The day my first child entered kindergarten, as less callous parents wept all around me at the bittersweet rite of passage, I was celebrating the freedom that came with six whole hours during which I didn't need to worry about childcare.
But the second day of school, my daughter's teacher sent an email subtly suggesting that I allot a big chunk of that child-free time to volunteering in the classroom. I pretended I didn't understand English.
Then we decided to send both of our kids to a new school, a fancy private school that costs a whole bunch of dollars — dollars we have to earn by, you know, working during working hours. The teachers kicked off the year by handing out a volunteering form.
My own kids turned against me, telling me that so-and-so's mom is always there on Tuesdays. Mom, why can't you be there on Tuesdays, too?
Lo, the guilt!
I volunteered to help with the science fair. It went as you might imagine.
Still, I didn't learn my lesson. I agreed to drive five second-graders to a museum 90 miles away and supervise these children during the six-hour field trip. All the way home, one of the kids decided it would be hilarious to unbuckle her seat belt.
At that moment, I came to a realization
Volunteering isn't a requirement. My mom never volunteered, and I didn't turn out to be an axe murderer. I vowed that the next time a teacher asked me to work in their classroom, I would politely but firmly decline.
This week, I got an email from my son's kindergarten teacher asking if I would be able to spare some time in the new year to help out during reading.
So, of course, I said yes.
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