Dear Snarky – The Over Gifting Room Mom

dear_snarky_logo-1Dear Snarky,

I’ve had it with the room mom at my son’s school. So far, we’ve been hit up to contribute money for teacher gifts to the tune of over $100. I’ve already paid in for a teacher birthday gift, Christmas present, and wedding anniversary gift certificate (and we still have teacher appreciation and end of year gifts we’re going to have to contribute to). NOW we’re being asked to each pay $30 to buy the teacher a Southwest airlines gift certificate so she can use it to fly to see her first grandchild!!!!

The teacher drives a Range Rover, for crap’s sake, I think she has the money to buy an airline ticket.

How do I say no way and not seem like a jerk?

Signed, Fed Up

Dear Fed Up,

If you go deep into the Dear Snarky archives you’ll see I have answered this question before, but because I get letters like this so often I deem it imperative that I address this issue again. So everyone listen up.

The easiest and most effective thing to do is to just say no with pride in your voice and zero shame. I would also tell the other parents you’re saying no because I can assure you most of the moms and dads are looking for someone to be the first brave soul to throw the word out there and then they will follow. 

This room parent obviously has an agenda like extreme sucking up or she’s in some sort of room mom competition where she wants everyone to know that she’s the queen of room parents everywhere. You don’t have to feed her agenda by participating in her illusions of grandeur.

Also, at the risk of getting a social media beat down from teachers everywhere, I’m inclined to think the teacher needs to shut this down and that she should have shut it down when she got a wedding anniversary gift from her students. I mean, come on, a teacher’s anniversary is a personal event and not one to be celebrated with her room of fourth graders. (And before the angry comments start coming my way I know that, yes, the teacher might have said something to the room parent about excessive gifting and was ignored.)

That said, you have no control over the teacher and room parent, but you do have free will so do every kid and parent in that class a favor and be the first one to say no.

*If you have a question for Dear Snarky – 21st Century Advice With An Attitude – email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com or send me a private message on my Snarky in the Suburbs Facebook page.

School Supplies + Tax Free Shopping = Cray X Cray

Cartoon10080202There are many different ways to approach shopping for school supplies. Some families order their bounty from the PTO. It’s a way to cross yet another fundraiser off the list. Others wait until after the first day of school just to make sure the teacher hasn’t made any changes or additions to their must have’s. But, I think most parents, in eager anticipation of the start of school, hit the shopping aisles at least a week before the big day.

As I seasoned mother I’m used to crowds associated with back to school shopping. But surprisingly I have never, ever, ventured out during a tax-free weekend. Last Saturday, I was at Target pushing my cart to the office supply aisle to buy some computer paper when I was overwhelmed by a horde of school supply shoppers. I had to abandon cart and by that I mean leave it in the men’s underwear section, grab my purse, fresh from the snack bar Diet Coke and shimmy down two aisles just to get close to the computer paper.

Now a somewhat sane person or an individual with superior time management skills would have taken one look at the hustle and bustle, promptly turned around and ventured off to less crowded environs. But none of the above describes me at all. Sure, I thought about leaving but then I heard a mom threaten her two daughters with “ugly notebooks” if they didn’t behave. A parent using school supplies as a punishment, well you just know I had to stay and see how this played out. I took a sip of my Diet Coke and settled in by the bin of wide ruled paper.

Disappointingly, the mother demonstrated very 21st century parenting techniques and did not follow through on her ultimatum at all. Her girls continued to throw pencil cases at one another and they still got pretty spiral notebooks with flowers on them.

As I was standing there contemplating the general lack of follow through in parenting (myself included) a grandma asked me if I knew where and what a dry erase marker was. Indeed I did and it was my pleasure to explain to her the wonders of the white board. I found out she was there buying school supplies for her three grandchildren while the family was on vacation. I told her she deserved a medal. The grandma laughed and confessed that if she had known how long the school supply lists were she might have changed her mind about helping out.

This got us talking about back in the day and the grandma said when she was a kid she went to school with a notebook and a pencil. That got me thinking and I’m pretty sure all I brought to school was lunch. Hmm, when did school supply lists start exceeding one page? Another question for you, what do kids do with all those Post It Notes and 3 X 5 index cards we have to buy? I’m certain in my parenting career I’ve bought enough Post It Notes and index cards to circle the earth. And what’s up with the graphing calculator that exceeds $100? Ouch, on that one.

I might have continued my visit with the grandma but two women were getting agitated over who was going to get the last pink composition notebook. My attention, as you can imagine, was immediately diverted. My money was on the bigger mom being the victor in the notebook grab and go. And this is why I don’t gamble; the smaller mother had some mighty long fingernails, and like a hawk grabbing a Yorki Poo from a backyard that’s country club golf course adjacent, the mini mom extended her talons, clutched the notebook and took off.

I figured that was my excitement for the day (and really it was kind of exciting) so I got my computer paper, found my cart and continued shopping on the other side of the store. While I was pursuing cleaning supplies two youngish moms were having an in-depth conversation about the boxes of Kleenex that were stacked on two shelves below the bleach. Both moms had Kleenex on their kid’s school supply list and their dilemma was whether to go generic Kleenex and get the basic blow your nose variety in the non decorator box or really show you care and buy expensive tissue.

I decided I should help them out and told them you can never go wrong with spending a little more on your school Kleenex purchase. Consider it preliminary sucking it. Oh, and this is most important put our kid’s name in Sharpie on the Kleenex box. That way the teacher knows you spent the big bucks and went Ultra Soft with Lotion.

In fact, put your kid’s name on everything most especially the graphing calculator that cost more than my first car payment.

**For more Snarky check out my book  Snarky in the Suburbs Back to School. 

Here’s a little ditty about it: The Spring Creek Elementary School PTA board (a coven of Mean Moms dressed in Uggs, yoga pants, and dermal filler) is up to no good. Wynn Butler (middle-aged, uncool, and not bringing sexy back) is determined to find out what’s going on. With help from her two kids, a Roomba vacuum turned mobile surveillance drone, and a few good friends, Wynn launches a covert investigation that leads to the “mother of all revenge capers” at the school’s annual Fall Festival. If you’ve ever fantasized about smoke bombing the idiot parent who has yet to master the fine art of the school drop-off lane, or standing up and shouting, “Liar, liar, Botox on fire” during a PTA meeting, then this delicious tale of payback is for you.

To stay up-to-date on new posts and take part in my not so deep thoughts click on this Facebook link – http://is.gd/iEgnJ (That’s the abbreviated link to my FB page) or I twitter @snarkynsuburbs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Snarky – The Teacher Gift Grab

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Dear Snarky,

This week marks the dreaded, or at least by me, Teacher Appreciation week. You know the one where the class mom sends out fifty emails basically making you feel that if you don’t bring in gifts for your child’s teacher your family is going to be placed on some black list for the rest of time?

Wasn’t the Kindle FireHD and the $100 gift certificate from the class at Christmas enough to let him/her know they are appreciated? Or the basket and bouquet at Valentine’s Day bought by the class? Or the $150 gift certificate for the teacher’s birthday from the class? Or the giant basket of goodies, flowers and restaurant gift cards during parent teacher conferences enough? 

 Also, my kids have multiple teachers which even at five dollars a card can really bite into my family budget. I personally would just like to ignore Teacher Appreciation Week, and the upcoming End of Year teacher gift free for all, but I don’t want my kids to feel bad either. What do you do?

Signed,

Going Broke Mom

Dear Going Broke Mom,

Take a breath, relax and know that I’ve got your back. What you’re suffering from is known as A.C.M. – Aggressive Class Mom fatigue. This is the parent that treats her stint as Class Mom as a competition where her talent is brow beating other parents via email disguised as gracious chit-chat and making snide comments at school drop off and pick up. Her goal is besting the other class moms in the “Look, look I did more for the teacher and had the best class parties!” category.

When my son was in kindergarten the class mom wanted all of us to contribute enough money to get the teacher a $1,500 PRADA bag! I know, totally crazy right? The class mom had the math all worked out.

There were 18  kids in morning kindergarten and 16 kids in the afternoon class. Making a total of 34 kids. If each family contributed only $50 then the teacher could be rocking a Prada. I declined to participate in the Prada purse shakedown and got the teacher a movie gift card instead.

That said, you are under NO obligation to get a teacher a gift. How, do I know this? I asked many, many teachers and contrary to popular suburban lore teachers do not spend their recess break comparing their gifts and one upping each other with who has the bigger gift card tree.

In my survey I found that the thing teachers appreciate any time of the year is a letter or email from a child or parent telling them how much they have enjoyed learning. If your letter is especially praise worthy several teachers suggested that it is equally awesome if you can co copy the principal.

Trust me, people who teach didn’t go into the profession for a Starbucks gift card. So don’t stress out and give the gift that keeps on giving a daily heartfelt appreciation for education and the people who dedicate their lives to it.