07 August 2012

I'm not so generous after all...

I'm not just a regular ole parent volunteer--I virtually live in the classroom.  It started with the co-op preschool and continued onto elementary school and I don't see that ending any time soon.

During my time in the classroom, I got to see all sorts of parent volunteers.  There are ones who are there for brownie points from the teacher or the principal (these people are rare, but they simultaneously perplex and annoy me so I'm not going to address them here).  There are also ones who are there because they want to hang out with their kid.  Okay, I get that.  *I* want to hang out with my kid too.  And finally, there are ones who actually want to help.  They don't care whether they're interacting with the students or cutting, stapling, and filing; and they certainly don't care whether they're with their own child or someone else's child.  Those belonging to this latter group know that anything they contribute actually helps their own child in the long run because it frees the teacher up...well, to teach.  Besides, spending time to catch up a student who has fallen a little bit behind means that student will be able to make substantive contributions to group discussions, thereby indirectly improving the educational experience of the entire class.

I was one of those helpful parents.  And I spent the last month of school completely away from A1.  We were finishing up lots and lots of projects and I would walk into the classroom, target the child who was most behind, and sit exclusively with that child.  I would feverishly cut and paste during recess and lunch.  And I was perfectly happy to perform these tasks.  More importantly, A1 was perfectly happy to have me performing these tasks.  Having been long since trained in the co-op system, he knew that my presence in the classroom would have to suffice since a whole day may slip by without our having really interacted.  Even A2 was very happy with this arrangement--he was like a class mascot--playing with the first graders, working on the same materials, running off to P.E., etc.

But you know what?  I don't think I can do that next year.  Honestly, I think I'd rather just toddle off to A2's Kindergarten than sit somewhere far away from A1 in second grade, and vice versa.  I also think I'd rather go to the gym (that mythical place of health and exercise to which I have no actual membership) or clean my house (that mythical task wherein items are placed in their designated locations and filth is scrubbed away instead of merely tolerated) than perform some clerical task in the back of the classroom.  I don't make these predictions out of anger or frustration but I do foresee negative outcomes if I spend another year ignoring myself and my responsibilities out of some self-imposed duty to the boys' classrooms.  The relief and rejuvenation that I've garnered during the boys' time away at their various camps these past 3 weeks taught me that I need to guard my free time as fiercely as I guard the boys' playtime.  Seriously, the stress palpably leaves my body as I clean the house.  Why deny myself that simple luxury?


COMPLETELY unrelated photos of the boys after dinner today.  There was no sun left and I didn't want to trouble with swimsuits and sunscreen so I let them swim in their underwear--isn't that what having your own backyard pool is all about?

They really wanted me to snap these shots.  I was just terrified of dropping my camera into the pool since I was already chest-deep in the water.


Michelle said...

At this point, I think you're up for Mommy-sainthood for all the work you've done for the boys' schools -- and then some! You are so totally entitled to cleaning/gym/nothing time.

I can't even fathom volunteering in anywhere near your capacity -- TLE likes me in her classroom TOO much for me to dare volunteer. (That and I'm a skittish sort that would rather ninja my way through volunteer tech work in the office than work in a classroom.)

Lam said...

Ah, yes, but when you work the classroom, you get to ninja in other ways--you can stealthily assess the children and their teacher as well. It's a great see how your child is doing (like an ongoing parent conference) and check out her peers too.

Also, I'm well aware that this will not be encouraged or even allowed for much longer. There aren't exactly Room Parents in junior high. Even by 3rd or 4th grade, I know the teachers on the boys' grade school campus maintain fairly closed door policies (though I'm a slippery little weasel who will try to sneak in through the cracks anyhow).

But no more full days for me. Just a few hours per week at most! I suppose the key to all of life is moderation, right?