The Cool Moms Club

In my extreme eagerness to dive into this whole suburban American minivan-driving, organic-food-championing, camp-organising supermom experience, I decided to attend the quarterly board meeting of my daughter Raeven's preschool yesterday.

This is when the committee members elected by the preschool, and the people paid to run it, would sit and talk about things like the shape of our finances, protocol, syllabus and leaky faucets. I presume this is pretty standard admin stuff.

Anyway, so the big question on your mind, my dear reader, would be:

Am I one of the members?


Then what in the name of all that is good and pure was I sticking my big nose in there for?

I don't know.

Our parent leader had invited everyone so I thought it would be good to go see what it was about. Turned out I was the only non-committee member who actually accepted the invitation.

Idiotic? I think so too.

I mean, it was Form One all over again. You walking into Interact/Drama club to discover a room full of seniors who give you that smile which seemed to say, "You're welcome so long as we can tolerate you". The friend who said she would go with you is nowhere to be seen and the only person you know is your class monitor everyone hates. You can't go home because your mom has driven off. More importantly, you know you HAVE to stay or suffer the label 'that weird new girl' the rest of the school year. And so you try to blend in with the furniture by choosing the most obscure seat at the BACK of the room by the stinky broom and dustpan, only to be dragged into the spotlight five minutes later to introduce yourself because you ARE the only strange face there. You stutter through like it's the first day you used your mouth to form actual words and then walk backwards while bowing apologetically for having ever presumed you were cool enough to intrude into this secret sacred cool kids club.  

Of course, I am 33 now. And acting 'cool' in the presence of tired mommies who'd spent the day chasing after toddlers isn't as bad. Or maybe I'm still covered by the "she's new to the country" policy, which is a Get Out of Ridicule Free card for all kinds of odd, unexplainable third-world behaviour (my unintelligible pseudo-British-Chinese gibberish, for one) and the asking of stupid questions such as "Why do you call it a lockdown?" (because we LOCK DOWN the doors?).

The culture shock is just non-stop! Anyone in my position would just sit quietly at home, act blur and hope there's enough food in the pantry to go through yet another month of never ever having to go out and actually interact with people, but no, not me! I say, bring it!

Anyway, the highlight of the evening wasn't me being grilled as to why I chose to enroll my child at the preschool (thank God!). The interesting bit began when the board started discussing what to do with a couple of parents who'd defaulted on their commitments to the preschool.

You must be wondering if I'd somehow enrolled Raeven into some sort of prep school cult but when you get your kid into a cooperative preschool, because of its very low fees (only 1/4 of the price of other private preschools in the county), you are signing up for many commitments that take your personal time and effort. You get not only school duties, but you must also attend monthly meetings, participate in school cleans, as well as organise activities such as fund raisers and so on.

Naturally, you get some parents who are just unwilling to do things like spend two hours to clean the school (even when it's only twice a year). You know how some ladies are, thinking this type of work is beneath them. I can just imagine back home, if our government schools were to start demanding that the parents of each child spend some time cleaning the school twice a year. We would take their kids to more expensive private schools so fast it would make the heads of headmasters/mistresses spin. That, or we'd hire an Indon maid to do the job for us.

Either way, we won't get our own hands dirty, that's for sure. Who cares if our kids learn in stinking rot!

So, all in all, it was an enlightening experience, to say the least. One thing's for sure: I'm gonna think twice before chickening out of any of my commitments. These committee ladies are scary.

Also, I cannot help but respect how initiatives such as this preschool started, and how the tradition has been passed on through the 30 or so years it has existed. Just a group of concerned mommies who pooled their resources together, hired some teachers, rented some space, so that kids of average-income families could also put their pre-kindergarten kids in school.

Just awesome.

Maybe some mommies in Malaysia can start!

Lia, you go!



  1. Hsian said

    It all sounds so “desperate housewive”-ish :)) and being single in KL, I can hardly say I understand completely. However, I have been in new places, new environments where I feel like a duck out of water and out of my element, and I just wanted to say Jen that I think it’s great you are sticking your neck out and trying to get involved, despite the cultural shock and all. After all, what we get out of a whole experience, is what we choose to invest in it. And I love that you are baring your insecurities, warts and all. You go girl! *hugs* hang in there 😉

  2. Kelantan Gal said

    Hey the “bring it” attitude is the only way to go!

    And feel free to use the “I’m new to the country/culture card” anytime. After 7 years in N. America, I still use it. And Boy have I learnt lots! I usually say in Malaysia we do this, how about here? Sometimes their eyes become as big as saucers…hahaha.

    It seems like you have a good group of people to hang with, and it’s not surprising, since Coop Mums have to have a certain mindset.

  3. Lia said

    Gasp! my name was mentioned… u know something.. It’s a very attractive idea… hmmmm…

    I love reading ur blogs hun 🙂 hugs hugs

  4. Min said

    Jenn, you don’t know how attractive that idea is but you’ve put it in a nutshell how parents in Malaysia work here:

    Guess who will be sent to clean the schools!

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