Skip to main content

Fall Festival Fail

Do you ever feel like all the other moms are better than you?  That they know what’s going on?  That they’re better prepared?  Do you always feel one step behind and like you just don’t rock these preschool parties as much as everyone else?

You are not alone.  I have an epic fall festival fail.

Yesterday across the country, moms classroom-hopped from one Halloween Fall Festival party to another.  I dutifully checked all emails and fliers sent home about the parties for my munchins.  I strode into my daughter’s preschool Fall Festival with the confidence of Mom of the Year, thinking I was precisely on time, only to discover, to my chagrin and my daughter’s future therapy, that I’d missed most of the festival.

While I’d been home wiping coffee directly onto my face to recharge after an all-night writing bender, she was the lone kid hanging out with the teacher while the other students ran around discovering all the fun carnival games with their moms.

I waved like a maniac when I spotted her on the playground and thought I’d nailed it, arriving just as they were coming out.  As I joined her and her sweet teacher handed me her treat bag, I realized she’d already been to all the stations at the festival and was now circling around the cake walk in some kind of fugue state.  Her eyes looked glazed over and she refused to smile at me.  Her teacher leaned over and whispered, “At first she didn’t want to do the cake walk, but now she won’t get out of the circle.  Good luck.”

I gently laid my hand on her shoulder.  “Hey, Evie.  Hey.  It looks like you already got cake.  Wanna show me some of the other stations at the festival?”

She shook me off and just kept shuffling her feet, ethereal in her Queen-Tara-from-Epic green and ivory floor length dress that Mommy didn’t make even though in another life she was a costume designer and totally could have if she had the appropriate amount of margin.

I finally extricated her from the circle of doom and she recovered enough to get her face painted with a bright red heart.  I looked around at all the moms and kids together and wondered how I’d screwed up.

While she was getting her face painted, I took out my phone.  I looked around and realized none of the other moms had their phones out and pretended to take a photo while I checked email.  I made a mental note to work on my iPhone addiction and learn to live in the moment.

I also took a real photo.

Wet, red heart.  Ivory dress.  Sure.  That’ll end well.

We climbed into the wagon for a hayride, where I proceeded to get my butt stuck in the crack between two bales of hay.  Evie asked if she could eat the pumpkin ring pop she won at one of the many games I’d missed and I was ready to tell her yes to whatever she wanted if she would stop looking at me with those woeful, accusatory eyes.

While she dripped sticky orange pumpkin ring pop saliva all over the side of my left arm and leg, I maneuvered out of the way of the greasy red heart on her cheek, painted with some kind of never-drying elixer.  I became aware that I was trapped on a crowded moving hay bale breathing diesel fumes while three-year-olds wearing greasepaint and dripping lollipops smeared both in my hair.

I started chatting up the other moms squished into the wagon.  They seemed content and satisfied with the wagon scenario and happy to receive their children’s orange gooey saliva.  I made another mental note to work on my tolerance for body fluids.

After the hayride, we paused for a class photo, in which Evie still would not smile, then went back to her classroom.  She is booking therapy sessions for the next forty years to process the day Mommy missed half her Halloween Fall Festival party.

When we arrived in the classroom I saw the spread of food for the party.  Pinterest had barfed all over the long table.  Peeled oranges and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches danced happily in the shape of little pumpkins. Orange Rice Krispie treat balls sported Tootsie Roll stems.  Green chocolate-dipped marshmallows with hair sprinkles grinned up at me on sticks.  They were judging me.

I signed up for juice boxes.  Nailed it.

The teacher talked us through the upcoming holiday festivities, and the end of the year is a gauntlet of parties and concerts.  She went over the list of needs for the Thanksgiving party, all of them crafty, and when I heard “reading a story,” as one of the signup choices, I threw myself at the room mom and breathlessly repeated over and over that I’d take that one until she agreed.

No shame.  I can read.  Don’t make me puffy paint.

As the other moms asked intelligent questions about curriculum and the proper use of safety scissors, I shoved a fistful of popcorn into my mouth, kissed my daughter goodbye, and dashed out the door to my son’s party down the hall.

When I got home I reread the email about the party.  “Please be there a little before 10:30.”  I arrived at 10:27.  Nailed it.

The other moms simply intuited that it would start early.  How did they do that?

Has anyone else ever had a school party fiasco?


image from