When I was a teacher, one of the things I SWORE I’d do was volunteer to help out in my kids’ classes. I knew what it was like to teach a group of unruly 10-year-olds with no room parent, no weekly volunteers, and no party-planning help. It was awful, and I vowed to never put a teacher in that position.
Because of that determination (or sheer stupidity– take your pick), I have been the head room parent for one or both of my kids every year so far.
I’m not complaining. I really love it. As I walked out of Alex’s fourth-grade classroom today, I had one boy (BOY!) say, “So, what, we’re too old for hugs now?” I walked back to his desk, and he threw his arms around me and squeezed tight. And then about 16 other kids needed hugs, too. I love that. They know me, and they think (I think) that I’m pretty cool. I’m the mom that comes in and helps them read, or does projects with them, or plays games and brings in treats. I like them. Even the naughty ones. I think they can sense that, and they like me in return.
The thing I don’t like about being a room parent is the “bigger is better” mentality that some of the other parents have. I know when I was a teacher, all I cared about was having a treat, some sort of activity, and for someone else to handle the planning. The kids were already hyper about the holiday, and they would have been happy to do a math worksheet as long as it was during the party and I wasn’t the one giving it to them, so I wasn’t too particular about what games were played, as long as everyone could participate.
I don’t know what changed in six years, but my goodness, class parties aren’t AT ALL what they used to be.
I was in charge of Alex’s class activity. (Not a game… an “activity”.) I wanted to do Bingo, but the mom in charge said Bingo is tired, and she wanted something different and exciting. Fine. But guess what game they asked for? Yes. Bingo. Instead, we played that game where you guess which character is taped to your back by asking yes or no questions, and I put a Valentine twist on it by making them pair up with a sidekick at the end. I think they enjoyed it. Plus, there was very little preparation, absolutely no mess, and everyone got to play at the same time. The shocking thing was, some parents were upset that no prize was given for the winner(s). Call me cheap (or a handful of other, related adjectives), but does a prize really have to be awarded? The parents were annoyed, but the kids could have cared less. Isn’t that how it should be? Playing just to play? To have fun? To enjoy a holiday? I really hate that a tangible reward seems necessary for everything.
Maybe I’m out of the loop. *shrug*
(And for anyone who’s interested, here are the partnerships I did:
Phineas & Ferb
Mickey & Minnie
Tom & Jerry
Bert & Ernie
Batman & Robin
Garfield & Odie
Kermit & Miss Piggy
Homer & Marge
Spongebob Squarepants & Patrick
Zack & Cody
Bugs Bunny & Daffy Duck
Shrek & Fiona
Wall-E & Eve
Harry Potter & Ron Weasley & Hermione Granger– in case there was an odd number of students, in which case they were a trio, not a pair)
I was in charge of planning Kendra’s entire party, and when I found out her teacher was going in for surgery today, I decided to keep it as low-key as possible. I brought donuts and napkins, another mom brought in Hawaiian Punch and cups, and we played the Bingo game Kendra’s teacher was so kind to leave out for us. We used M&Ms as markers, and the kids ate them when they were finished. After twenty minutes of the game, they ate their treat, and they spent the rest of the party looking through their valentines. And they were thrilled with their party.
It was funny to hear some of the mothers chatting in the office as I signed out for the day. They were talking about the hours and hours of preparation they put into the treats, or the game, or the crafts, and how stressed they were about the holiday. One mother was upset that the napkins one mom sent didn’t match the plates, and another was saying that she came in before school started to decorate the room for the party, because she felt like the teacher hadn’t done enough to, and I quote, “Make the room more cutesy and less school-y.”
It was hard not to giggle at that last comment. I nearly bit through my lip trying to hold it in.
Maybe it’s my classroom experience… maybe it’s common sense. It could be pure laziness on my part, but I think that some of them are missing the point of classroom parties. I don’t fault these moms for wanting to provide a great experience, but I think they’re missing the chance to interact with some really great kids because they’re so concerned about “cute”. And “matchy”. I know that I had six years’ worth of Valentine parties as a kid, and I can’t recall what we did at a single one. I remember that my mom was there and she helped out at several, but that’s it. As far as matching paper products go, I could have cared less. Same for cutesy decorations.
What are your thoughts on this? Which category do you most relate to? The laid-back, go-with-the-flow sort of mom, or the (I’m not sure how to word this without seeming offensive) party perfectionist? I’m really interested in your comments.
Also, to prove that I am not a total holiday sloth, I want to show you how Alex’s Valentine box turned out. He will probably not remember what game we played at his class party, but he will remember the two hours it took us to build this. And the glue-gun burns… and the hot chocolate we drank… and that he got to stay up until 10:00 PM, two whole hours after his bedtime…
Those are the sort of memories I hope he’ll hang on to.
Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! I hope you make some special memories with your loved ones.