to Vegas on the fly at one point, but the idea never really took off. In fact, it was what happened in planning to go out that makes up this here story.

Because one of the moms forwarded my email to the group list the teacher uses. A perfectly reasonable thing to do. So ALL the parents in the classroom got it—not just the mamas. This may or may not have left some dad’s feeling left out. Which certainly was not my intention. But I fear that some papas were wondering why they couldn’t come and booze it up too.

The emails started flowing. A handful of women “would love to join.” Others were checking with their better halves to make sure they could slip away. One mama suggested a tiki bar that’s in staggering distance of her house. Another said, “as long as they have wine” she’s in.

Then one brave dad spearheaded the retaliatory drinking brigade. “Why don’t the fathers get together for a beer too?” He summoned an opposition party of wounded left-out daddies. It was a decided “if you can’t join ‘em, beat ‘em” approach. And even though I could have offered for us to all go out together, it seemed apparent that we were well past that.

Oh it was lively. It was interesting. My small idea was certainly taking on dimensions I never anticipated.

I was suddenly envisioning Back to School Night in a new light—all us parents wedged into small wooden seats in the classroom, moms on one side, dads sitting across the room separately, sneering.

Hell, the way this was unfolding I was maybe going to have to host a pre-party so everyone could loosen up a bit before the meeting. You know, some kind of tailgate in the elementary school parking lot. I mean, there wouldn’t be any drugs or anything. But you know, maybe a few pony kegs. A tray of Jell-O shots. And maybe some of the sensitive new-aged dads would get into the spirit and arrive in face and body paint—in the school colors, of course—like some misdirected, intellectual Oakland Raiders fans.

All I’m saying is I’d be open to seeing that.

At the end of Day One: The Happy Hour Email Incident, the two room parents and I got a note from the teacher. She kindly cautioned us not to use the group email she’d set up. Turns out she’d also been getting everyone’s responses throughout the day. And although she was chuckling about it, several other teachers let her know that they’d been getting the emails too.

Yes, my innocent let’s-grab-a-drink-together invitation—and everyone’s RSVPs, commentaries, and alternate plan suggestions—were being sent TO EVERY TEACHER AND ADMINISTRATOR IN THE SCHOOL.

Um… oops!

Yes, the next morning an official email went out to the entire school community outlining the Dos and Don’ts of the school’s group email lists. And it encouraged us to set up our own email lists.

Message received.

Oddly, a few hapless fathers continued to respond to the all-call for Dad Drinks throughout the day. “Wish I could, but I’m traveling for work!” “Sure, beer’s always good!”"Catch you guys next time for sure!” [Wince.]

On Back to School night one of the teachers—a sweet, funny guy who I adore—whispered in my ear as I walked into the room, “We’ll keep this quick, Kristen. We know you have some drinking to do.”


Another mom informed me that some school staffers were now referring to Room 2 as The Drunk Tank. Greeeeeat.

Yes, it’s all hideously embarrassing. But the way I figure it, Kate’s only got four years left at that school. And Paige starts there the year after next. So hopefully in the seven years before she graduates my reputation as the Boozey Rabble-Rouser Mommy will have waned some.

But in the meantime, I want to humbly say to all the teachers, administrators, moms, and dads whose feelings I may have hurt or whom I otherwise annoyed, “I was wondering if you might be interested in writing a nice big check to the school.”

1 Comment »

One Comment on “Give Me Your Money”

  1. 1 Jeff said at 11:43 am on September 28th, 2011:

    I think the theme song for this blog entry should be Sade’s ‘Smooth Operator’

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