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A Reluctant Would-Be General In My School's Army of Moms

I love having a reason for hanging out at school. I enjoy watching the kids in the hall, mine and everyone else's. And I love having an official purpose, so that no one can stare at me wondering what's she doing here? Well, yeah, they can do that, but they can't kick me out, at least not on Mondays.

Monday is my day at the school's Publishing Center. The Publishing Center is where you can quietly word-process short stories written by schoolchildren aged 5 through 11, and make covers for the books these stories will comprise. It's not very challenging, and I mean that in a good way. It's just a little way of helping out.

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I'm one of the head honchos or, rather, "honchettes." I even have the key. I get to lock up. I'm very good at locking up. I haven't forgotten to once all year. My book covers leave a lot to be desired (covers require patience and a willingness to iron), my laminating skills are mediocre, and I'm a bit askew on the hole-punching machine. My main selling point is that I always show up.

But now, through some suburban version of the Peter Principle, I've been asked to run the Publishing Center next year.

I should be flattered, except that I suspect the Elementary School Council's search for the perfect leader is alphabetical, and the mothers whose last names both begin with "B" have already turned down the assignment. That leaves me and the mom whose last name starts with "S." I think the "S" mom is the far better candidate. She's the one who noticed someone had walked off with the scissors. She's the one who got not one but two replacement pairs from the school store, so she could be readily reimbursed.

She's also the one who attached undetachable labels to the scissors that say "Publishing Center." She has an eye for details. She pays attention, and she enjoys talking on the phone. That's a real plus for the job, since whoever runs the Publishing Center has to - you know - talk to people. About ordering supplies, about getting more moms to volunteer, about scheduling and rescheduling.

The "S" mom even called to let me know the scissors were missing and maybe I should bring in my own pair from home. (Of course I couldn't. Someone's walked off with our pair, too.)

HAD it been left to me, the Publishing Center would still be scissorless and work would be piling up and I'd be - oh, I don't know - typing up stories, I guess, and avoiding the book-binding part. Or else I'd be thinking of alternative ways to cut paper and fabric. Burning long holes in them with the iron. Biting them apart with my teeth. Leaving it for the Tuesday mom to figure out. This is not the m.o. of someone who can run something, except maybe into the ground.

I'm hoping they'll see the error of their ways and pass me over for promotion. Because if they don't, I may end up running the center next year, simply because I forgot to get back to them to say no.

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