Seeing as I live in the great state of Tennessee, home of the greatest Volunteer in human history, one David ‘Davey’ Crockett, this post was tough to write. In fact I live about 40 minutes southwest of Rogersville in Hawkins County, where Davey’s father John relocated the family before Davey was born. If you are unfamiliar, here is a little sample of the Ballad of Davey Crockett:
Born on a mountain top in Tennessee, greenest state in the land of the free
Raised in the woods so’s he knew ev’ry tree, kilt him a b’ar when he was only three
Davy, Davy Crockett, king of the wild frontier!
If you’re not singing that tune in your head right now, you might be a communist.
Anyway, I’m not sure the King of The Wild Frontier would be very pleased with the thrust of this post. As it turns out elementary school has a side effect and it’s called volunteering. And it is, by every known definition, a double edged sword.
We sent the boy to preschool so he could develop socially. I get it. I could teach him anything, except how to be a kid. Although find some people from my past and they might tell you that’s all I could teach him. Regardless, the boy needed to be around other kids, so we shipped him off, at the age of two. I missed him.
I would get to the school about ten minutes before pick up so I could see how he interacted with other kids. It was fascinating. So when he went off to kindergarten and the chance to volunteer a little bit came up I thought, yeah that might be fun. And it was fun.
I was the hit of the Christmas party. My Bingo for Candy Canes game was an instant must play event. Only one kid out of 20 cried when he lost his stack of canes. That’s called success my friends. And he learned a valuable lesson that will serve him well 15 years from now the first time he’s using his kid’s college fund to beat the house in Vegas. I’m an educator. It’s what I do.
Now before Mrs Frank’s Place comes off the top rope with an elbow, I did not volunteer as much as she would have liked. I skipped the field trips. I picked those days to go on my own field trip, to the golf course. But I did one day a month, and I read some, I helped at the end of year party. Put it this way, I was in there a lot more than I ever expected to be. But I admit I was enjoying some 4+ hours of quiet in the house as the girl was gone most of the day as well, having started her first year of preschool.
Then summer happened and the quiet died. It was assassinated actually. It was assassinated, ground up, and fed to the fishes in the briny deep, if we’re being honest. Then the longing set in. The longing for those bygone days of quiet, warm lunch, and the golf channel. It was a glorious time. It seemed like it would never return.
But then it did. The dog days of summer waned, school lists and schedules were published. The light at the end of the tunnel wasn’t an oncoming train after all. It was the light of fall and the first day of school and back to school night with the boy’s 1st grade teacher. 1st Grade!
I strolled into school armed with the knowledge that volunteering was a thing of the past. I have an inside source, an informant if you will, who I will not name. But she told me after kindergarten there is almost no volunteer time in the class room as there’s really no time for that in 1st grade.
And she was right. There was a nominal list for volunteering, but that amounted to reading to one kid at a time in the hallway for about 30 minutes. There were like a thousand parents in that room. I pulled the old ‘look the other way’ when the volunteer list came and it passed me by; much like the collection plate in church. Someone else will pony up.
So cool, we got the kid off to a good start, he’s riding the bus both ways, buying his lunch, and no need for a volunteer. Awesome.
Then a letter came home. The school library is in need of help. The pitch was, “Set your own schedule. Make it coincide with your child’s schedule so you can see them at school!” Not sure who wrote that, actually I am but I won’t name names. No matter, let’s just say this person is not destined for a career in public relations.
See your kid at school? Should I feel guilty that my first thought was, I see him enough at home, why on earth would I want to see him at school too? I probably should, but I don’t.
I think my laziness has been documented here several times. And I’m just lazy enough to blame those damn kids for beating it out of me over the summer. Yeah I know, I’m a horrible dad. But I just don’t have that volunteer spirit.
I’m the shame of Knox County. Maybe I should move back to Jersey.
Davey, I’m sorry.