Friday, June 25, 2010

Class Mom II- Step Up

I am running down the platform, hoping I do not miss the train. I glide past the doors as they slide close. I am huffing and puffing but the cool air of the train car quickly relaxes me. Tonight is the fifth grade step up, that means they move from the elementary school and into the middle school next year. There is a long tradition that the fourth grade classes supply the refreshments for the ceremony along with the parents setting up. As a class parent I volunteer to help and my son came along to assist and do his part. We walk over to the school and meet up with the organizing committee, which consists of one mom and her son and a car fresh out of the Costco parking lot. It looked like she just knocked over a bakery, plastic containers of cookies and brownies stacked high and platters of fruit lined up in the back seat. We unload the car quickly and proceed to make up the platters inside the school office. 

We are chatting in the room when the fifth grade chairperson enters and firmly instructs us to help set up outside, so outside we go. The school work crew seems to have the bulk of the work completed and the food in standby mode so we tablecloth the tables and set up some decorations. The fifth graders are all dressed in either baggy khakis or colorful dresses, and begin lining up against the building, giggly and excited to be honored tonight.  Parents seated inside, camera batteries charged and video in ready mode. As the ceremony goes on, we bring out tray after tray of the treats, fill the lemonade decanters, set up plates and utensils, preparing for the onslaught of kids and parents, hungry and celebratory. My son is peeking in on the happenings inside, taking mental notes as he will be participating next year. 

Then all of a sudden the roar of clapping escapes and a thunderous herd of people proceed onto the lawn and swarm over the food. I am standing behind the hot food table, quickly refilling trays of chicken fingers and bowls of rolls. I back away a bit from the table as the patrons surround the table from both sides. "Are there any knives?" "Where are the napkins?" I am pointing this way and waving that way like an orchestra conductor, answering questions and assisting kids. I notice an empty decanter on the far table and wave to another mom to refill. I see parents reaching down for water bottles, and instruct the crew to replenish. Things are going smoothly and without incident until I get word that there are no cups! The first rule in tactical catering is you can never have too many cups. The crew is now searching in every box and under tables for additional cups to no avail. I tell them to refill every bin with more water just to compensate for the cups. Kids ask me for cups and I tell them to take water bottles, drink half and refill with lemonade. Like a well planned viral marketing campaign, all the kids and even some parents begin to grab water bottles, drink some and head to the decanters for lemonade. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade! 

Food trays are almost empty and the event is winding down. We begin to consolidate some of the dessert trays, cookies battered and broken from being handled, fruit trays scattered with stray blueberries and squashed strawberries. Families make their way to their cars, some stopping to take a last group photo before the light dims and kids disappear for the summer. We begin the task of cleanup, parents reclaiming platters and serving items donated and the rest of the food will be rationed out to the night cleaning crew. I stand there throwing out some empty plates when a parent strikes up a conversation. "So do you have a girl or boy in the fifth grade?" "No," I reply, "I have a fourth grader, I am just doing my part to represent next years graduates." "Oh I did not know the parents did that." "Its all part of tradition, after all I am a class mom.", I answer. He thought about it for a bit, thanked me and walked away. I don't think I will see him again, except maybe at the eighth grade step up, when I will proudly be here helping out, refilling trays and reloading brownies, and gladly accept the responsibility of ordering the cups.



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