As a parent of a school-age child you often find yourself roped into school-related volunteering. It’s always for a good cause but it’s time-consuming and more work than you thought it would be when another mom, or the smiling principal, strong-armed you onto the team.
And so for the last several months myself and three other Grade 1 moms have been spearheading a new playground at our kids’ school. The current playground is more ashphalt than parkland. It has no trees for shade, nowhere to sit, is riddled with ankle hazards (gopher holes) and has a rather ghetto/penitentiary-like feel to it, what with the net-less basketball hoops and in-need-of-paint exterior of the school’s 1960s-era addition. Plus the equipment has reached its best-before date and is deemed unsafe by the Calgary Board of Education.
Before you wonder what I’m complaining about and how rum punch could sabotage the process, let me tell you that designing and building a new playground is not about flipping through a Little Tykes brochure and ordering equipment. No. It’s about engaging the community, parents, teachers and students in the process. It’s about working with a landscape architect to naturalize the space so it no longer looks like a prison yard. You want a play area the kids will love and the community can be proud of; not one that invites vandals with spray paint at 3 a.m.
Building a new playground also requires a lot of money. Like, hundreds of thousands of dollars. So, this year our school’s Kitchen Party fundraiser was dedicated to the new playground. We on the playground committee thought this would be a perfect time to have our captive audience fill out playground surveys, plot dots on a playground map and leave the party with brochures to bring to their employers to hit up for cash.
I think all of that would have happened, if it hadn’t been for the rum punch. Several months ago Kitchen Party organizers asked me if I could make a signature cocktail for the event; something festive that nodded to New Orleans and Mardi Gras. I love rum punch so this was a no-brainer. I also make it really strong, like they do in Barbados, home of Mount Gay rum (Select Wines & Spirits donated a case of Mount Gay Eclipse to our cause).
What ended up happening was this: everyone drank a lot of rum punch. Then everyone lined up for tequila shooters. No one filled out surveys. No one plotted dots on a map or walked away with a colour brochure to ask their employer for a cash donation. Instead, sombreros were worn and we danced the night away.
But everyone in attendance sure spent a lot on booze, and that night, for the first time, I was having a blast on the playground committee. If it takes a village to raise a child, it requires an inebriated one to raise money for a new playground.