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Girl from the East goes to a co-op preschool. What this means to the uninitiated is that in exchange for ridiculously affordable tuition, the parents provide everything from the food for snacks, some of the classroom supplies, and the cleaning and light maintenance of the classrooms, hallways, entrances and gardens. We hold bimonthly board meetings, volunteer a few hours a month as classroom assistants and we all have a set fund-raising commitment.

When I signed up for this a year ago, I was all oh-yeah-baby excited about the idea of a co-op. It seemed like such a tight-knit, socially involved community. I ignored words like fund-raising commitment per family and active involvement. I focused on words like school as in Girl is not-at-home, and school as in she’ll be occupied for a few hours a week so I can get stuff done and maybe work a little bit.

After almost a full year into the program, I feel like a co-op failure. We are behind (although not as behind as some families) in our fund-raising. We have our super deluxe extravaganza fund-raiser thingy this weekend. Each family was asked to rustle up some donations from local businesses, put our talents to work and create something at home, or purchase some items and make our own festive gift baskets. We also were supposed to be peddling the tickets to all our friends and families to boost attendance. I’m sure there was something else, too, but I forgot.


As of today, a mere three days from the event, I’ve done exactly nothing. Sure, I’ll go to Costco and buy a few jugs of juice and some massive bags of pretzels and veggie sticks for the kiddie snack table. I’m on board for clean-up after the shindig. I bought two tickets, one for me and one for my husband.

I made a feeble attempt to get a local business to donate a gift certificate or gift basket.  I visited in person, handed the owner one of our handy-dandy fliers with all the details and then waited. And waited. After an unanswered phone call, I just gave up. I’m guessing the deafening silence is a “no.” I know, a true salesperson would take that no and turn it into a yes with sprinkles. But, I am not a salesperson. Not now. Not ever.

Now I’m walking on pins and needles. The event is only days away. I have neither the time nor the energy to do whatever it is I’m supposed to be doing to make up for lost time. I like volunteering in the classroom. I like the social element of the school even if I’ve not participated in many of the events. I do not like all this fund-raising. I’ve been through 11 years of it with Girl from the West. I think it’s possible to burn out on fund-raising.

Next year, I’m taking the early buyout option. I’ll pay upfront my family’s obligation and wash my hands of flower bulb catalogs, cookie dough tubs, pizza kits and wrapping paper booklets.

But I’m not sure I can get off that easy. I  sense a moral scale, some ethical yardstick at work behind the scenes tirelessly weighing and measuring commitment to the cause. The results, I’m sure, are published in the Big Book of Gossip.

I’m crossing my fingers that next year will be different, that I’ll go in knowing what to expect and make more of an effort to add my co to this op. Otherwise, it’s just been a co-oops.

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