Today, I made a crucial first step in my life as a mother of school-aged children.
I volunteered in the classroom.
Yes, yes, I know. I've been dropping a lot of bombs lately, first I tell you that I'll be giving actual people, actual advice, and then I admit that I'm going to be helping to shape the minds of younglings as well. I know its all a little hard to handle, but bear with me will you, please?
I was nervous about this choice. I've heard the horror stories of letting your child's teacher know you were even remotely available. I've heard the complainants about 'that bossy room-mom' who keeps asking you to 'do stuff' or 'buy something'. But I've also heard the occasional success story, the rare mom who actually enjoyed volunteering, or appreciation from a teacher who was in need of a little help now and then.
I labored back and forth over the decision during the summer, worrying that I'd go from sleepy semi-slacker to super-over achiever in just a matter of months [beacause I thrive on both overreaction and over analyzing]. I had frightening daydreams about going from being that mom who just drops her kids off and runs, to being the mom that tackles you for fundraising before you even know what hit you.
But by the time school started I'd finally come around to the conclusion that it couldn't hurt to help out. I mean what could be so bad about getting to know my children's teacher, or their principal, or heck, even the lunch lady? After all, the school nurse claims to be a relative of Elvis, how could I possibly deny myself a relationship with her?
I told the boy's teacher during orientation that I was willing to volunteer, and she just about jumped out of her skin with excitement. I was relieved and felt so good about my decision that I somehow managed to also rope myself into designing the class t-shirt. I figured that way I couldn't complain about my kids coming home in some dopey school shirt. At least now I can say 'Hey, I designed that dopey school shirt'.
After weeks and months of deliberation & speculation, today, my first day as volunteer, finally rolled around. I was a bit anxious. Would I be loved? Hated? Ignored? Would I spill glue everywhere? Would I ever figure out what the heck a 'center' was?
I expected I would just be helping the teacher with her papers and things, maybe making copies or cranking out some die-cuts. But much to my surprise, I actually got to be her assistant. Sure, I did have to use a glue-stick, and yes, I did hand-address every child's report card, but I also helped teach one little girl how to write her name and I quizzed the whole class on their basic colors. I even had a little roll call. Can't you just imagine me having to call each kid up by name one by one to hang out with me? No? I couldn't either. I almost made myself laugh. Especially when I had to summon my own children.
The best part was joining all the kids for lunch. If you're looking to feel popular, or even pseudo-famous. I advise that you join a bunch of kindergartners for lunch. You've never felt such admiration. They'll bombard you with questions:
"How can you be a mommy?" Um, ask your mom.
"Where do you work?" When I answered 'at home' they all doubled over in laughter.
"Is my mommy going to pick me up at daycare?" Uh, I hope so?
And give you compliments!
"I love your hair!"
Okay, maybe that was the only compliment I got, but they did cheer when I came into the classroom. So there.
All this and I was still home by ten after eleven. There's nothing like a full meal, complete with rolls and mashed potatoes at 10:30 am, lemme tell ya. I drove home feeling stuffed and pleased I'd given up a few hours to hang out with a bunch of feisty five year olds.
In fact, it was all so much fun, I'm doing it all over again next Tuesday. And the Tuesday after that, and probably every Tuesday until the end of time, or um, the end of the school year.
So call me what you will, suck-up, brown-noser, or maybe just Sally. I'm sticking with volunteer. Just don't make me wear any bright orange. Please.