So I was at my kids school a couple of weeks ago. I had volunteered for the Christmas party and it got snowed out with the polar express that ran through here. Of course the kids were still up for it at the beginning of Jan so we did a rain date.
It wasn’t anything big – just about 5 mom’s came in to help facilitate an in-classroom field day. It’s kindergarten…so anything would have constituted a party. I am new to the whole mommy group at school thing. There seems to be a very tangible social clique going on over at the school (I’m sure it happens at all school) but it’s one of those things where you arrive at an event and you realize there is a group of women wearing exactly the same thing that are in a power struggle with each other. And it becomes obvious that they place themselves at a higher pecking order than you. It’s a sorority for women of a post school age. A place to put your bitterness and judgment where it can be massaged and cultivated under the grow light of religion. Actually I think the religious part is just a front. Whatever.
I’ll be upfront and say that - though I have successfully spawned once – I am not a model suburban mother. And that is a part of me that makes me wake up happy each and every morning. But I digress.
So I show up at the Christmas party day at the school and meet my new boss in life “Gwen”. She is an uber-mom that takes charge of events (whether or not you want her to). Fine.
I am introduced to some other volunteer mom’s and note that they are all wearing the uniform. Black high heeled boots, skinny jeans by either Seven or Paper and Denim, a Christmas sweater that appears to be cashmere (but I will not believe that anyone would adulterate a piece of cashmere like that – so I tell my brain to believe it is some bastardization of wool. People do cruel shit to wool all the time and get away with it. Example –All women currently on “The View”). And then they have this very thin, fine gold necklace with a gold cross. That part never changes. It’s such a staple in the outfit that I actually see women accessorize OVER that necklace with another to not miss out on a flair opportunity. Top it all off with diamond stud earrings and a haircut that I can only find one comparison to – it was the hairdo that Diane (of Sam and Diane fame from the TV show Cheers) wore. Actually these women have a striking resemblance to Diane pretty much over all.
So I have a black track pants on and a north face pullover with a white t-shirt and my patented “white person (clean) dreadlocks”. Children tend to like my hair because it is obviously encouraged to be this out of control.
I volunteer for what seems to be one of the more daunting activities – the relay race.
I am assigned my first group and I immediately change all the games rules and start laying the law with my kids. Two lines. You - stop talking. Now you are last. If you talk or give me reason to make eye contact you will be sent to the back of the line. This is the game. This is how to win. You – back of the line now for not listening. You – you are now a judge because you have been listening – you will help me run this game. No – you cannot help – back of the line for talking and making eye contact. On your marks get set go. Chaos.
Children started jumping up and down in line getting ready for their part of the relay. Yelling hugging. Cheating commenced about 2 minutes into it. I started sending groups to the back-of-the-line to the point where one team was just an ever-rotating circle. It was like a super hot craps table at 1am on the strip in Vegas.
So it went on like this until the judge had to count out the amounts at the end of the game and declare a winner. During one of those down moments I looked over to the activity going on about 3 feet to my right. There was a mom running a candy cane game that was moving at a snails pace. The kids kept looking at the barely contained activity level of my game and wanting to emulate it within their activity. The mom kept suggesting that they go slow. She was also doing this thing where she would lean over and “close talk” with them individually to address their concerns. Then she did this with a child that I endearingly call “goat child”. Goat child is something to behold. She is a sweet looking little girl with her plaid jumper uniform on and pageboy haircut…but she has the instincts of a farm animal. Her base instinct is to escape. Anything. Anyone. I delight in watching her. She has the absent look in her eyes of a goat too. Very dark pupils that convey no thought process – just slavery to instinct. People tend not to give her verbal direction but just jump right to moving her body so that it faces the direction of what they want.
Well this close-talking mom arrives at Goat Child for tete-a-tete. She leans down and whispers something to the child. Goat Child stares at her and in a markedly loud voice says “Have you been drinking”?
She stand up ram rod straight with her hands in a little temple shape at her chest…frozen.
It was within these few moments where Goat Child knew she had the power. And like a swish of potent pheromones, all the other little children knew it too.
The other children immediately wanted in on the conversation. It probably didn’t help that I barked a laugh at hearing the accusation. But all the kids started in with “what did she drink? My mom drinks. My mom drinks beer. My mom drinks wine. Does Janie’s mom have yucky breath? My daddy gets bad breath from beer.” And on and on…it swept the room like wildfire. And this woman just stood there, frozen – not able to intercede on her own behalf. Totally lost as to what to do she walked over to the class teacher and tried to explain what was going on without incriminating herself further.
It seems she had gargled with some Listerine or some such before she came to class. She started breathing on the teacher to prove her innocence. The teacher grimaced at being breathed on and set across the room to try and regain control of a violent outbreak of distracted gossip that was now infiltrating all the other activity groups. The mother walked with the teacher back to the group and was confronted once again by the Goat Child (wielding her surprising new power and popularity).
Janie’s mom started to have a panic attack. Janie’s mom was a sad pathetic drunk from this point forward in all recorded history and she knew it. Any attempt to assuage the angry mob of curtain crawlers now would be lame and only stoke the fires of their excitement at having caught an adult prey. The Goat Child reveled in her kill. Janie’s mom left the classroom.
About 45 minutes later she would re-enter the room and breathe on the all of the volunteer moms to try and regain their support – but we were tired. And she had proven herself to be the weakest of the herd so no one cared. I chuckled as she manically tried to recruit me as an advocate for her innocent misjudgment. “Hehe, yep, sorry about that. Listerine does smell weird. Should have nipped that one in the bud as quickly as possible.” I did have sympathy for her. Somewhere. Somewhere deep. But it was so over padded with hilarity at her social networking demise at the hands of kindergartners that I was having a hard time bringing it out.
I saw a woman go from soup to nuts that day. It was a documentary on Crisis Response and the need to control your audience or be eaten by them. On the way home from the Christmas Party I pulled over and called my dad who spent his life handling Public Relations for a company that was too big to be loved. He and I were crying we were laughing so hard on the phone. Janie’s mom had sealed her coffin. So sad. The scorn. Poor Janie and her drunk mother.