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What’s The Craziest School Request You’ve Ever Received?

Hey GEM’s – it’s Guest Posting time again – and I think you’re gonna love this one!

As someone who barely ever cooks (thanks Buff!) I can certainly identify with this mom’s dilemma… take a read and start sharing your stories below… we’ve all been there, haven’t we!

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The recent note that came home from school is the type I hate the most.

Not the “Your son needs to work on his handwriting” variety.

Nor the “Children enrolled in after-school extra-curriculars require a parent classroom volunteer 2 times a month” kind.

Not even the “Please be aware a student in your child’s class has been sent home with lice” warning.

No, this note was far more disturbing…

It began with a simple request for candy so the second graders could decorate gingerbread houses for the holidays.  I let go of my wish that the school would acknowledge ALL December holidays and offer dreidel-making, a bit more familiar to my family than gingerbread houses, and got into the spirit of the holiday by debating our donation: spearmint leaves for trees or Sno-Caps for the roof?  Having difficulty deciding, I purchased both.  But then came the request for white frosting.  Not just any kind of white frosting, but the kind you make yourself at home with egg whites, sugar and something called cream of tartar (which sounds like something your dentist scrapes off your teeth at your bi-annual visit).

“No store-bought please!” the note reprimanded.  “Get out your beaters!”

Apparently, this type of request – the kind that throws me into the early symptoms of a panic attack – inspires other mothers to research and discuss healthy frosting options on Facebook. (Buttercream vs. ganache?  Truvia vs. Stevia?  Whipped vs. fondant?) Who has time for such debate?  And what the heck is “ganache” anyway?

Some background will help you better understand my dilemma.  I am not a mom who cooks.  I am a mom who “prepares,” who “assembles,” who “arranges,” but I do not cook.  When I was a child, my favorite activity was arranging the cookie platter at family gatherings, but I never once baked those cookies myself.  And I certainly do not bake these days, unless you consider popping out those pre-made batter drops onto a cookie sheet “baking.”  Sometimes, I even cut them off of that big log-like thing; that is, when I’m not just eating the dough raw.  So, homemade frosting, difficult or not, is way out of my comfort zone.

But I want nothing more than to be a mom who is involved and part of my children’s lives, as much as any other mother who knows her way around the kitchen.  Sometimes I just take a more creative approach.  Why, there was that time when my son was in pre-school that I unearthed a notice from his book bag asking for “fresh figs” for the classroom’s celebration of the Jewish holiday of Tu B’Shvat.  It was 11 p.m., far too late for me to track down fresh figs, even if I could have found a Whole Foods within a 50-mile radius still open.  Instead, I sent in a half-package of Fig Newtons.  OK, so it was a loose interpretation of the request but you can’t fault me for trying!

So, with a bit of trepidation but my usual determination, I read the 2nd grade teacher’s instructions and ingredients – how long to beat the frosting (high speed until light and fluffy) and the ideal mode of transport (a disposable air-tight container) The recipe was complete… that is… if you are a mother who knows what cream of tartar is.  Or a mother who knows how to separate egg yolk from the white (generally I find myself hastily separating egg from shell bits).  Or a mother who actually owns beaters (we once drove a car we called the “Beater” but that’s about as close as I get…)

I think, some 11 years ago, I might have received an electric hand-mixer as an engagement present.  But it went by the wayside along with many other engagement and wedding presents I came to realize I had absolutely no use for.  My wedding china is still untouched in its original boxes in my parents’ basement 2 hours away.  The beaters long gone (not that I’d know how to use them anyway), I reviewed my options:

A.      Purchase a new mixer to make home-made frosting in proper adherence to instructions.  Consider making this poor long-term investment more worthwhile by becoming a frequent homemade-frosting maker.

B.      Attempt to beat mixture by hand with a whisk, knowing the product might not turn out right but at least I’d get in a good bicep workout.

C.      Admit to my ineptitude and borrow beaters from a neighbor, the same one who looked at me like I’m from another planet when I once admitted I don’t own a “zester” (whatever that’s for).

D.      Admit to my ineptitude and ask another mother in the class to make a double portion in place of my non-existent one.

E.       Buy store-bought frosting, scoop it out of the container, remix it – perhaps adding something to make it taste like something I’d thoroughly screw up at home (teaspoon of water?) – and repack it in a disposable air-tight container before sending along with my child to bring to school.  This presumes I have time to go to the supermarket again to buy the frosting.  This also leads to a fairly likely chance of getting busted and having to admit my ineptitude after the fact.

My answer was E.  And you’d be amazed how difficult the transfer from Betty Crocker tub to generic disposable Tupperware container was.  Frosting is sticky and most of it wound up on my hands (and thus, needed to be eaten).

But I was feeling pretty good about my ruse and pulling it off.  That is, until I checked my email when I got into work and saw this note from the teacher, sent late last night:

Don’t forget a frosting spreader of some kind with your name on it. Of course, your frosting, also!

Points off for the mom who forgot to pack the frosting spreader with the frosting.  That mom also has a question:  What is a “frosting spreader”?  Isn’t that just a knife?  Or a spatula?  Are we now buying “frosting spreaders”?  Who has so much frosting to spread that they need a separate utensil to do so?

I remain perplexed… under-frosted… and over-sugared, at least until the upcoming school bake sale…

Can you identify? What’s the most ridiculous school request you’ve received over the years? And what did you do / how did you cheat? Start sharing your stories…

Valerie Gordon, 39, originally from NYC, is now navigating the wilds of Avon, CT.  In addition to being a mother of two, she is a full-time Coordinating Producer at ESPN where she oversees feature production for a variety of sports.  This means she often has to choose what to watch on evening TV: the big game or Real Housewives of Beverly Hills?  Her hobbies include eating cheese and laughing, but not typically at the same time.


  1. Juli

    December 19, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    I question a teacher that requires royal frosting with 2nd graders. Raw eggs and little tongues=e coli in my mind. Meringue powder would have been safer (and easier).
    My boys are grown, but I was a homemade mom, Except for the time I sent my son to school with a box of saltines, because I needed to shop and he told me about the event the morning of. It was all I had. And sometimes you just got make do with what you have.

  2. M.E. Johnson

    December 20, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    Whatever the request, provide it any way you want. Make it, get a friend to make it, buy it. Nobody really cares.

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