No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

school-houseI have a confession to make, and I hope you won’t think any less of me:

I really do not enjoy volunteering in my kids’ schools!

You’re thinking, “What’s wrong with her?!?! What an ungrateful, unloving, uninterested mother!”, right? Well, if you’re not thinking it, I’m thinking it enough for both of us …

For the last twelve years, I have volunteered in a variety of capacities: stuff Wednesday folders, help kids select books at the school library, run an activity at the class party, buy the teacher gift, make copies of newsletters, serve as the Class Parent, go on field trips, organize an activity for Field Day, chaperon play rehearsals, help out at school registration, bake, buy and bring in treats galore.

Writing it all out makes it seem like I’m gunning for Volunteer of the Year. But, the reality is that I strictly limit what I say yes to and volunteer far, far less than many parents. 

I still don’t like the experience that much.

And, right now, I’m in the midst of Volunteer Hell.

I signed up to be a parent liaison for a Kids Night Out scheduled for this Friday. I purposefully chose to help out with this particular activity as (1) it’s been held before – no need to start from scratch; (2) the Night is suppossed to be organized and run by students - parents are in the background and help only as needed/requested; and (3) it’s a discrete task that has a definite end point (by Friday night at 10:00 pm)

Did you know that, as of the moment I’m writing this, there are exactly 61 hours and 30 minutes until Friday night at 10:00 pm?

I won’t bore you with the details of how this has turned out to be a such a pain in the @)# that I’m keeping a running countdown in my head. Suffice to say there are about a dozen cooks in the kitchen (not an exaggeration), literally hundreds of emails that have flown back-and-forth from said cooks, student “leaders” who have disappeared into a black hole, and, incredibly, few details worked out notwithstanding six weeks of communication about the event. And only 2.5 days remain. 

As a Wise Friend suggested, I’m planning an “Elaine Day Out” to help erase this experience from my memory. And posting the cynical “No Good Deed Goes Unpunished” mantra to my office wall in case I get tempted again to do anything more than bake cupcakes.

61 and 20 minutes to go …


  • NotReallyAWiseWoman Says:
    12-8-2010 12:37:42

    Sounds familiar. I was given the option of letting someone else handle the next cubscout meeting or rescheduling at my home for a Friday night. I wanted to let the other parent handle it, but I felt almost guilty thinking about it (even though I’ve handled all the other meetings). I knew if I said “yes, I’ll do it”, i’d regret it instantly and also be counting the days until that Friday came and went (also knowing that the anticipation was the real problem..not the actual doing).
    So (1) I consulted my spouse and got the “okay” to let the other parent handle it. I still feel a little guilty, but a little guilty pleasure is okay now and then
    (2) Had I said ‘yes”, I’d be working to tell myself that when it came time for the actual volunteering, it wouldn’t have been as bad as the anticipation..
    (3) Now that you’re in it Elaine…try to have fun with it

  • Cindy L Says:
    12-12-2010 15:16:35

    I was involved in events-from-hell like that too, when my son was in high school. But for every one of those, there were a few fun ones, too. And during senior year, I started realizing that my days as a “school mom” would be over very soon … and they were. And now I miss them. This too shall pass :-)

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