Friday, December 21, 2007

the room parent from hell

As usual, I'm a Room Parent this year. The only thing that varies normally is which kid's class I'm room parent for. This is Gumby's year, since he's a sixth grader and this is his last year of Elementary school. Next year (and last year) belongs to Surfer Dude. I've learned the hard way that once you have a child go into Junior and Senior High the opportunities are pretty limited, so I try to have my fun while I can. I was room parent for Sasquatch more times than I can count. One year, in a moment of true insanity, I was room parent for all three of them the same year. Not one of my brighter moves.

The duties are pretty much the same no matter the grade. There are parties to organize, parents to hit up to bring food and provide entertainment and, in sixth grade, a graduation/recognition ceremony at the end of the year. But even though the basic job has stayed the same, it isn't nearly as easy as it used to be.

Witness the politically correct times we live in. There are three classroom parties during the school year - the Fall Party, the Winter Party and the Spring Party, or, as they were known in the dark ages, the Halloween Party, the Christmas Party and the Valentine's Day Party. Used to be at a party you could bring party food - kid style - like cupcakes, cookies and punch. That's all verboten now, since the decree has been made that only healthy snacks can be served at school, even for celebrations. I understand this logic perfectly, since nothing says Halloween to a kid like celery sticks. And on February 14th, the day we can't call Valentine's Day, passing out apple slices makes perfect sense. Would you like some tap water to wash that down, kids? Some gruel? A wooden spoon?

I'm really cranky about this right now because I've been completely hung out to dry by the parents in Gumby's class and I'm basically having to provide the whole party myself. Yeah, yeah, I know it's a busy time of year, people, and as soon as I get my butt off the sofa and wipe the bonbon juice off my hands I'll look for my violin to serenade you and your busy life. It's times like this when the whole PC thing really gets on my nerves. I can do one healthy snack that the kids will like, but I don't think I can do a whole party of them. Not effortlessly, anyway. Sadly, I can pull a junk food party out of my butt in about three minutes flat. Two if I buy the food already made.

And the games are a challenge, too. I'm planning on playing Pictionary on the chalkboard. I'll divide them into teams and have them pick cards to see what they have to draw for their teammates to guess at. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to come up with twenty or thirty different things to draw that have nothing to do with a holiday, be it Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or anything else I may be forgetting? I have snowmen, sledding, ice fishing (!!), skating and sixteen others, but I need more. Bells? Nope. Can't use them. Could be religious. Reindeer? You have to be kidding. The Grinch? Come on. A menorah? Santa? A candy cane? No, no and no again.

I've basically said to hell with it with the food. Tonight Surfer Dude and I made peppermint fudge and chocolate kiss pretzels. I'll take a big bowl of apple caramel popcorn and a couple of gallons of apple juice. And call it a day. Pretzels are healthy. So is popcorn. But you can't tell me that at least half of these kids (if not more) won't eat more unhealthily at the school provided lunch they eat tomorrow before the party. (You know, the lunches I won't let my kids touch with a ten foot pole).

I understand not setting up these things so entire groups of people feel excluded, and I understand that as a nation our kids are growing immense. But it's one day. One party. Before a two week break. And they are bouncing off the walls already.

Could we just lighten up a little bit?


Kaycie said...

I wish you were my home room parent. I'd be there with bells on, helping you corrupt the wholesome, healthy party. No one has even called me to help once this whole year.

The only thing I've been asked to do is shelve books at the library. What the hell is up with that?

ped crossing said...

You can come be room parent in my classroom. We don't have one. Our parents just don't wanna.

My students are getting Pepperidge Farm cookies, hot chocolate and an orange. And then making gingerbread (graham cracker) houses. And don't think they won't eat half the candy on the table. Don't get me started on the whole PC thing.

Willowtree said...

Talk about sucking all the fun out of life!

When I saw "I can pull a junk food party out of my butt in about three minutes flat" I thought to myself, "What's the big deal then? Whether it's a junk food party or a celery stick party, either way the food's gonna taste like shit"

Stacie said...

Wanna come be my room parent? I so need someone like you. And I would totally overlook any unhealthy food you would bring, I promise!

It is sad how the new regulations take away the fun of class parties. We can't even bring home made goodies any more. All of the food our kids eat has to be store/professionally packaged (so we don't kill 'em with some kind of food poisoning or something). And they have to be nutritional. Of course, parties have to be tied to the curriculum in some way or you can't have them in the first place. How is that for sucking the big one?

I have to add that Willowtree's comment almost made me spit out my drink. Too funny!

Potty Mummy said...

One of my boys has nut allergy, so I guess taking care with the food makes sense to me. However. It's (say it quietly) CHRISTMAS for goodness sake.

Let's not pretend that these children aren't going to be stuffing themselves with chips and candy (like the Americanisms there? By rights I shoulc have crisps and sweets...) for the next 3 weeks. Who are we kidding? It's the parents who should be taking responsibility for what they eat AT HOME, not the school at one meal.

Rant over.


Aoj & The Lurchers said...

I don't have children but I don't think we have this room parent stuff her in the UK. It sounds a nightmare!!

I'm all for kids eating healthily and not filling their faces with junk but there is a time and a place and what is a party all about if it's not for eating yummy, unhealthy food!?

laurie said...

you're touching a nerve here. i'm with willowtree (and i don't often say that) when he says "talk about sucking all the fun out of life!"

i still remember, fondly, the parties we had in school when i was in second and third and fourth grades. mostly just cupcakes and cookies and juice, but nobody died, nobody got ridiculously squirrelly.

christmas parties, yes, and we sang indian carols, too, about the mighty gitchee manitou, or whatever it was, and we sang the dreidle song, and we didn't care, we were happy to be inclusive.

why not be inclusive of everyone, instead of exclusive of everyone??

auntie barbie said...

I think its total crap that you got no response from the other parents. If they don't want to participate in their childs activities then screw them! You do whatever you want and tell them if they don't like it then they should have handled it. I think its only fair that you put them all on a sugar high and then send them home.

my two cents said...

Here is what I love about high school: Because, as Stacie points out, everythingi that happens in school in this state must be tied to the standards, creative teachers have students make something that relates to a lesson, usually a cultural one. For the most part I think they bring in cookies, (do you know of any culture that doesn't have cookies?) and when you are very lucky, homemade baklava. Some especially clever students figure out pretty quickly that there are more snacks than will ever be eaten, that the teacher has checked that they have brought something in, and they sneak their gallon size baggie of goodies into their backpack to share with their friends at lunch. Happy last day of school before vacation!!!

LCM said...

We left the politically correct world of Oregon behind and here in Texas my girls had a Christmas party. Where they got served tons of junk and there are nativity scenes on neighbors' lawns all over the subdivision. It really does make a difference. OH, the girls sang all sorts of holiday songs at their concert. They would not stop singing their Hanukah song! Nobody sent out any requests for help this year, maybe because we are new we are off the radar.

rocketeer said...

I'm sorry, somebody has to state the obvious. It seems this whole PC thing was started by people saying that they are offended by Christmas and they dropped anchor on the public funds issue. Yeah, when you move towards socialism you lose rights.

Are any christians out there offended by a menorah? (I'm assuming none)Why should we accept that they're offended by red and green? The golden rule works both ways. It's ok to expect to be treated the way you would like to be treated.

America was founded on freedon of religion, not freedom from religion. So now we're celebrating seasons? That sounds very pagan. I think I'm offended. Lets have no parties then.

Americans love to party. Let's celebrate all holidays. I mean it. I'll pay for puplic schools to display other people's religious symbols if they will help pay for mine.

Shouldn't we be celebrating our rich diversity? That's what makes this country unique. Let's not quash it.

Flowerpot said...

i second willowtree's comments. killjoys!

PixelPi said...

What Rocketeer said!

Kimberly said...

I'm all for the lightening up. So much fuss and worry over things that don't matter at all in the long run.

Akelamalu said...

There's too much political correctness these days - over food, what you call holidays and everything else as far as I'm concerned. I bet the kids will love the food you provide and have a greaet time!

The Rotten Correspondent said...

So here I am - should be cutting and plating fudge - yet here I sit, sneaking back to read comments. A girl's gotta have some fun.

kaycie - Shelving books? Are they kidding? We have a parent's night right after school starts up and people sign up for volunteer positions. Sometimes there's a big response and sometimes...

ped crossing - That's exactly the way I feel. Don't get me started on the whole PC thing. And you're totally right. If you limit the sugary things one or two kids are going to hoover up the entire table.

willowtree - yeah, but with the junk food party I can pass it off as chocolate.

stacie - so far I've been lucky in that the teachers are overlooking it. I think (and you and ped crossing certainly back up) that the teachers are as sick of it all as we are - if not more.

potty mummy - see, now the allergies are something I'm totally in tune with and I respect those completely. One year one of SD's classmates was lactose intolerant and we were making homemade ice cream sandwiches for his birthday and I went out and got dairy free ice cream just for one kid. And was happy to do it, a small token of gratitude for having allergy free kids.

It's the other crap that kills me.
(And don't apologize for the rant. I loved it! And agreed with every word)

aoj and the lurchers - I think that's what bothers me so much about the food. It's the idea that this is the way most kids eat on a daily basis but we have to do something different to celebrate something. If you do it all the time it isn't special, but if you mostly eat healthy stuff - like my kids - a treat is pretty (no pun intended) sweet.

laurie - this is why I always look so forward to your comments. You just said (in one perfectly flawless line) what I spent paragraphs TRYING to say -

why not be inclusive of everyone, instead of exclusive of everyone??

I can't add a single word to that.

auntie barbie - laughed out loud at that. Thanks. I have to admit to be a little ticked off. I'm taking my plate of goodies to SD's class as my little contribution, but also because he LOVES to takes something to school that he's made. But the other class just didn't want to play. I have one person bringing a snack and one person bringing paper goods and I could kiss their faces. Maybe I'll sugar load their kids a little less!

my two cents - don't take this the wrong way, but there are times I don't miss California at all. That's just absurd. Although the idea of homemade baklava is hard to find fault with.

lcm - welcome! And thanks for your comment. It's funny about kids. They're perfectly happy to celebrate everyone's holiday and here we are having to tell them that they can't celebrate anyone's. It's really frustrating.

rocketeer - welcome to you, too! And Bravo for your comment. I agree totally. I personally have never met a single person who was offended by another person's religious symbolism. Maybe I have extremely tolerant and easy going friends. But I don't think so. I think it's all overblown to the point of lunacy.

flowerpot - willowtree should be enjoying this. He never has this many people agreeing with him.

pixelpi - It WAS put beautifully, wasn't it?

kimberly - absolutely. Let's put all this energy into things that DO matter. Can you imagine all the good that could be done??

akela - I sure hope the kids will like the food. But if even a single parent makes a comment on the sugar content, I'm gonna let 'em have it!

auntie barbie said...

Hey RC,
Do you have a recipe for those pretzel/kiss things? They look great!

Jo Beaufoix said...

RC, I am so late. I agree wth everyone.
Laurie was spot on, Willowtree made me howl, and Auntie Barbie was right too. If the parents can't be arsed to help, then they have no right to comment.
Give them ons of stuff with food colouring and sugar in. The kids will love it, and their parents deserve it.

The Rotten Correspondent said...

auntie barbie - I'm embarrassed to tell you how easy those pretzel things are and they are fabulous!

On a baking sheet line up the square waffle pretzel shapes (or round ones if you can find them). Top each with a Hershey's kiss (unwrapped obviously!) We used the candy cane ones you can find this time of year, but you can use any kind. Put them in a 350 oven for 1-2 minutes just to melt them slightly. They won't lose their shape, so don't overcook them. When you take them out top each one with a mini M&M and chill for a while. This is the first time we've made them and they're really yummy.

I can't seem to link in comments, but it's an Allrecipes recipe and it's called Chocolate Pretzels. If you want me to find the link let me know!

Jo - well, I think I have the food coloring thing covered. I meant to just swirl in some red on the fudge, but I used my paste colors and too much to boot, so it's all Pepto Bismo pink. Ah, well.