I’m not a PTA mom. Not anywhere close to it. No one would mistake me for one either. I don’t do parties and decorations and fundraisers and gift baskets for teachers. Really, in all the stereotypes you can imagine, wherever you’d place the dads is probably where you should place me.
But I am very curious. Especially when it comes to my children and their interactions with their peers. So when Jane joined the Stardusters dance lessons, I wanted to see how she did and what it was like.
The only parents allowed in during the dance, however, are the chaperones. And the only way you are allowed to chaperone is if you agree to help decorate for the dance. Only one parent has to show up for decorations in order to qualify both parents to attend the dance.
Score! I thought. I have to work. My husband can help decorate and I can still attend that night. Perfect.
But then the refrigerator died and he had to take care of it. I had already decided to help with decorating, again, just to see what it was like, but now I absolutely had to or we wouldn’t have a representative.
The first thing I noticed was that I got there ten minutes early and there were already 10-12 people and a tremendous amount of decoration already up. The next thing I noticed was the incredible attention to detail. Lots of bows and stars and sparkly things.
Eventually, after running Christmas lights and red tulle under all the chairs, I was given the task of decorating the little table in the hallway where the parting favors would sit.
The red table cloth was thin plastic and showed through to the hideously damaged table top. I asked for and received a solid white tablecloth to put under it. But the seventh grade taskmaster mom declared that she didn’t like the white tablecloth showing.
I put my thinking cap to work and used duct tape to secure the white tablecloth to the underside of the table so it didn’t show beyond the edges of the red cloth.
Then the eighth grade taskmaster mom handed me some puffy gold-glittered star garland and told me to use it to decorate the table. “Attach it in a way that looks cute. Don’t use ugly tape.”
As she walked away, I whimpered, “But I’m an ugly tape girl!”
I stared at the table and the two short strips of garland for a few minutes before wandering off to look for something else to do. One of the dads soon managed to step on a strand of lit Christmas lights, shattering one of the bulbs.
Repair work! I’m on it! I spent the next little while trying out replacement bulbs and repairing the lights. I then helped hang up the glittery red wrapping paper on the wall for the photo booth, earning me red glitter on my forehead that was all the rage at work later. Every once in awhile, I’d wander back over to the table and the garland to see if anyone had taken over. No one had.
Eventually, I used small pieces of tape to hold the garland in place in five locations around the edge of the table, letting the garland sag between each piece of tape. The eighth grade taskmaster paused at the table and scowled.
Before she could speak, I hastily said, “I’m going to cover the tape with bows!” She responded with a curt “good” before walking on.
I sighed in relief and then wondered exactly how I was going to make bows. I approached the seventh grade taskmaster, the kinder, gentler one, and asked if she knew how to make bows. I offered up some candidate silvery meshy stuff. I gathered some red pipe cleaners. She made a bow and we worked on wrapping it with the pipe cleaner before realizing that our get-up, while promising in appearance, was not going to cover my tape.
The tape was carefully removed, slightly ripping the plastic table cloth. I used that hole to poke the ends of the pipe cleaner through and then used the tape to secure the pipe cleaner to the ugly white tablecloth beneath.
I then tried my hand at her bow technique, making four more, none of which looked as good as the first. But the table earned a small nod of approval from the eighth grade taskmaster mom.
Ugly tape girl had succeeded.