Friday, December 07, 2007

Drama Mommas
Boy, has it been an interesting few weeks in MOMS Club. Our chapter is a really easy going, down to Earth & friendly group. We rarely have any sort of drama. Granted, some people get along better with some more than others, but it hasn't been out of control, until now, that is.

The catalyst to the meltdown was right before Thanksgiving. We have 3 out of 4 very active playgroups & 2 of them were growing so much that they were getting a little overcrowded. Logan & I attend one of the expanding groups. In our playgroup, there are 12 kids. Our house is not that big & it does get a little crazy with 12 kids running around & 12 moms squished into our living room. Naturally, there began discussions of a split. Our playgroup is a very tight nit group & there was a lot of resistance to a split, even though we were too big. Many people wanted their cake & to eat it too, by suggesting that the playgroup be closed to any new members & the new members would have to form their own group. Being an executive board member, I got to hear it all from everyone & tried to do as much damage control as possible.

Right before Thanksgiving, we had a board meeting to discuss the playgroup splits & we made a very fair & logical decision on how to do it. We all agreed on our decision & it was pretty clear cut. Shortly after the meeting on our designated playgroup day, the club was sent an email from our playgroup coordinator with a decision on the split that was completely different than what the board agreed upon. It pretty much benefited her & only her with disregard to how it effected anyone else. It was all that was talked about at playgroup & people were pretty upset that our playgroup coordinator was dictating more than coordinating. Our group turned to me & another board member who is also in our playgroup, hoping for answers. We were as confused as the rest of them since this wasn't what we voted on. This is when it hit the fan.

Our co-presidents had to send out a follow up email stating that this was not a final decision & it was something the club was going to vote on. Not too long after that, our playgroup coordinator sent out an email stating that this was a final decision & she had consulted our presidency. There was a whole lot of confusion & playgroup anarchy started to develop. It was all we talked about for 2 weeks & then one of the moms in our group stepped up & emailed the playgroup on Wednesday, opening up a dialog for all of us to come to a consensus on how to split. The email conversation had accidentally been forwarded to our playgroup coordinator.

There were no personal remarks in this email conversation, only playgroup members offering concrete suggestions on how to split, for example, by birth dates, alphabetical order or location. It was a very positive & productive conversation, but not according to our coordinator who chose to respond with this:

Hi [playgroup],

Please read the comments below [playgroup] so that you know where this email is coming from. I was truly hoping that I would not have to say this to your group, but I have been aware for some time that you weren't leaving me many options.

I do realize that not all of you were culprits in this, and do apologize to you for having to endure the disrespect that the other members of your playgroup are showing you at this point.

To those people:

First - it is NOT your responsibility to decide how your playgroup is structured. That is my job. I specifically asked you all for suggestions for your group. None of you sent me any. Not the right way to go about effecting change.

Second: It is this type of conversation that is making some newer members very uncomfortable when they come into your group. I am very concerned about that aspect of it. It is not a welcoming environment. If you insist on acting this way (this is not the first time I have addressed this with the [playgroup] group), I will decide how to split you up, and my decision will be final - you will have no input. I will not have new members coming to me feeling intimidated by a playgroup - that is NOT ACCEPTABLE.

Third: From this email onward, if you have questions, comments or suggestions, they will come to me, not the rest of your playgroup and most certainly NOT WHILE YOU ARE AT PLAYGROUP. I have no qualms about breaking this group up for the betterment of the club, so please don't force my hand on this issue. I am very tired of hearing this, and very disappointed at hearing this from your playgroup. Playgroup is NOT a forum for you to complain about all you see wrong. It is for your children to play, to meet and make new friends, and for you the parents, to create a safe, positive environment for all kids involved to grow and develop in.

I have discussed this at length with the Club Presidents. They know how I feel about this issue, and share my growing concern at how unwelcoming you've made your playgroup for newer members.

I do not apologize for the tone of this email. I am very upset at your group, and the manner in which you continue to flaunt the playgroup guidelines I have sent to you and discussed with you numerous times before now. You are welcome to call me and discuss this. Please, no more emails.

Thank you and remember - we were ALL new members not so long ago. Try to recall how you felt in a group of clique-y members....it is very uncomfortable. Why would you want to make others feel this way? Quite simply, you shouldn't want them to feel that way. You all need to have a little self-reflection time going into playgroup in 2008 to make it better for everyone.


Immediately, my phone began ringing off the hook. Between being busy with filing the complaint to the labor board & a sick Logan fussing & screaming at me all day long, I had to answer call after call from angry playgroup members, venting to me about what they just read. People were up in arms about being talked to like this when all that was going on was a group conversation to find a solution that benefited everyone in our group, rather than our coordinator acting like a playgroup Nazi.

This morning we held an emergency board meeting to resolve the issue. It was going to be proposed that the playgroup coordinator be removed from her position, but instead she stepped down herself last night. We met for about 3 hours working on solutions & smoothing things over. We'll have a meeting at our playgroup next week to tie up loose ends & after that, the crisis is over.

4 comments:

Jezer said...

Dude, what the? Presidents, boards, coordinators, oh my. It's a playgroup, right? What ever happened to calling a gal or two up with "Wanna meet at the DQ for ice cream and gossip while the kiddies play?"

That is some cuh-rayzee stuff right there.

Kristin said...

I know, it's nuts & it never had to get to this point if the playgroup Nazi didn't go off the deep end.

I think all of the different positions in the organization make it run as smooth as it does; the playgroup coordinator organizing hosting houses for each playgroup every week & managing each groups size. The board comes in handy to do damage control & make decisions in the best interested of the club, especially when you have a controlling personality in an organizational position.

With a group of 52 women plus kids, weekly playgroups wouldn't be as successful as they are now if it was spur of the moment phone calls (even though many of us get together like this anyway).

Smurfett said...

wow, she had some control issues.

Jaime said...

This is why I lived out in the boonies and am not part of any groups.

I know it's hard sometimes for the kids but they have each other and if we all go out to the park they don't seem to notice.

This sounds awful, that woman has issues.