I finally found a way to help out at the younger boys' school. I have been trying since the beginning of the year. Every time there was a class party I would volunteer and was shot down because "we already have it covered". I'm use to being in both of their classes helping with parties or anything else the teacher's needed. I often brought things home to work on like tracing or cutting out items for crafts for the class, counting box tops. I even helped out in classes I didn't have any kids in. I was everywhere, helping everyone and loving every minute of it (mostly).
Much like the boys being new and having to make new connections with people and getting involved in activities, I needed to do the same. I hadn't been included, but not from lack of effort on my end. Finally yesterday I spoke with the secretary (they always know what's going on in the school) and she managed to me set up with the PTG (Parent Teacher Group) who could use a hand with another book fair, that just so happened to be going on this week. I spent 7 hours in the school library getting to know some of the other parent helpers and how things run at the school. (Some of the things really confused me, but it seems to work for them). I also was able to interact with many students including putting some more faces to names of the kids the boys talk about. I was there all week, everyday, the whole day helping out for the whole week. I've gotta tell you it feels great getting back in the habit of helping out and meeting new people.
It does feel kind of weird to be the one learning the ropes instead of teaching the ropes. I have been welcomed with open arms (as far as I can tell), hopefully I can get into the "inner circle" of the parent volunteers, where I'm use to being.
Having been the "new parent" and trying to show that I was willing to be involved in the events that happen at my kids school and being greeted with fake smiles of "we'll call you when we have something for you", I have been reflecting on how a treated the "new parents" when I was over involved at our old school. I was just like the moms at our school, I had a group of other parents that I preferred to work beside and we unintentionally rejected the new recruits. Understandably after you have worked every class party with the same handful of parents, you ban together and at the being of the year stake your claim as a group for all class parties. After all you know each other and know how to work together, why have to "teach" someone new the way we do things when we can just handle it ourselves.
I am guilty of being the parent that signed up for every party, fieldtrip, "teacher's helper", after school opportunity there was. I was running myself ragged trying to be part of everything, but early in the year "we" (the group of use that helped with everything together) had chased away new parents who could have lightened our loads. Between working at the school and volunteering for everything (also being volunteered for everything; the teachers know those of us who never say no) I was so stressed and trying to juggle too many things while having my hands full with four boys at home. Eventually I had to step down and pass the reins of the "Friday Popcorn Popper". That sure was hard, there was one parent who was not going to let us push her out of helping. I had been "stuck" working beside her a couple times and she drove me bonkers!!! We'd show her what to do and this lady just could not do it the way we always had done things. Really our way had worked for years. I was not happy when I stepped down from doing popcorn that this lady had stepped up. To tell you the truth for how angry I was about having someone new volunteering it took a weight off my shoulders and I was able to give more attention to the numerous other things I have signed up for. I'm sure she ran the popcorn her own way, honestly I couldn't tell you how she ran it I was so busy with other things I was just grateful that someone (anyone really) was taking care of Popcorn Fridays.
The point is while I was great at all I did (if I do say so myself) and different people stepped up and did things a different way or I missed out the class Halloween party so another parent could be there. That things did get done and the kids were able to enjoy whatever function the school was putting on.
It's hard to be the new parent and getting use to the school, the rules, and trying to get involved with the different events the school offers. Being met with resistance, many parents buckle and end up missing out on these special events. We volunteer because we care and want to have the memories and for our children to have the memories of our being involved. Yes we may have a certain way we do things and people we prefer to work beside, but with new parents may come new ideas (and can left some of the burden you placed upon yourself). New to the school parents also want to have to special memories and also care. Parent volunteers are awesome at what we do, but we have to remember to give other the opportunity to be awesome too.