For the past year, I've been one of the class mothers in Ann's preschool class. And now I'm glad I'm not.
Don't get me wrong - everything went pretty smoothly over the year. But as with all such roles, there were a few, ahem, issues that irked me.
Now, this was not that complex a job, as it basically entailed:
*Collecting money for the teachers' gifts at Chanukah
*Collecting money for the teachers' gifts at the end of the year
*Calling parents about school cancellations due to inclement weather or other unforseen events
Initially, the head teacher also suggested running a little program where instead of sending lunches on Monday, each parent would send about $1 or $1.50 and she'd buy bread, spreads, vegetables, etc. and the kids would make their own sandwiches. Since the preschool director was not a fan of this idea, the teacher left it up to the class mothers to poll the other parents and see if the majority would be interested. The response was a little lukewarm, so the idea was shelved.
I would have gone along with the sandwich idea, but I can certainly understand that in families where the preschool child is not the oldest, school lunches are made assembly-line-style and there's no major purpose served in being spared the making of that one lunch for the little one. Even in our smaller household, I typically make RaggedyDad 3 sandwiches for his long work-and-schoolday, and making one more for Ann is no big deal.
This year, we had no snow days at school. None. So basically, I was just a banker twice a year. Actually, my job was made even easier because there were 18 kids in the class and the teacher requested 3 class mothers, so my part of the class list amounted to just my family and 5 other families.
Of the three class mothers, one lives in an outlying neighborhood, works half-days, and sends her daughter to preschool by bus. The other is more of a queen-bee type who had filled the class-mom role once or twice before. And then there was me.
When it came to the biannual teacher gifts, we came to the consensus that rather than take the pooled cash and buy something for the teachers, we would present them with a nice card and The Cash. Having been a teacher myself (and received my fair share of Korean Jesus statuettes, etc), and having a mother who is a preschool assistant, I firmly believe that while less "personal", cash is most appreciated by teachers. Particularly in Ann's assistant teacher's case, where I'm aware that personal finances are tight, a gift card to a particular store would also not be ideal.
However, two issues came up at Chanukah time that irked me. First, since both the Chanukah performance and the graduation took place on Fridays, I thought it would be appropriate to present each teacher with a small bouqet of flowers, with a small amount of money taken from the amount collected. When RaggedyDad brings home flowers, he typically spends very, very little on them, so it can be done.
Queen Bee Mom nixed the flowers idea, and for no reason other than the fact that she felt that particularly the assistant could use every dollar. I hear her point, but the amount collected was sizable. I believe that even when someone could really use the money, if, say, a small, small fraction of it gets taken out, they're just as likely as anyone to appreciate a little pick-me-up like flowers. But I didn't push the point, and acquiesced. And it's possible that those few dollars would indeed mean a lot.
What bothered me more was that Queen Bee Mom insisted on presenting the teachers with the money in the same denominations in which it was collected. Which meant some larger bills, but also a Lot of small bills. I asked her if she thought we might go to the bank to change the money for larger, though not impractical denominations, which would be a little more presentable.
She decided against it because a)going to the bank would be a tirchah (imposition) on the class moms and b)[My blood is still boiling over this one] the assistant might have a hard time with larger bills "at the types of stores where might shop".
I probably bit my tongue hard enough to bring up blood. I saw that there was no headway with this mom, but how rude can you get? It's not as though the assistant teacher buys her groceries from vending machines! There really aren't that many stores nowadays that give you a hard time over a $20 or even a $50 bill.
I just can't stand it when, in the name of thinking they're doing what's best for someone, people get so self-righteous as to govern how and what is done for someone else. Queen Bee Mom would have you think this was a huge favor she was doing for the assistant. Grr.
Suffice it to say that when I was in charge of assembling the cards and cash at the end of the year, I skipped the flowers but made sure that there were kavodik (respectful) denominations of money in those cards. And Ann and I baked two little chocolate cakes for the teachers as well.
What are your thoughts?