It isn’t easy and it isn’t always perfect and sometimes it is NOT EVEN fun…

For today’s fun, let’s talk about volunteering.

Partly because I, like a lot of other well-meaning, yet slightly foolish humans, do quite a bit of it. And partly because with the upcoming school year getting ever so near, the inevitable avalanche of requests, needs, demands, and online sign-ups has me filled with a strong sense of impending doom.

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But mostly let’s talk about it because I, like a lot of other well-meaning, yet slightly foolish humans, am just really freaking annoyed.

I volunteer. Year-round. Usually for things that are school or kid related. Occasionally for things I dislike, because it helps out a friend or because there is a need. Mostly for things that I do not mind, or actually love, doing.

Things that I actually love doing until some well (or not-so-well) meaning, yet slightly rude/inconsiderate/unthinking/kinda selfish human ruins it for me.

You know the ones I’m talking about. The ones with the opinions about how it could be better. The ones with the demands. The ones with the repetitive questions. The ones that think that you are an employee. And my personal favorite, the ones that are just so busy with their busy children and busy lives and general busy-ness that well, they are just too busy and they need you to communicate/arrange/set-up all the things RIGHT NOW because their very valuable time is being infringed upon.

In other words, the ones not doing the volunteering. If you should happen to be one of the ones I’m talking about, you may not want to read this next part.

Or maybe you should. There’s hope for everyone.

Often, like the rest of you well-meaning yet slightly foolish humans, the things that I volunteer for require quite a bit of planning, communication, effort and energy. And time. Lots and lots and lots of time. Time, that I believe, is MY time. Time, that I believe, is time that belongs to all the other millions of volunteers doing the things that need to get done.

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Volunteering means giving freely of your time and energy to accomplish whatever thing needs to be accomplished, for whatever good cause or great event or general need that there is.

Volunteering isn’t always easy and it isn’t always perfect. Sometimes, for us well-meaning yet slightly foolish humans, it takes a while to get things set up. Sometimes we end up playing phone tag with the field trip coordinator at that REALLY FUN PLACE. Sometimes we have to make lists and inventories and…I don’t know, plan stuff. Sometimes people don’t return emails, or things get lost, or that REALLY FUN PLACE isn’t available or whatever. Sometimes life (with the puking kid or traveling husband,) or our actual jobs (the ones we get PAID for) get in the way. Sometimes, we are just sitting at home eating bonbons and shirking our volunteer duties.

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Except we’re not. Like, ever.

That being said, the only person being inconvenienced by this is the PERSON WHO IS VOLUNTEERING TO TAKE THE TIME AND ENERGY TO DO THE THING!

Again, volunteering isn’t always easy and it isn’t always perfect. Yes, everything could be more organized/more timely/more professional/more convenient/more perfect and JUST PLAIN BETTER.

And you could be one of those ones who points out that everything could be more organized/more timely/more professional/more convenient/more perfect and JUST PLAIN BETTER to all of us well-meaning, yet slightly foolish humans.

Yes. You could be a total a-hole.

Or you could be nice. Be patient. Be a little understanding. You could even say thank you. Or you could offer to help. Or do it your damn self. Or I don’t know, maybe NOT SPEAK. Any of these would be really good choices.

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But seriously, thank the well-meaning yet slightly foolish humans volunteering to do the thing. It isn’t easy and it isn’t always perfect and sometimes it is NOT EVEN fun, but they do it.

And you should be grateful.

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End of Year…End of Days.

For today’s fun…

Let’s talk about parties. And awards programs. And music concerts. And field day. And all the other just before summer, last month of school, really totally necessary celebratory crap that us parents have to squeeze in during the four weeks prior to our children being set free.

Because, you know, ta6cf5582f82380d1bdf0bb13f1489650he end of the year isn’t enough of a crunch already with the teachers trying to cram in six chapters of social studies, plus projects and tests and exams and homework and well, stuff.

At our school, when we get into that last month, I pretty much know it is time to clear my calendar and face the horrible, hard truth that whatever kid-free time I have left is no longer mine to call my my own. Because every single school/activity/group will have things. Things that require my time, my energy, my willingness to spend money, and above all, my presence, because apparently if you miss even the slightest, smallest event…your children will grow up to be social deviants, forever scarred by your absence during class party #438 and other parents will notice and point out that, hey, we didn’t see you at the thing…

Yes. That happened. Not the social deviant part. Yet. But there was some noticing and pointing out.

End of Year…End of Days.

I suck at being End of Days Mom. Really, I do. I’m bad enough during the regular school year with my very moderate participation, but once the weather warms up…online sign-ups send me into a deep state of avoidance and procrastination. Reminder notes from school multiply on the counter. Field trip chaperoning, teacher appreciation contributing, party helping, concert clapping…I’ll do it all…eventually. But I won’t like any of it.

Also, I fucking hate field day.

11426192_10205612706670409_82641071910971261_nReally. I strongly dislike it. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to offend anyone, because the humans who plan our field day should be sainted with whatever sainthood comes from organizing hundreds of kids and color coordinated parent volunteers and activities into a joyous afternoon awesomeness. I mean this sincerely. Our field day rocks, and I’m lucky to have my kids at such a great school with such dedicated parents.

But I still hate it. Mostly because I don’t understand why everything we do for our kids has to be such a big, giant blowout of perfectly planned fun. Remember when the gym teacher was in charge of field day? And it was an actual field day…with relay races and kickball and the mile run and if you were lucky you got one of those red Popsicles at the end? It was probably hot and everyone was thirsty and sometimes it was great and sometimes it sucked? Field day isn’t like that anymore.  We still have kickball. The kids just play in between visiting the bounce houses and the ice cream truck and the water station and the other things that are not sporting events.

When did everything have to become a party? More important, why does everything have to have a party? Does the end of every single thing our children have ever done have to end in a party? And not just a “we’ll eat cupcakes and do a craft party,” but a party party. Like with themes. And color coordinated plates. (I am not kidding. I once offended a class party mom by not bringing matching tablecloths to the Christmas shindig.) It is crazy. My daughter’s kindergarten year, the End of Days party was a picnic. For the End of Days class gift, the teacher requestedimage1 buckets. Then she requested a list of tiny toy trinkets to fill the buckets with. Chalk. Bubbles. Bouncy balls. Squirt guns. And more! Every kid went home with a keepsake bucket of toys from the parents…er…teacher.

We won’t even discuss the year I made 65 water balloons…

Did my kids have fun with all of this? Absolutely. I’m sure they had a great time and will remember all of it. Especially that time the tablecloths didn’t match.

My youngest kid’s teacher had a really novel idea of how to celebrate the End of Days this year. The kids are going to take their lunches outside. And eat on the grass. And then they are going to play. On the playground. 

No parent volunteers. No tropical luau plates. No horrible crafting website individual fruit sculptures. Her only request was that if someone had time (if someone had time!) they bring in some cut up watermelon for a treat.

Pure fucking genius. Because really, what could be better than extra time in the fresh air, playing with your friends, on a playground, on the last full day of school?

End of Days. Complete with parties, and more parties, and whatever random celebrations for whatever sport/group/activity your child belongs to within or outside of school. Plus awards programs. And spring music programs. And open houses and ice cream socials and Grandparents/Special Person day and and that one last fundraiser. And fucking field day. And any other festive occasion that can be crammed into the space of a few short weeks, because hey, we couldn’t do any of this during the other eight months of school.

I suck at being End of Days Mom. Because all of this…it is just too much. I want my kid to remember all these special childhood events. But she probably won’t. Because the 2nd grade concert will probably take place on the same day as a field trip the night before a class party and a school assembly and all those memories will get blurred into a fuzzy blob of too many things. With ice cream, of course.

Also, I’m tired. Even if this year I don’t have to fill up 65 water balloons. But I’m pretty sure there are a couple of sign-ups I missed. And there’s still field day. Fucking field day.