I've sort of come full circle with the elementary school party. I've been the party mom, I've been the "please don't ask me to volunteer at the party" mom, and now I'm the teacher. Assistant teacher. Whatever. Now, I get to sit back and watch a new crop of party moms take over and it's very entertaining.
When I was the party mom, I was happy to help out. Of course, I would rather have run the whole party solo and spared myself the complete mind-numbing experience of a "committee" but I was a team player. I dutifully brought what I was assigned, spent my own money without complaint (sorta), and showed up to run a station and watch my child and his/her classmates bliss out on games like "eat a doughnut from a string" or decorate cookies with a tiny schmear of frosting and a pile of gummy worms and sprinkles twice at thick as the cookie itself (p.s. They never ate them, either. Those suckers were forgotten on the counter the minute we got home and left to dry up and crumble until they got knocked off the counter and swept up into the trash).
One year, I was on the party committee for "Gingerbread Sleighs." This concoction was a step up from the Gingerbread house - psh, we'd already done those, so we had to move on to luxury forms of transportation. The gingerbread sleigh contained NO actual gingerbread, but rather a graham cracker base with candy cane sled runners. I was in charge of the candy canes. I purchased them way ahead of time (ok, the day before) and arrived five minutes late to the official creating of the sleighs. Big deal, the kids were only just choosing their graham crackers and candy toppings. The party mom - THE party mom, I'm talking the ORGANIZER, berated me for being late in front of the whole room of kids and parents, then hastily grabbed my bag of candy canes and started ripping open packages as if the creating of a cookie sleigh were as urgent as her overactive bladder. I stood there with my empty bag and noticed that all the other party moms were wearing matching Santa hats. Apparently the ORGANIZER mom had purchased these for the other party moms - all but me. And let me tell you, I learned my lesson! I will NOT be late with the candy canes again, lest I have my Santa hat snatched unceremoniously off my head.
One year, we party moms decided to have a cookie decorating station at the class party. Suggestions were thrown about - who could bring frosting, who could bring sprinkles - when one mom piped up "Um, I'll be handling the cookie station. Cookie decorating is MY THING!" Well, then. Did you INVENT cookie decorating? True to her word, though, this mom showed up with everything needed to decorate giant pumpkin shaped cookies. And she ran that station like a drill sergeant - "ONE squirt of frosting, ONE pinch of sprinkles, DON'T TOUCH THAT!" Most of the kids avoided her. Not even the lure of orange frosting could win them over.
Today's party moms are kind of party poopers if you ask me. For one thing, they serve mostly healthy food. Tiny tangerines, cheese sticks, healthy crackers, and MAYBE a small cookie thrown in because it's a holiday. Halloween bingo still makes the rounds, as does that dreaded doughnut on a string game. Last year, a party dad thought it would be great fun to have the teachers play it. One of the parents grabbed my camera and took some very lovely photos of me, on my knees, powdered sugar all over my face, mouth gaping open trying to catch a swinging doughnut. Believe it or not, those photos never made the internet. DELETE.
I was always so excited about party days when my kids were in elementary school. And I always left with a headache. Now, working in a classroom, I look forward to party days if only because the parents mostly run the show and I can sit back, relax, and.........HA! Kidding. I still go home with a headache.
I'm a sucker, though. My kids are long past the party at school phase. Once they hit junior high, class parties went the way of their baby teeth and nighttime bed-wetting. But I still peruse the racks at Target, drawn by the twelve-pack of Halloween crayons and other junk. I've already purchased a Valentine goody for my class. And these days the only party mom duties I have are planning my kids own birthday parties, although even those are pretty much planned by them. My duties include buying food and decorations and acting as servant during the party.
So, I pass the torch to those crazed party moms. Those decorative baggie-filling, matching ribbon-curling, homemade cookie-baking, jack-o-lantern-shirt-wearing moms who give selflessly of their time to make a 40 minute party rock. You go, girls! I'll be on the sidelines, smiling knowingly and wondering where the time went. Party on, moms!