A couple of years ago – okay more like ten – my oldest daughter was in 1st grade. Being the aspiring super mom that I was – 3 kids in 2.5 years, one in charter school in first grade, the other in a pilot preschool program, and the last one looking as cute as a button all the time – I signed up for ‘party mom’. As most of you will know, party moms are those women who have nothing better to do with their time than plan overly extravagant festivities to be held in the classroom on Valentine’s Day and for the ‘Holidays’ (some schools also include Halloween, but our school didn’t because there was a majority of families that preferred not to celebrate a ‘pagan’ holiday – perhaps they should confront the Pope about his Paganism) – so these moms all get together a few weeks in advance of party day and they all bring their fabulous ideas from whatever sources they have – I presume it’s some secret cult periodical that I never received because I keep liquor in my house – but I arrived with the idea that we would be making assignments for who was to bake 800 cookies and that would be about it. We arrived and it was determined – or more like proclaimed by the mom dictator who had taken on chairmanship of this apparently vitally important committee – who knew it was a matter of national security to have a spectacular holiday party – surely not me – that we would be giving the little darlings the opportunity to make ‘gingerbread houses’ out of used milk cartons from the cafeteria, graham crackers, frosting and candy. Okay great, that sounds really cute (note to self, have my clumsy kid wear something that is VERY washable). So, Mrs. A should bring 14 tons of frosting, oh don’t get the fluffy kind it’s not sticky enough to hold the crackers to the milk cartons, don’t buy the really cheap stuff it doesn’t taste as good and has more sugar so they will get more hyper (we are giving them frosting and candy, I’m sure it’s gonna matter 3 grams v. 5 grams in one tablespoon), etc. Okay frosting settled, Mrs. B bring the candy, lots of redhots, candy canes, don’t get the weird ones, don’t get the large ones, etc. – okay candy settled – Mrs. C pick up the milk cartons from Mrs. Cafeteria Genius (yes she is a Genius, I miss her tremendously, but that’s for another day) – and lastly the ensuing WAR over the graham crackers. Let me tell you now that school here started at 8:15 – to the best of my memory – we all began this meeting a bit before 8:30 in the school library – and this was for ONE classroom of first graders, so there were ya know 13 other similar meetings going on. By lunchtime – 11:30? – we were still fighting over what kind of graham crackers to purchase – okay we weren’t, the two ‘graham cracker mom’s’ were battling out. I mistakenly suggested they settle the way we had always settled things growing up – leg wrestling. Apparently that isn’t an appropriate solution to such an important decision. The dictator mom and another one, who (after years of contact) I assume must have tried for the very prestigious position of head party mom went at it for, I kid you not, 3 hours. Those crackers don’t break straight, those crackers taste like cardboard, those crackers are too expensive, those crackers won’t adhere to the frosting, etc., etc. etc. At about 10:30 I vowed to never ever ever be on this important committee again, because I was clearly out of my league – hell I knew nothing about which graham crackers didn’t stick well with frosting.
It’s been a few years, as I indicated already – and I have run across a few more ‘graham cracker moms’ during that time – in fact shortly after the original eye opener of the party mom meeting, I actually managed to do all my volunteering on one and two person committees that I either chaired or approached a mom I knew I could stand (who also maybe kept liquor in her home) and said, hey lets do this together so you don’t get stuck with Mrs. Super Duper Graham Cracker Dictator Mom – that worked really well from about 3rd grade to about 6th grade with only a couple of hideous experiences. Well, then you get into high school, and you don’t have so much control – because you are the new rookie mom again – ugh. So there was Softball Concessions, I knew the chair – our kids had gone to the same elementary – and I knew I could work with her – so she chaired Varsity and I chaired Junior Varsity – well that Graham Cracker mom – (by the way my daughter was a sophomore and it was my second year in this position – her daughter was a freshman, you get my point) actually laminated concession stand schedules and then attached them to magnets so that none of us slacker moms would forget that we had to bring the hotdogs early on Thursday the third and warm up the nacho cheese. Being a veteran of the ‘I don’t do Graham Crackers’ club – when she handed me my laminated schedule – I point blank said ‘wow you have a lot of flexible time don’t you’. So it’s not just about graham crackers and holiday parties. And there have been others.
But yesterday – well wow is all I can say.
My daughters are involved in an organization for girls, and the age for membership has dropped from 12 when I was a girl to 10. So – our little group has our first ten year-old – G-d help us. And this little darling, is not so darling. Her mom is totally out to lunch, and will tell you as many times as you will listen how freaking fabulous she is, and how challenging her life is and how she still manages to do all these wonderful Martha Stewart times twelve accomplishments. As a matter of fact, she really never shuts up. Well whoopti hell, she is now on the adult advisory committee for this group – remember that whole I only join groups that I can tolerate the others – so far so good – but now… lets just call her Graham Cracker Mom from Hell. We usually have our meetings on the 3rd Tuesday of every month at 7:00pm – we are generally done by 8:30 – occasionally sooner, sometimes a bit later – and we don’t run them all that efficiently, and I am a HUGE violator when it comes to getting off task – I even tell myself going into these meetings to shut up and only comment on my own notes. And I’m sure that when I first joined this council, I was a pain in everyone’s ass too – because a newbie needs clarification all the time. I did have the advantage of having been in this organization as a girl, I had the advantage of having served on this same council when I was a young adult (the presiding officer at that time ran everything, simply had the meetings because they were required, told us what we were doing, what to vote for and made the most fabulous desserts ever – end of meeting) Now our presiding officer is a bit wishy washy, kinda wimpy – will admit all this herself, so I’m not really talking behind her back – and I love her and she was exactly what we needed when she took on the position. Anyhow, this new GCMfH, is totally new to the organization, and she can do everything remember (frankly she has already screwed up several times, but we will let that go right now) – so the way this meeting is run is that 5 of us have voting rights – the others just do stuff for the kids, but we honor their votes anyhow just to be nice. And of the five that have voting rights, we all get a turn to talk about our issues – beginning with the presiding officer. She says, here’s the deal the girls are idiots in the dressing room, and I told them they were being awful and told them to shape up and ten minutes later they made a huge mess, broke some stuff, and were idiots – GCMfH spoke up – maybe we should this and that – why isn’t there this and that – (oh yeah, the biggest idiot in the dressing room is her kid, which presiding officer had said we were specifically going to talk about Kid A and Kid B who are an issue – but their two moms who have NEVER attended this meeting before both showed up – so being wishy washy she didn’t name names – probably better that way, but…) – we spent 5 minutes on the topic, and then GCM spent another 20 minutes on it. Then the second in charge said could we do a ceremony for the Odd Fellows – we said yes) GCM had to tell us how her mom was a Rebekkah (sp?) and she remembers right where the Odd Fellows hall is from a field trip with her kids to town (we meet in a small historic mining town).Then the Secretary – she read us the notes from the State meeting that we all didn’t attend but she did – GCM had about 14 questions about stuff that she didn’t need to clarify right then and could have saved us all a lot of time if she had said to one specific person, can you explain all that later. – Okay now I’m just venting, and I’m sure you have the picture our usual little 1.5 hour meeting took 3 hours – and I didn’t talk much (couldn’t get a word in edgewise) so we pretty much stayed on topic, just that we got down to the silliest details of each topic – and then the coupe de gras (sp?) she actually told another mom – “and if I don’t like the way you are doing it, I won’t help” – and she was MEAN about it. I said, “that’s okay, if she won’t do it your way, find someone who will” (oh I am such a diplomat – actually I am, because what I wanted to say was “who died and made you queen bitch head of the quilters” – but I toned it down).
So – now my most passionate volunteer position is being jeopardized by a newbie-uninformed-idiot-hasn’t swept her own porch-Graham Cracker Mom – I will win this one, oh yes I will – because unlike my first attempt, when I was way out of my league – this time I have the upper hand, I have the experience, the knowledge, and my kids are older, I’m almost done, so it’s sorta like Fried Green Tomatoes, “I’m older and I have more insurance”.