Wednesday, September 3, 2008

I Are Room Mom Now?

(Edit: My newer post with MUCH more info about Room Mom stuff is here.)

Last week I went to Curriculum Night in Laura's classroom, and afterwards another mom and I were chatting with Mrs. S, the teacher. Mrs. S looked at me and said, "You were the only person to volunteer to be a Co-Room Mom, and nobody volunteered to be Room Mom, so I guess that makes you the Room Mom."

I sort of smiled, trying to keep my expression open, yet non-committal, while encouraging her to elaborate, while trying to look like I might know what the heck she was talking about. Reader, we sent a bunch of forms to school, and I am 99% sure that I did not check the little box that said I wanted to be a Co-Room parent. I checked several other boxes, saying that I wanted to help with reading groups, be a Mystery Reader, and help organize the parties, but I would not have volunteered to be Co-Room Parent, much less Room Parent, because right on the form it says, "When volunteering in the classroom and working with students, the school respectfully requests that other arrangements are made for younger siblings." And see, I have Mr. Hank, my two year-old man friend I take everywhere. Mr. Hank, he don't want no "other arrangements."

So I sort of stammered brightly, and while I was doing that, Mrs. S went on to explain that she is very low-maintenance, and that if I will just coordinate with the parents of the birthday kids each month about the class celebration, and make and maintain the schedule of parent volunteers every week, then the big class Christmas and End of the Year parties are not really any trouble because there are only two, and plenty of people want to help with those. And also, she likes it if they have a seasonal craft every month or so, but nothing too complicated.

When crafts were mentioned, the other mom came to life and allowed as how she had been a preschool teacher and had a spare bedroom filled with kid art supplies. Now, I can do crafts, but it's certainly not where my star shines the brightest, so I turned to her and said, "Please be in charge of crafts." (She didn't positively commit right then, but I'm going to email her into submission.)

So I don't know what happened in there, but somehow I wound up agreeing to do it, or more accurately, pretending that I had volunteered. That woman is persuasive. But when Laura brought home the volunteer forms filled out by all of the parents, for me to collate and make into volunteer schedules, my form was not in the pile, I think because it did not have the little box by Co-Room Parent checked. Hmmm.

I'm not worried about the official duties, though I have a lot going on and don't relish another administrative task, but what gives me pause are all the "unofficial" things that Mrs. S wasn't telling me, probably because a lot of it involves buying her gifts. Last year's Room Mom, who should have been running General Motors, collected a donation from all the families, then sent out an Excel spreadsheet detailing our contributions (anonymously, of course) and what they would be spent on--mainly party slush fund and teacher gifts. So I feel I need a crash course in all the unofficial or unspoken Rules of the Room Parent. Anyone have any experience with this?

There's a meeting of all Room Parents (who are we kidding, let's just say moms) next week. So maybe I'll get briefed. But I would love to hear any tips or cautionary tales. If I am going to do it, I don't want to screw it up and be lackluster, you know? Help?

(This has been a post for DOES NOT Work For Me Wednesday.)


Carolina Mama said...

Not clear if you want to do it or not - my "sound advice" is if you do not want to do it , the excells, Mr. Hank, etc. Do not do it! Make it clear you will do the parties, etc. and not have the rest of the school needs added on during the year! :)

Trust me!

Jane said...

Oh boy. I was a teacher at a school where competition for room mom was pretty fierce. My duties weren't nearly as involved as those. A field trip and two parties. You have the gift thing right though. That is how they do it in suburbia. (I now teach in the ghetto and don't get gifts. I was surprised to discover too that I don't miss it at all. It was always a bit awkward.)

Just be honest about the stuff you don't get. You will meet an experienced room mom to help you and possibly you will discover a person who grooves on the gift and just delegate that part. There are plenty of moms who do groove on knowing who gave how much etc...

Beth said...

That's alot of work! Guilt some other moms into doing the stuff you don't want to. And let Teacher know that your little "man friend" will always be with you. Maybe she'll find someone else, lol. Good luck ;)

Lecia said...

Wow! You handled that well (and very funny recounting of the story - can't wait to read it to my husband). Something similar happened to me with becoming a preschool auction chair last year; wish I had just said no. I would recommend deciding whether you are really up for it, telling her if not, and like carolina said, if you do it be very clear about what you'll do and not do. Good luck!

Becky said...

Thanks ladies! I am feeling kind of conflicted. I do want to do it, or a lot of it, and I think I should be able to do it on top of everything else. Have some more mom guilt? Yes, please!

So I think you guys are right. I'm just going to be specific about what I'll do and what we need to enlist other moms to do. I hate the idea of doing a $$ collection, so maybe there really are people who groove on that, as Jane said. LOL.

Bren said...

You are now in possession of the volunteer forms, right? So what you do is call another mom and say "I see you have "coordinate gifts" checked on your form that'd be great, so you can get started right on that thanksomuchbye" and you just go down the line with all the duties that need to be doled out. That is a totally slick 'volunteer rodeo' move that teacher did. Use it.

Becky said...

That's a good idea, Bren. I am going to cowboy up and do some delegatin' this week.

MeganP said...

I found a great website that has helpful hints for being a room mom (i.e. sample room parent letters, check list for meeting with the teacher)