05 May 2009

Cinco de Mayo Macaroons

One of the things about having a full time job is that I have little or no contact with the PTA mothers in my kid's school. I think this may be a good thing.

Back in September, feeling guilted into participation by a ream of paper sent home with the newly minted kindergartener, I signed up to help out at the May Teacher Appreciation Lunch. Yes, in September they were looking for May volunteers. I figured it was going to be a potluck thing, like the Teacher Appreciation Lunches where I work - heartfelt, but nothing to write home about.

Um, no.

A few weeks back, I got a call from the woman coordinating the event. Are you still able to help out? It's a Cinco de Mayo theme.

This was to be no ordinary potluck, no. The committee picked recipes, prepared them and taste-tested them, and then issued edicts and recipes to the hapless volunteers.

By the time she got around to calling me, they were down to two dishes that they still needed people to make - a marinated flank steak, and coconut macaroons. Poking it with a stick, I had to ask what coconut macaroons had to do with Cinco de Mayo. Well, everyone loves them and they're light and all the teachers are always on a diet.

I sighed and put coconut and sweetened condensed milk on the shopping list.

Luckily all I had to do was make the macaroons and deliver them to school, because this turned out to be one enormous production. There were volunteers standing by the drop off lane at school this morning, collecting food, checking names off the list, and handing out cookbooks. Yes - they collated copies of all eleven* of the recipes and handed them out to thank the volunteers. If the committee settled on eleven, how many do you think they included in the taste test?

There's a piece of me that is grateful to live in a town with a strong, well-organized PTA. I'm happy that I'm not nickel and dimed at every turn, that we're not commanded to do this or show up for that. At the same time, they seem to have a lot of time on their hands, and I wonder if this organizational energy could be better spent.

I think I'll just keep taking the train to work. It keeps me out of trouble.




*grilled chicken, grilled flank steak, five salads and four desserts - and the macaroons were an Ina Garten recipe, but I thought they were too sweet and gummy.

28 comments:

alejna said...

I am so not ready for dealing with PTAs. At least I have a couple more years to prepare.

I hope I never get asked to make a flank steak.Yeesh.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I did all of that--and I will say this--I always looked at it as what I did was helping all of the kids in the school, not just my own. It did seem worth it.

julochka said...

i fear these people as well and my tactic is to, when pressed into service, intimidate the hell out of them with things like nearly-professional-looking red velvet cupcakes. it keeps them at bay. :-)

de said...

oh, girl! I could write a book on dealing with the Home-School Association (as it is known at a Catholic school) at our school. With several chapters on the Recruitment and Retention committee that does NOTHING! They're idiots!!! (I'm only this worked up because it's near the end of the year.)

Mental P Mama said...

You are one smart mama!

Kelly said...

They might as well homeschool. It would be less work.

InTheFastLane said...

:) That was a production! But, I bet the teachers appreciated it. I have a hard time with these things since I work in a school myself and we have no PTA at our school. So, occasionally I feel guilty enough to make something or donate something but, feel like I should be making something for the teachers at my own school.

niobe said...

I've managed to stay far, far away from the PTA and its equivalents. It's one of those things I just don't get.

To avoid guilt feelings, I just tell myself that the PTA moms (and they were pretty much all moms) are actually lucky that I don't participate because it gives them more opportunities to bake and go on field trips and do whatever it is that they do.

Rachel said...

This is exactly why I don't belong to our PTA. And they're always trying to get me to volunteer at the school for functions. Honestly, I wouldn't mind being more involved there, but it kind of defeats the purpose for me to have to arrange for a babysitter for my little ones so that I can go and do stuff with other people's kids.

I'm sure the Macaroons were a hit!

Claudia said...

Wow. I am speechless and....well, it's probably best if I keep my thoughts to myself. Not a fan of this PTA type. As for guilt, being Cookie Mom this year for Dusty's brownie troop has erased all guilty volunteer thoughts for the next 18 months. At which point, she won't even be a Brownie anymore. I'm hoping Red will just skip all this shit and form a garage band. Or, in our case, a barn band.

Life As I Know It said...

I think most of these PTA moms are corporate-turned-stay-at-home-moms and face school events with the same energy as they would a multi-million dollar client presentation.
At least that's what I tell myself when faced with similar situations.

Anjali said...

I feel your pain.

The problem is that they set such a high standard for things that aren't all that important (Macaroons? Seriously)

Wouldn't energy be better spent making the cafeteria offerings healthier?

caro said...

MARINATED FLANK STEAK?

Holy fuck.

Memo to self: Start working full time again before kids start elementary school.

Gwen said...

I don't even have the excuse of a full-time job, and I still steer far away from the PTA moms. But it's not the fear of being guilted into service that keeps me at a distance; it's really that I can't deal with being sucked into all the drama and the complaining when our school is, relatively speaking (and especially compared to the Chicago Public schools in which I work), fully awesome.

jen said...

poking things with sticks.

i so love that, M.

Furrow said...

Oh, lord. Just preschool has me reeling. I wasn't prepared for this kind of thing when we enrolled toddler Z in an innocent little parents' day out program (full-time wohm myself, remember): spring cleanup day, open house, parent-chaperoned field trips, etc all have me looking like a jerk as I just throw money at them. I don't know how I'll handle the PTA stuff.

Am I doing okay? said...

It's teacher appreciation week here in California too. Yesterday, the kids were supposed to bring a flower to their teachers - which would create a bouquet. Except, Hazel's teacher didn't get any (other than ours) so I passed out some extras to other kids. Doubt that the PTA intended it to be a popularity contest.

painted maypole said...

since when is condensed milk considered light?

i helped face paint at yesterdays cinco de mayo celebration

Pinky said...

I hate coconut macaroons. I would have made some little Mexican cookies and told them to shove it if they complained.

needleinahaystack said...

So exactly true that I think I will have to blog about this one! Pretty please can I send this to everyone I know in town?
Remember, my kids went to the same kindergarten over a decade ago and that PTA is still the same.
Actually, it may be more laid back now.

The LIbrary Lady said...

If they'd called me, I would have told them to stuff it.
(Well, I might have been more diplomatic than that. But not much!!)

Next week is teacher appreciation week and I got an e-mail asking for donations for a special breakfast basket. And instead, JR and I are going to bake our own homemade muffins.

These super PTA mommies piss me off beyond belief. They really need to go out and get jobs rather than creating all this make work for themselves to insure their social life!

Our moms didn't do this--they were busy living their own lives.And somehow neither we nor our teachers suffered.

I don't want my baby to grow up, but I will be very happy when we are out of the elementary school. The middle school PTA is a lot lower key--they have their little clique and they're happy to keep it that way!

Mayberry said...

You probably were supposed to dye your macaroons red, white and green. Didn't you know that?

Mad said...

Laughing. Particularly at your spectacular and deliberate juxtaposition of "diet" and "sweetened condensed milk".

Aunt Becky said...

I'd have sent a bag of Funyons and a box of Twinkies. But then again, no one ever wants MY help.

I wonder why...

kathy a. said...

taste tests? give me a break. i loved volunteering for school things, but nobody had anything on that level of insanity in mind.

bernthis said...

I am not involved with my kid's school much as I am a one income/almost no income family here and just cannot do much. I am very grateful to these women, very

thelass said...

Some of those PTA moms have a little too much time on their hands...yikes. Also, now I want a macaroon.

K said...

oh my goodness. YOu are welcome to come and join our PTA, where we slap together the teacher appreciation lunch the day before the event. Our PTA has just as many fathers as mothers, and we all work outside the home (almost all) No one has ANY time - I have yet to meet anyone involved who has too much time on their hands!

But our school has a nearly 70% poverty rate - so that brings a whole different set of problems.

When I read about PTAs like yours, I'm convinced that I life in an entirely different universe!