Cutting the Apron Strings. Parental Advisory on

Cutting the Apron Strings

Do I really have to make something for the school bake sale?

by Rebecca Odes & Ceridwen Morris

November 11, 2009



My first child started Pre-K this year and within a few weeks I was asked to make something for the school bake sale. There’s a strict nut restriction policy and they require every item to be labeled with ingredients. This means that I can’t pick things up from random bakeries and it seems like supermarket cupcakes are frowned upon even if they are nut-free. I hate baking. So does my husband. I have an enormous workload this fall. I just got through a long phase-in (which I appreciated, my daughter appreciated, but my boss did not appreciate). I want to “contribute” to my daughter’s school and show that I care but I feel very put out by this. And frankly I find it sexist. I don’t want my motherhood tested in the kitchen. It’s really stressing me out but perhaps I’m putting too much into it. You guys seem to have a handle on the parenting scene out there – is this bake sale a hint of what’s to come for me? Should I raise a stink? Am I being a diva?

Lost My Perspective in the Baking Ingredients Aisle

Dear Lost,

The hardcore bake sale scene does put the pressure on. But we are here to give some perspective: You are not required to bring home the bacon, bake it into muffins and provide a notarized letter re: the provenance of every ingredient. No matter how much the class rep to the parenting association nudges.

That’s the good news. The bad news is, this is only the beginning. You *and your husband* will be asked to give time, skills, money, rummage, canned food, gently used books and/or small bits of flesh year after year for as long as your child is part of the educational system. (Unless you move somewhere where schools actually get enough money from the government to perform up to the standards of the parents who send their children there.) The expectation varies depending on where your kid is in school, but it’s pretty much a given that parents are expected to help out somewhat. Some take this super-seriously. Many others blow it off, for lack of time or lack of interest.

One suggestion we’d make is to try to loosen the symbolic reins a little. Sometimes a bake sale is just a bake sale. Yes, it emerged from a time of more prescribed gender roles, but really, people just like cake. For every parent who dreads the pie tin, there’s another who dreads the fancy dress auction, or the softball game at the class picnic. If you can’t deal with baking, don’t bake. Buy something and hand it over with your head held high (and the ingredients conveniently preprinted on the package!) Or beg off. We can assure you that you will not be the only one who shows up empty-handed that morning. And we can also assure you that there will be many opportunities for you to be of service to your child’s school. We can’t guarantee you’ll hate those any less, but they probably won’t require you to wear an apron.

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