Friday, June 6, 2008

The Mommy Mafia

Every school has one ... a Mommy Mafia. They control the parent council, the volunteer committees, the school trips, the graduation committee. Woe to those hapless females outside the enchanted circle who get in their way.

Silly me thinking I would spontaneously drop in on a pizza lunch at my daughter J's school and help out on a Friday in June.

I will blame D, a terrific dad whom I only know casually from the neighborhood here in Riverdale. He has a terrific disposition and is liked by all. He is also heavily involved in almost all school activities. He has such a bright, sunny disposition that it appears that he has become an honorary member of the Mommy Mafia ... I ran into him at the grocery store on my day off. He was in a big hurry, trying to get to the school by 11.30 to help with the lunch.

Do you need help? I asked. Shamefully, I had not thought to volunteer my services in advance even though I had scheduled a day off. I had only done one lunch before and was uncomfortable in that only one mom, a mother of my daughter's friend, deigned to speak with me during the whole lunch.

Yes, but you could speak to them ... yes I guess I could except this bunch engages in a sort of game where they won't look at you directly. It's sort of like ... if I don't see you then I don't have to acknowledge you and talk to you ... therefore, technically, I'm not being rude. So, usually, they don't "see" me.

I have volunteered in the classroom with some of them, I have been at house parties with others, or the yearly fun fair, their kids are in my daughter's class. Still, nothing.

Okay I say, girding my loins ... just get in there. I move to an empty space at a table where they are distributing goodies for lunch.

Do you need help here? I ask.

Uh, no, one of them says.

Hmm, as she offers no further direction about what to do or whom to speak to, I decide that I ain't going anywhere.

As the kids file in they quickly grab a juice box and a bag of chips. I am further down the table so I begin to have many more items in front of me than the other two women. They start to grab things from my end and move them down to their end, presumably to facilitate the kids grabbing the stuff off the table.

Would you like these things moved down? I ask. Nothing. No response.

I ask again, Would you like these things moved down the table? This time some mumbled, incoherent response. Still no eye contact.

The juice and chips rapidly disappear. The kids chomp away happily at pizzas. The volume increases as they finish up and are itching get out into the sunshine.

One or two kids come back for a second helping of something ... a five minute interrogation ensues. The kid holds fast, he wants another drink, he ain't moving. One of the mommies stands firm. This will likely start an avalanche of other kids swarming the table for an additional drink. I get it. No juice for you kid.

Plus they are saving the dregs for the volunteering parents. Finally she relents and gives him a drink - the parents divvy up the remaining pizza. Did I get any - are you crazy - first I show up unannounced and then try and take their pizza? Uh, no.

I have nothing to do. I start to clear the tables. Picking up the garbage, recycling the juice boxes, wiping tables.

I see a friendly face, finally, it's S, a lovely woman, an artist, very sweet. Two sons. Nice vibe. We chat for a bit. Clear away things together. Still no reaction from the cabal.

I hear they meet every Friday afternoon at each other's houses for drinks. My friend D, equally unhappy with this group, had alerted me to this in wonderment. Oh another specimen of their inclusiveness, meetings are usually scheduled in the middle of the day effectively eliminating full-time working moms with inflexible schedules.

I can guess who's there at the Friday soirees ... the one that snitched on the grade four girls who committed the atrocity of throwing around pieces of ginger during lunch one time (the girls all got detentions and a note home for that transgression), the one who weeps in class when some of the kids have not brought their instruments during music appreciation, the one that seems to cut her own hair with garden shears, the under-employed actress, the one addicted to jogging, the aspiring writer who spends half the day writing, half the day in the gym ... hmm if she spent more time on her writing rather than her ...

Okay, I'm done, I think. That's it. I am out the door of the gym when I hear a faint thank you from someone.

But then again, I could have been imagining it.


Unknown said...

"... a sort of game where they won't look at you directly. It's sort of like ... if I don't see you then I don't have to acknowledge you and talk to you ... therefore, technically, I'm not being rude. So, usually, they don't "see" me."

This mafia certainly gets around! Reminds me of all those "Mommy and Me" classes I took The Bambina to when she was between 1 and 2. I felt like I was back in high school (and grade school, too). Do the cliques ever end?

But, on a more positive note, I'm glad S was there for you, as a shining example of humanity and decency. And I hope you grabbed something good to eat on the way home!

A Lit Chick said...

This is so worrisome sometimes especially when you want to be more involved with your child's school - but I will forge on! :)