Now while I sound all calm, cool, and collected, clearly in the heat of the heartstopping calls I never am. I feel badly for my son. I truly do. We are also left scrambling with what to do for work. Every new place used to send shivers down my spine as I dreaded the locale's name on caller ID. I hated to schedule anything for work the first 10 days the boys were in any new setting, even in my own office. More than once, I had to quickstep from a client for one of "the calls." Ugh, "the calls."
But then, my Eureka moment! If I became indispensable, they couldn't kick out my kids. Well, they could, but they'd have to think twice. I had been in enough business groups and volunteer orgs to know you never wanted to piss off anyone volunteering for anything. Do so, and risk having to do it yourself. They'd lose fees for one boy with adHd (they're all about the H)... but they'd have to say goodbye to the recess monitor and the go-to-gal for color copies. It would be, "Sayonara!" to the willing field trip monitor. Need 600 phone #'s entered into an XL file? Sure! New website? Right on it! But, boot the kids, and you boot your volunteer. It was evil genius.
Only the thing is, now, this key strategy is beginning to backfire. My sons are beginning to control themselves slightly, so there are fewer phone calls. BUT-- The things I'm now getting hit up to do are taking up as much time as my business, leaving critically low time for exercise, reading, organic gardening, or TMZ. I can't set foot near the place without a request. If it's not a fellow parent/ committee head, it's the principal. If it's not the principal, it's a teacher my kids have never even had who has bought into the urban legend I can cure all paper reproduction needs, bake 48 cupcakes, and run networking cable through a two story building simultaneously. It's gotten to the point that as soon as I hear "Oh, Mrs. L....." I'm actually praying son 1 or son 2 has thrown a book. I mean, not AT someone. God no- then I'd have to sign on to paint the building every August.
The joy I feel when my husband says he's picking up the kids at school is frighteningly immense. One less time to get caught in the crosshairs. At pick up time, I enter the building and move toward the playground, sweat starting, eyes darting side to side, heart racing like I'm ready to rob the Louvre. I see my 10 yr old. I wave him over; I dare not raise my voice and be heard. I know he will scream, "Mommy!" leaving me only precious seconds before detection. Where's the older one? I can't spot him. Don't you know I have no time or they'll see me? I'll get asked for SOME committee slot? FOR THE LOVE OF GOD where are you, 12 yr old?
They're very good, these volunteer-wrangling ninjas. They're like waiters who approach after food is in your mouth. They know when you can't object. They pounce when I'm at my weakest. If even the slightest signal is shown that I'm in a rush to go, requests are fired at me. In my stressed state I am not thinking and therefore the words, "Sure, no problem," tumble out of my mouth. When it is clear I am trying to keep it in check because my 12yr old has forgotten his Science book in a now-locked classroom this final night before his final (and every night preceding), I get peppered with enough would you, can you, and could you to keep me busy through the End of Days.
And so, around the corner strolls my older son, looking relaxed and carefree. Bully for him. In those fleeting moments came request 122, this time to join committee 10. And since the request came with the parallel statement that highly inappropriate words were used today by the prodigal 12 yr old, they know fear over "the calls" is renewed, and therefore my consent is sealed.