Thursday, January 11, 2007

Swim Technique and "Ick Factor"

Swimming is all about technique. Spending a lot of time on drills is the best way to smooth out your stroke, and be more fish-like in the water. Some people use an assortment of gadgets like fins and paddles and such. I hear that works, but I usually just do the drills that require no apparati. (is that plural for apparatus?)
Anyway, I had an abbreviated swim this morning because I was on the phone with a friend who was consoling my fuming mind about our school's fundraiser. Here's what I need to vent about.

The Ick Factor

We've been at this school since pre-K for both Bobby and Ally. This is our fifth year; the school opened its doors six years ago. So we've almost been there since the beginning. I've been on the committee for our Spring Gala every year, so I of course volunteered again this year. But it's different this year -- I hate it.

There are several people that are new to Providence that came here from other private schools, and they were on the fundraising committees there. I think they did things differently at their old schools, and I hate that they want us to do it "their" way at "my" school.

Yes, I called it "my" school. I feel that way. Most of the parents feel that way. Even the kids take ownership of the culture here. Each day I walk up that gorgeous sidewalk to that special place and some kid I often don't even know opens the door for me. Kids I do know say, "Hi, Mrs. Moore!" I love the place and I feel like the place loves me.

The founding families - just a handful of people - built this school for us. It was a gift. The generosity around here is mind-blowing. Those founding families don't even know my kids and to look around and see what they have given to US PERSONALLY. I get teary driving up the driveway sometimes. Considering the backgrounds that I and my husband come from - this is just an indescribable gift.... Anyway, the theme of the Gala this year is "We are Family". I love that. I have always felt like family even when I am sitting among some of the wealthiest, most influential parents in the country. One father is one of President Bush's advisors and they talk fiscal policy while flying on Air Force One. Another is #12 in the Forbes Wealthiest Americans list. One founding family owns a winery in Napa - wine you and I drink probably at least once every year. And the guy who invented the bar code system AND that magnetic stip on the back of your hotel room key and credit card? He gave us this place and his kids are here. Big people. Rich people. But if I hadn't been told "who" these people were, I would have never guessed it in a million years. Never once have they made me feel inferior.

But these new people do.

Here's a sampling of what's being discussed in the last three Gala meetings. Try not to hurl if you are wearing anything special:

1). Let's monitor the donated items because we don't want any (insert visual grimace that could only mean "lesser") items. Let's not open it up to just "anything". We want high ticket, good items.

2). Let's hit up X-person (I'm omitting his name because he's a professional sports athlete on a team here in Minneapolis) -- last year he only gave an iPod. He needs to be giving more than that.

3). Last year's idea to have the 4th grade students make a cookbook was a good idea, but c'mon - it had spiral binding. It was unattractive. It only sold for $225. It was our cheapest item of the night. [gasp - since when is $225 for a cookbook not good enough???????]

4). Someone suggested we offer internships to upperclassmen. [awesome idea] Does anyone own a business or know someone who does who'd like to have an unpaid intern shadow them and "work" for them for two weeks. My girlfriend, sitting right next to me in the meeting, said her husband is an oral surgeon, and he'd probably love to show a kid what he does. [he once wired back-together the face of another friend of mine who had an accident and fell on his face, breaking his jaw in several places and chipping out most of his front teeth]. Mean Girl looked at my GF, stared blankly at her, and then turned her head away to the rest of the group and said, I meant, like, A.W. is vice president of a bank that her family started. I think that's the kind of internships we are looking for. [gasp - did Mean Girl just tell my GF that what her hubba does is not good enough? besides, I think watching surgery surely would be at least as interesting as attending fiscal planning meetings and lunches and staring over someone shoulder while they read Excel spreadsheets. But really, how rude was that?]

5). Ticket prices. Some parents don't attend the Gala because the tickets are too expensive. [last year they were $125 per person]. So this year we are sending out a "sliding scale" ticket. You will have the option of paying $50, $100, $200, or $400 per person for the party. [I'm sorry, but if I receive a ticket in the mail that offers me a sliding scale, I will be insulted. I'd expect to see that from a social worker at a womens health clinic in the city, but not on my school's party invite].

So it's the "ick" factor that is just unpallateable for me. I love this place and I know I shouldn't let these Mean Girls change that. But I've never seen people behave this way. It's a level of snobbishness that I think is disgusting. So if the cheapest item last year sold for $225, and they want to change up the assortment so that there is nothing that "cheap", then I and "poor folks" like me won't get to have any fun in the Silent Auction. And that's fun to do! Sorry, Mean Girls, but there are a lot of people - like me - who used to feel good about winning even a $60 item, knowing the money went to our school. The Live Auction items can be as pricey as you want, but leave at least the Silent Auction to the "poor folks"!

So if you've taken the time to read this, and thanks if you have, please offer your suggestion: do I:

a). bail out and quit now, or
b). continue with what I committed to do (sew spirit-themed pillows), and just smile and nod and try to fly under the radar. It's so icky to me that I don't even want my name in the book as being part of the committee.