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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Valentine's Dance

This year being in charge of the school family Valentine's Dance wasn't as terrifying as it was last year when I was the untrained, uninitiated head of the ship.  This time around I was still nervous I would forget something important, that something piece of the planning would be skipped (Did we clear the gym for after school?  Do we have coat racks and hangers to borrow?  Do we have someone to pick them up? Do we have enough food?  How much food did we need anyway?).  But in general as the dance approached I felt fairly relaxed and on top of things. 
And then we got the massive 'nor easter and I had to decide about cancelling or postponing. I had to once again send out flyers again to the 353 students in the school (I had already sent out the initial invite and the reminder just days prior to the snowstorm).  I had to get permission from the school to change the date, call the photographer, contact all my volunteers and take over the food organizing because the mom who was heading it up couldn't come once it was changed.  I basically had to go back and do everything all over again.   Plus the extra week had me tweaking and re-tweaking the dance play list. It is hard to say the hours I spent getting that just right.
I went from relaxed and chilled to a little bit of a stress case. I was jittery like someone who had had too much coffee. Wait, I had had way too much coffee.
And of course, I had signed myself up to make cookies. I know, I just can't help myself.  But can't you see why?
This is what Maya and I did Friday after lunch before we were due at the school for dance set-up:
I just want to say how much I LOVE that Maya likes to help me do this stuff. She takes it very seriously and is so proud of her work.

Well caffeinated and fingers crossed that I had everything I needed, we headed to the school.  I had gotten several emails from people telling me they couldn't make it.  On my way in to school, I passed a mom who apologized that she couldn't stay.  I thought I might cry.  There is simply too much work to do alone. 

Yet, to my amazement,  there was a group of parents there ready to work.   Some had been there last year and knew what to do.  For the others I gave them the lay of the land and told them they had complete creative freedom.  And then, seriously, every time I turned around another corner or wall was done.  It was a beautiful thing. 

I learned a lot from last year.  The tiny lanterns that hung singlely from the suspended ceiling frame that held the unseeable twinkling light inside?  Forget that. We hung the lanterns in groups, saving tons of time and put the battery operated lights on the table.  The tissue paper flowers that hung on a strand of fishing line over the food table? Nixed.  We scattered them on the walls.  We had a couple of parents bring their own ladders since last year that was a lot of waiting around for a ladder  I asked around until I found someone to bring an air compressor so we wouldn't have to blow up all the balloons by mouth like we did last year.  (I had brought my little one that blows up our air matress but it didn't work and we were left to the use of our lungs - that is how committed this group is.)

This year we got all the food donated and spent way less on decorations than last year, which should translate into a bigger profit for the PTO. I try to remind myself that the dance is fun in and of itself, but it is meant to be a PTO fundraiser.  I also got wise this year and asked the photographer to adjust his rates so the PTO could get a portion of his business.  I am anxious to see what the bottom line will be when it's all said and done.

I was enormously grateful for the two moms who hung the disco ball and its accompanying lights. This is by far the one thing that is entirely daunting to me. I simply do not have a brain that can latch on to the mechanics of hanging, mounting and the intricacies of electricity. You can show me how you did it but I likely won't remember for next year.  If you would just hang it and make it work, I will be forever in your debt.

Ashley and Billy, the twins parents, came to help out.  Many hands make light work.
Last year we started the decorating just after school (3 pm) and didn't finish until 8:30.  This year we were done by 6:30.  I was so proud of this group and so grateful for their help.  We had fun, listened to music and laughed.  The kids ate the pretzels and Goldfish I had brought, kicked balls around and ran the loop of the hallway, giggling and sweating and shedding layers as they went.   It makes me feel so blessed to be a part of this school community.

It is hard to show in pictures since it looked best in the dark.

I also want to say a huge thank you to Kohls.  Kohls has this program called the A-team (associates in action) where non-profit organizations that benefit children are eligible for the voluntary assistance of Kohls employees for an event plus a $500 grant.  They came once again this year and are just awesome.  Two women headed up the food table so no parents had to do that and miss their kids at the dance.  Another man, Richard, has come each year from before I was in charge of the dance and has taught me a ton about setting up the gym.  He was quite tickled that I had requested him by name this year.  He was at the school waiting for me to show up the afternoon of the dance, about an hour before his three hour block shift.  I just adore people like him. 
Ella holding the 50 helium balloons our local hardware store, Schact's, donated.  It was fun to hold them. You could actually feel the pull. 

As you can see, the girls had a wonderful time. 

Sandi flew in at 1, visited with us for a bit and then took a quick nap (she'd been up for 36 hours) while we headed to the school for last minute set up.  To the girls' delight she made it to the dance.  It was incredibly rewarding to see all the kids running, dancing, laughing on the dance floor with joy stamped all over their faces.  So many parents thanked me.  And a solid cluster of moms were out there with me dancing to the "YMCA." I also did a little Cotton-Eyed Joe.  But when the flashmob song came on, I held it in so as to not embarrass my child.

When the last song had played, I glanced around at all the hard work on the walls, the ceiling, the tables and sighed as I looked toward clean-up.  But the parents dug in and within 40 minutes the gym was clean and, except for some overflowing trash cans, it looked like we had never been there. It had snowed all afternoon and I dreaded the thought of driving around the back of the school in the dark to unload everything into the PTO shed with my danskos swallowed in snow. My friend Jess's husband Andrew offered to go with me.  He pointed his car so his headlights would shine on the shed, carried the heavy stuff and shone a flashlight so we could see where we were putting stuff. 

Sometimes all you really need is someone to hold the flashlight.

When I came home with arm loads of dirty platters and bowls to be washed and bags of all my own stuff I had taken for the dance, the girls were happily eating at the table with Sandi.  They thanked me for putting on the dance.  The relief I felt was like surfacing from the depths and gasping air into compressed lungs.  Sandi was home.  The dance was over.  I had made it.  I had done it.  And we were all okay. 

Sandi and I stayed up to talk for as long as we could before our burning eyes and dropping lids pushed us to bed.  We were asleep by 9:30 and it felt like 2 in the morning.


1 comment:

Zoe Kreitzer said...

One of these days I'm going to get you a cape. You should clearly be wearing one at all times.

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