Before I became a parent I had all kinds of dreams about things I wanted to do with my child. Some of them included volunteer roles I wanted to have at her school and in some of her activities. They were simple things like going on field trips, planning a class party, organizing the bake sale or helping organize Girl Scout Cookie sales.
The thing no one ever told me however, is that there would be parents who would squat on many of these roles for years at a time. This may not be the case where you live but in our community the parents are very active in their children’s activities. I respond to the email call for chaperones on a field trip with the lightning speed that one would call in to a radio station to be the first caller to win $5,000 but alas, Tommy’s mom or Jenny’s dad, who has been chaperoning field trips, planning class parties or organizing the Girl Scout cookies for the past 10 years had, once locked in the position. Teachers have their hands full and don’t want to have to tell a parent to maybe sit out a year or event. In fact, our daughter is just about to finish 8th grade and it wasn’t until yesterday that I was able to chaperone a field trip. She quit Girl Scouts after six years and I never was able to crack the Girl Scout Cookie ring. And room parent? No way. I’d have better odds of becoming the next pope. Parent-teacher organization? That will never happen. Someone self-appoints herself or himself to a role in first grade it’s pretty much a term that extends for the duration that extends until graduation.The only role that’s ever open is related to fundraising or maybe the food drive, activities that are the anchovies of the parent volunteer-activity pizza. Granted there are some activities in which I have no interest in being involved because there’s just waaaay too much drama or dysfunction.
I think these parents are well-intentioned and trying to be helpful. I’m told that some of them spend a large part of the day volunteering in a variety of capacities at the school which is how they always end up in these roles, making it more challenging for those of us who have jobs to have a chance to participate in school activities. So as the school year ends, I’d like to humbly ask all of those parents who have been in the same volunteer roles year after year at a school, coordinating the fun activities, throwing the class parties, planning the field trips and orchestrating the costumes for the play to consider offering that role to someone else. How about the classic inventory AYSO model of play? When you’ve had your turn at one role, you need to go to the back of the line again until everyone else who wants a turn has had one. Allowing other parents to participate in school functions and community positions is good for their families and the school because it increases family engagement. And for those of us with only one child, we don’t get many shots at this stuff. We’d like to make some school-related memories with our kid too.