Book Review: ‘Class Mom’ by Laurie Gelman

Class Mom by Laurie Gelman

Class Mom by Laurie Gelman

Being the class mom seems like a piece of cake. Until you try to wrangle the parents…

Hello. My name is Suzette Valle, and I am a recovering class mom.

I couldn’t resist writing a review about Laurie Gelman’s new book, “Class Mom.” The title simply screamed at me. It was wagging a finger right in my face and excoriating me for having been that mom: class mom, team mom, P.T.A. board member, etc., etc., etc.

Taking on the volunteer position of class mom starts off with the best intentions. I can help this teacher. I want to help the teacher. She’s teaching my kid, for god’s sake! It’s the least I can do. The enthusiasm is flying out of your ears on the first week of school. You imagine the Halloween and Holiday parties you’ll help organize; the bake sales and teacher appreciation gifts will be grand.

Then something odd happens. The rest of the class parents also want to contribute. All 25 of them. All adults. Your inbox is flooded with emails full of Pinterest ideas for the celebrations. Things reach a fever pitch by Columbus Day.

What did I get myself into?

Here’s the first question, have you ever been the class mom? Yes.

Second question, would you choose to do it again? No.

In CLASS MOM, a debut novel that is funny and rings oh-so-true, Laurie Gelman serves up the trials and tribulations of being the designated wrangler of parents. Set in a suburb of Kansas City, the novel tells the story of Jen Dixon, a “senior mom” who takes on the job one more time, as her youngest child, Max, starts kindergarten.  Gelman artfully captures a class mom’s balancing act as the primary liaison between the teacher to the other parents, and how even a grown woman can be driven to mainlining lattes over the ministrations for curriculum night, class picture day and the ever-looming year-end teacher gift.

Laurie Gelman  a 25-year veteran of broadcasting who has worked in radio and in TV, knows whereof she speaks having been the class mom many times, and sent almost word-for-word many of the emails in the book.

She considers being a class mom the hardest job she’s ever had.

Back in my day, classrooms still had Halloween parties. It was a given. Costumes, cookies, and candy were freely handed out in the classroom. Gasp! Fast-forward to 2017. Now, bake sales have been outlawed, and most holiday-related classroom celebrations have been slapped with a PC rating. Hence, this email exchange between Mrs. Dixon and Miss Ward, the kindergarten teacher:

To: Miss Ward

From: JDixon

Date: 10/25

subject: Halloween Party??

Hi, Miss Ward,

I know you’re busy, but I never heard from you about planning a Halloween party fo rthe kids. Do you want to pull something together?

Thanks, Jennifer

Ms. Ward’s almost-immediate reply:

To: JDixon:

From: PWard

Date: 10/25

Subject: Halloween Party

Hi Jenny,

I didn’t see a request from you, but just so you know, I only have parties when I think the kids deserve them — not because Hallmark tells me it’s a holiday. By the way, when will you have my conference schedule ready?

Keep up the good work!

Peggy

Ouch! I’m not sure what I would have replied to this back in 1997. But Gelman’s Mrs. Dixon didn’t skip a beat. She immediately jumps on the conference schedule. And her scheduling process is hilariously evil.

I knew that first slot on Thursday would be a popular one, because there’s no school the next day: It’s a great opportunity to take a long weekend somewhere. I have three people who insist that it is imperative they have it, so obviously none of them is getting it. I know, I’m a bi*@! If any of them had asked for the spot instead demanded it, it would have been theirs. As my mother always says, ask me to do anything. Don’t tell me to do anything. As I type, I count the number of enemies I’m about to make. Ah, heavy is the head that wears the crown. 

I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed reading “Class Mom.” It brought back some cherished memories about my days in the classroom cleaning desks with Clorox wipes, and making sure kids Purelled their hands before touching any classroom materials. On the flip side, I’ve blocked any recollection of unending email threads discussing teacher gifts, field trips, gift-wrap fundraisers, and pizza parties.

Class Mom” should be required reading for parents, especially if your hand has a tendency to shoot straight up at the first call for a volunteer. After reading this hilarious account of one mom’s quest to tame the classroom parent mob, you’ll likely zip-tie your arms together behind your back before you attend the next parent night.

“Don’t miss this hilarious send-up of parental politics” —People Magazine

“Class Mom” by Laurie Gelman

Henry Holt and Company

Disclosure: I received a complimentary advance copy of Laurie Gelman’s book, “Class Mom.” But as you well know, all opinions are my own.

 

 

Comments

  1. The struggle is real, right?! Sounds like a fun read that will resonate with many 🙂

  2. I haven ‘t heard of this book, but obviously I’m about to go find it. This sounds amazing, especially if you’re that UN-PC mom…I’ll raise my hand. Thanks for letting me know about this!

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