If I could give you one piece of advice, it’d be to never volunteer for anything. Period. Never do it. There are strategic ways of going about this that include, but are not limited to, avoiding eye contact (sunglasses help, but can be awkward on rainy days), having a full time job, no babysitter, etc. That being said, when the moment arises and you are called to action, be it a “if we can’t find a coach, your kid can’t play” or a “we really need volunteers or the event can’t happen” you better steel your bleeding heart, because the minute you decide to “do it just this once,” is the moment you’ve crossed the line. Invisible to the naked eye, you are now imprinted with the word “SUCKER” on your forehead. You won’t notice it at first as you go about your daily life, but eventually you realize it can only be seen by other Suckers looking for volunteers. They’re like Zombies and you’re infected. Now you’re in the loop.
When you’re in the loop you take on some small responsibility and feel really good about how you’re a great parent, giving back and what not. After the first practice/task you begin to realize that you are actually in charge of something. Like if it sucks, it’s your fault. If these children are not enriched or cultivated you are cheating them out of an epic experience. If you would have just kept your mouth shut, they’d probably have some sick ass coach/chairperson that would change their lives. Mike Calmes would be teaching them the technique that will get them a college scholarship. But now, they’re stuck with you, you sorry excuse for a leader. So you try to make it cool…Making it cool takes a shit ton of time, energy, and sometimes money. “Let’s use water balloons instead of baseballs.” And eventually, when it’s cool for the kids, you have a moment when your Grinch heart grows three times its normal size and you’re like “Wow, I’m really making a difference and some money on the side to boot… wait…How much do I make? Are you kidding me? This is pro bono?! “
Eventually you experience first-hand how much time, effort, and energy goes into making these things happen. Then your “Sucker” imprint evolves into a third eye. With your new knowledge you see the mom of four working full-time and chairing a major fundraiser. You see the the new mother committing to work the snack bar weeknights for months, her baby in a bouncer on the counter next to the nacho cheese. Now you realize and appreciate the sacrifice these people make to create a positive experience for others. Did I mention it’s Pro Bono?! I feel like I need to renegotiagte my contract, but that’s not the point.
Once you get to know these people you realize they are the real cream of the crop. Due to a series of weak cracks in my steel-hardened heart, I inexplicably became not only a PTA board member, but a team mom, and assistant coach. I know, I know, “SUCKER” right?! The thing is…Through this shit show I call my life, I’ve met some great people I’m honored to call friends. They’re selfless, creative, go-getters. ”Man, this week is going to be crazy; I have a board meeting Tuesday Night.” Wait, it’s at Denise’s house with wine and food… We’ll bullshit for an hour and laugh so hard we pee, then we’ll talk about New Haven’s Deflategate. (We just bought brand-new rubber balls for recess and they go flat every day. Then we’ll make jokes about balls, you know, good times.) The next day Todd will have baseball practice. These people will literally play catch with your child…FOR FREE!
So basically, what I’m trying to say is, don’t volunteer and be a sucker. If you do, you might notice how much “pro bono” work it takes for your kid to play baseball or have a pumpkin patch at school and you might start to feel guilty when you’re just sitting there crushing candy on the reg (You don’t get to level 2,592 by volunteering your time willy-nilly). You might notice a crack in your steel-hardened heart, and you might make the best friends of your life. Or not, I don’t know…It’s kinda hard to tell.