Friday, February 20, 2009

Why volunteer?

This week, I have been asking myself why volunteer? In between work and my family, I spent hours researching so that I could present a ten minute discussion to an organization then spent another couple of hours creating a consensuses statement from said presentation with no guidance from leadership. Then spent days receiving emails or phone calls on what I did wrong and then on how wrong I was for pointing out any fallacy of their arguments. Most of these discussions would not have been necessary if my requests for assistance had been answered. In fact, one committee leader said that was not the way he thought I would do it. I explained that as wonderful as I am, I cannot read minds (shhh, don't tell my daughters). I am sure that if this had been the only bump in my volunteer commitments this week, I would have shrugged it off but it was not. Every one of my volunteer commitments was challenged, pushed, twisted, or slapped with some kind of criticism, threat, or displeasure.

I have been volunteering since I was a child. My parents believed it was our civic responsibility. I see a need and I take action. I have been the grunt, the sergeant, and the general. However, most of my time donated now is spent in leadership roles and I really miss those days in which I showed up and just served coffee or stuffed envelopes or walked a dog or delivered lunch or etc. It is my job to thank and inspire volunteers for showing up. However, I don't receive a simple thank yous for a task or job well done. Trust me, it is brought to my attention when I stumble or don't read minds but a thank you has not come my way in months now.

I probably wouldn't have noticed the lack of thank yous if not for a coffee date with a friend. So I want to say thank you to my friend "J" for pointing out the fact that I am now doing thankless work, THANKS. Over a cup of coffee, I shared my discontent and the possibility of hanging up my clipboard. J listened with kindness and said, "What it sounds like to me is you feel and little abused and not appreciated." I am afraid she is right. J suggested I tell everyone to get stuffed and move on. She is such a good friend.

The coffee chat led to some soul searching. Why do I volunteer? Is it for the thank yous? Is it because I was brainwashed as kid? Why does anyone volunteer?

My answers are simple and complicated. I volunteer to make a difference, to effect change in my little part of the world. Somewhere in the mix is my responsibility to my girls to teach by example. So I will take a deep breath, pull up my sleeves, and get the job done. No quiting today.

Just in case, no one has said this to you today, thank you.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Passing of the note ah um the text?

Two years ago, we bought our oldest daughter a cell phone for emergency purposes only (hah). After a few mishaps of abuse of minutes, we came to a compromise. She would get a job and help pay for a better plan and we would not kill her. Thank goodness for Cricket. For about $50 a month she has unlimited calling and texting with all the bells and whistles. She makes few phone calls mostly to us but texting has become her form of communication. We hear her phone beep at least a hundred times a night and on the weekend...well forget about a count.

I think it is ironic that she can't have a verbal conversation without using a million too many words but is comfortable using twenty words or less in this form of communication. She has an extenisive friend group and will be in the middle of a dozen conversations at any given time. I suggested she IM this friends and she told me that no one IMs anymore. Dang it, I am no longer cool.

When I was young (the olden days as my kids call it), we would pass notes in school and come home to write long diatribes of our life, dreams, and even gossip that we would exchange at the beginning of each school day. If we used the phone it would be secretively in the closet just off the living room and in most cases, it was done quickly because you knew your parents were going to bang on the door asking what you were doing in there any second. When I was 17 my parents let me have my own phone extension in my room. Of course, I took this as a symbol of my impending adulthood. I was told later it was a compromise because if my Dad tripped over the phone line one more time, I was going die.

My daughter took on the poof of maturity when we gave her a phone. Believing that this was a symbol of adulthood or at least teenagehood. Frankly, we were just tired of having to track her down physically every time, we wanted to check in. We consider the cell phone a tether or leash to keep track of her. That and we are lazy.

Princess's father has little or no tolerance for the ongoing beeping or the phone that has become a permanent extension of my child's body. I tried explain that texting replaces the hours of note writing and passing that I participated in as a youth. This must be a girl thing. Mr. Man, (my husband) said he only passed notes to ask a girl out or to get a homework assignment. He became a little docile about texting until he found out that boys were texting Princess. It esculated into a big tadoo when he found out she was replying to boys that she vagualy knew.

I have to admit it got out of hand when strangers started texting her. So far nothing explicit or threatening has occured but a few boys out of her social radar got her cell phone number from a friend and were using it to hit on her or least to establish a friendship. Mr. Man decided that it was easier to change her phone number than sneek the phone out of her room and threaten unknown boys for daring to speak with his daughter. Shhhh, don't tell Princess, she thought the new phone was just a gift. However, I did suggest she tell her friends not give out her phone without asking first.

This last Christmas, our youngest daughter Twinkie asked and received her own cell phone. So far she mostly has used it to talk to her dad, sister, and me. Princess was a note writer in elementary school and quickly became an advid texter. Though Twinkie has never been a note passer and her friend pool has been small, she has recently found popularity in middle school. We are prepared for the worse. We have a call plan in place that if abused will not reval our mortgage bill. The other night, we heard a familiar beep and Princess opened her phone to find it did not come from her phone. Twinkie popped up, checked her phone, blushed and then clicked a few buttons to respond. I asked her, who it was...she replied, "Oh, it was (insert boy name)." Wouldn't you know that the youngest would skip right over a year of two of texting exchange with her girlie friends to a boy. So it begins....

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

In Denial

I was barely in the door last night when my oldest daughter, Princess came flying around the corner. The glow that was exuding from every pore of her being hinted at good news. I was numbed from a day of talking budgets and back to back meetings. Princess opened her mouth and spilled out a story. I stood there and blinked at her. I will admit all I heard wahwahwahwah like the teacher in a Peanuts cartoon. Side note: Have you noticed the ability teenage girls have to speak at an abnormal rate?

Back to story: I said okay slow down and start over. Now dear readers brace yourself. I am going to share her fabulous news and our conversation to the best of my ability. To fully visualize this experience think 1980's movie, now cue valley girl......

Princess: You know that guy that sits in front of me in French. You know the really cute one that just moved here this year and flirts with me. You know the one I have an uber crush on him. Last week, he reached behind and asked for my hands and like pulled me towards him then hugged my hands, remember? He has curly hair and blue eyes and this cute athletic body. The really hot sophomore. (Insert some girls name I can't remember here) said that she thinks its funny that I blush when I talk to him. But not in bad way that looks like I have hives but in a cute way that makes my cheeks pink. He asked me for my phone number. (one second delay for deep breath) He said that he and his friend (again any boy name insert here) are going to the movies this Friday and want me and that girl that sits on the side of the classroom with the red hair. You know the one that went to that thing with me and we bought those drinks. Oh yeah, (girl name). I think she came to my 5 year old birthday party and gave me that Christmas barbie doll, I have on my corner shelf. You remember her, she kept calling you teacher. (5 or 6 second pause as she waits for my response and takes a breath)

Mom: Ahh, ummm, sure I remember her. ( I have no blipping idea but pretend I do with the hopes she will continue and get this over with so I can go to bed. Princess continues to stare at me so I feel compelled to say something, anything.) The pretty barbie with the red dress? (Princess nods head but continuous to stare adding a weird grin to face. I walk over to get a drink of water, trying to stall her as I replay conversation. Oh crap, I just realized that she has informed she has been asked on a date. I turn to face her trying to cover my panic with a smile) So you have been asked on your first date?

Princess: Yes, he said that it would be fun. He walked me to my next class and we talked about what movie we should see and if I needed a ride. But I remembered on the way home from school today when I was talking to
(insert girl name) that I can't go Friday night because I have a game and I can't go on Saturday because I have a competition. Sunday, I have to work. How am I going to tell him that I am busy? Do you think he will think that I don't like him? (Pause for gasp of breath) Should I call him? He put his number in my cell phone. Or should I text him. Nobody emails anymore so I can't email him. I won't see him at school on Thursday because I have to go that thing for my club. Oh, did you dry clean my dress? Maybe, I will have my friend, B----- tell him I am busy. Do you think he will believe it? I ooops (Princess looks at cell phone in her hand) that is B---- texting me. Can you take me to school early tomorrow? (Turns back to me and leaves room) Great your the best. Love ya. (valley girl exits stage right and mom looks for wine. )

I dodged a missile this week. I am in denial about the real age of my child. I still see the pink cheek delight that she was not the hottie I have been informed she has become. I am sure that in the next week I will have to take a direct hit and allow my teen to date. God help me. Do I think she is mature enough and has a great head on her shoulder? Yes. Did I know this day was coming? Yes. But I had hoped that she intimated boys so much that I would have more time.