Interview with Laurie Gelman, Author of 'Class Mom'

Interview with Laurie Gelman, Author of 'Class Mom'

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Laurie Gelman talks about her novel 'Class Mom' and how she got fired from her class mom position after five years.

Is Jennifer Dixon (the main character) based on anyone in particular? She’s someone I just pieced together. I wish she was me, she’s so cool. The only thing that comes from reality are the emails [in the book] because I sent emails either exactly like that or very similar to my class when I was class mom.

The emails in the book are hilarious. What prompted you to get so creative with them during your time as class mom? When I wasn’t class mom I would get these really boring grocery list emails that were just cut and paste from the parent-teacher association, and I thought, “I want to do something interesting, I want people to read these, I want people to actually have fun with it,” so I decided that I would write things that would shock or awe people or make them sit up and go, “Oh my gosh, did she just write that?” It actually worked, because I had more people participating and reading every word of my emails then any other class mom, because they were excited to see what I was going to say next. 

But I read that this backfired on you and you got fired from the class mom position, is that true? Well to be fair, it was in my fifth year, I’d been doing it for four years and everybody loved it and it’s all good until somebody doesn’t like you. In my fifth year I upset someone or someone didn’t understand my humor, so they complained to the PTA and asked me to step down as class mom, which was very hurtful.

Do you have any advice for moms who may be contemplating taking on the class mom role? I think you have to make it your own and make it fun. Make it something the parents can’t resist being a part of. I used to give awards for the quickest response time to one of my emails or the person who embodied the spirit of a class mom the most. I just made it fun for everybody. I wrote one email for the Christmas party that had to be sung to the tune of Santa Claus is Coming to Town. Everybody loved that because you end up humming it to yourself. I just tried to do things that piqued everybody’s interest and make it more fun for them. I think that’s the best way to be a great class mom.

What’s your favorite thing about raising kids in NYC? I love the fact that we get to go to the museums, the fact that it’s a weekly thing, not a once-in-a lifetime adventure. There’s so much opportunity to experience culture and excitement and their backyard is something everyone in the world wants to see at least once. It’s really exciting to raise kids in New York. Something we started to do more of is Broadway—we are in the best place in the world to see a show and my girls love theater.

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