Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Art of Not Volunteering

I saw her standing there…a smile plastered on her face, her lips barely opening to contain her seething rage—she was trying to communicate to a volunteer mom who does not work outside the home. “Just an e-mail message sent to ALL the parents would be huge help especially to us with very tight schedules.” she was kindly trying explain to the woman, but only getting a blank stare in return.

I was that woman last year. But this year—it was Ms. Churchlady, my favorite Super Mom. History repeating itself.

I still find it hard to stop myself. I see waste, the lack of organization, the petty squabbling and my desire to step in with an excel spreadsheet and a few merged e-mail messages is overwhelming. I can taste the success of a concisely worded, witty e-mail to mothers who want to help, but no one has given them instruction.

When you reach this point—at this exact moment—you must step away. Take a deep breath and cleanse your body of the urge to volunteer out of sheer frustration.

Do not take on one more job because you can do it better. Of course you can do it better—that is why you are making the big bucks. But keep in mind—you can’t do everything and it is not even wise—this event will come and go and no one will remember or care about the lame coordination leading up to it.

Standing in the auditorium lobby of the school during the spring play intermission I spied Ms. Churchlady. Still shell-shocked she was mumbling her mantra—“a form for everyone’s e-mail address, one big list of addresses, a few e-mail notes—that is all it would take. I can do it easily… “ I walked her back to our seats. One more performance—then we are free and clear until next year. I will talk to her later—try to get her to see the light in the Art of NOT Volunteering.

Big Cleansing Breath Everyone

Saturday, April 24, 2010


I woke up suddenly and early, very early for a Saturday and the thought that shook my mind awake was: The Beast will be 14 next year!

I was 14 when I had my first boyfriend. And even though I was a late bloomer—I am praying that The Beast will be an even later bloomer.

Actually I still am a late bloomer…slow to get a boyfriend, reluctant to finish college, vague in my career, unhurried to get married, late having a child, but suddenly everything is going fast. I hear that as we get older we do the same things over and over again so one day blends into the next and one year melds with the next and thus time seems to go fast when in fact—we are just doing the same things over and over again so our life stretches into one long continuously playing loop—until you are jolted awake by a revelation.

I clearly remember the excitement of 14—which, mind you, had nothing to do with the incredibly self-centered boyfriend I had. It was the year that my friends and I went off on a two week bike trip around Cape Cod, on our own, with no adult supervision. We got lost, we fought, we turned a dark shade of tan, lived in youth hostels, and we had best time ever. Ms. Filmmaker still goes back on occasion to that youth hostel on the dunes of Truro because it was such a beautiful place.

Things are different now—kids seem to grow up more quickly in many ways, but in other ways they live in a bubble of parent/school protection. The thought of sending The Beast off to Cape Cod with just a bicycle, some cash and a few traveler checks would not cross my mind—yet we were able to convince three sets of parents that everything would be just fine. And it was.

I am hoping that The Beast is a late bloomer too. She is too beautiful, too soulful, too thoughtful to rush into the complexities of boyfriends. If she rushes anywhere, I hope it is towards her own adventures and passions with her friends.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Getting to NO

We have just hit the teen years and like every other developmental stage in The Beast’s life—we are woefully unprepared.
The husband and I are almost always on the same page as far as parenting which consists of: Let the little nipper run wild.

But there are times when even we have to say no, but we both have different techniques…well…let me put it this way—I have a technique and the husband just says NO.

I want the child to get to NO on her own. I want her to think through the process as to why something is not a good idea and realize on her own (with constant suggestions from me) why walking bare foot into town is not a good idea…why being dropped off in the city for the day is not a good idea without a friend…why wearing certain outfits to school could be problematic… I want her to develop her own judgment. Or, at the very least, have my voice echo in her head when I am not around.

Although getting to NO is difficult in these new teen years—I find it somewhat similar to the toddler years. The first NO to something is always the hardest. In the toddler years—crying, begging, heart wrenching pleading. Now with the teen there are accusations about being out of touch with today’s culture and basic lameness on the part of the parents etc. But the next NO is often much more of a negotiation and more convivial—the Beast will say, before I even open my mouth, “Please, spare me the lecture—I am only wearing these shorts outside in the backyard.”

Slowly we get to NO or some close approximation.