Thursday, October 15, 2009

Stop Me before I Volunteer!

I have a button - you know the kind you pin on your shirt, backpack, or whatever. It has a picture of one of those perky 1960s women on it and says "Stop me before I volunteer again!" I received it as a gift from a friend who likes to tease me about my inability to say "no". Well, today I should have been wearing it. I think I lost it in the move....

My day's volunteer extravaganza actually started last night. Jack's Prep class (what they call kindergarten here) cooks on Thursdays. They were looking for volunteers for October and I thought, "hey, why not?" Since they don't really go all out for Halloween in Australia, I thought Halloween cookies would be a big hit with the kids. Today was my day to cook. I was worried because we wouldn't have time to refrigerate the dough after mixing it, so I made a batch ahead of time. That way I could pull a Rachael Ray-like switcharoo and "ta da" perfect cookie dough. But once I made the first batch, I worried that there wasn't enough for 24 kids, so I made another. Never mind that the recipe said one batch would yield 6 dozen cookies - I did not want to be short cookie dough with a bunch of ravenous "Preppies" looking on.

So, this morning I put on my Halloween spider shirt, filled a toy cauldron with ghost, Frankenstein, witch, pumpkin, and bat cookie cutters, and lugged all the ingredients to the school. Jack was over the moon about me coming to cook. I was happy he was happy, but really I was also feeling nervous. While I knew that it was unlikely a bunch of 5 and 6 year olds would swear at me, I still thought it could be "Hell's Kitchen." Let's face it - cooking with your own kids entails patience and a mop. Cooking with three groups of eight children was going to be a little daunting! (Did I mention that there are only 6 girls in the class?)

While the teacher got the kids settled into their start of morning routine, I set out the ingredients and checked my cooking space. It was going to be tight, one mini kids' table and a toaster oven. Well, I'd make it work.

The first group got started late as the kitchen also served as a change room for the other class's swimming lessons. When I did finally get them around the table, I made the rookie mistake of showing them the cookie cutters first. I could have added spinach to the recipe and some of the boys wouldn't have noticed. But, in the end, Jack's group did pretty well mixing up the dough, only getting a small amount of flour on themselves. They cut out their shapes and I managed to get the cookies out of the toaster oven unburnt. After another delay (a Grade 3 buddy project), I got the second group organized. By this time we only had time to roll out the actual dough (that goodness I brought plenty) and cut out their cookies. Well seven kids with nothing to do but wait for their turn to use the rolling pin wasn't going well, so I through caution to the wind and let them fight over the cookie cutters again. With only 10 minutes left before their class had swimming I sat the last group down, gave each a turn with the rolling pin (luckily no one used it as a weapon) and managed to shove the last batch into the oven. I'm sure it was not a Martha Stewart moment for anyone, but heck, all they were interested in was when they could eat one. They didn't care what went into them, or learning about measurements, or anything educational - they were hungry!

Frankly, that should have been the end of my volunteer day. But no... I had also signed up a few weeks before to help with their swimming class. Down I went with my new little friends to the school pool. I had been told that I probably wouldn't have to go into the pool but to come in my "togs" a.k.a "swimmers" a.k.a "swim suit." Unfortunately when we got down there the gym teacher announced that she would appreciate some help and if you had a suit on, jump in! Great! Out of twelve parents (yes, twelve) only two of us had on our togs. At least the pool was warm.

Again, I wish I would have stopped myself there, but no.....

I went home, grabbed a English muffin for lunch, changed out of my suit, and went back to the school for Caitlyn's swimming class. At least with a Grade 3 class, they didn't really need much help changing and I didn't have to go in the pool this time. All I had to do was calm my daughter down (she had an ant crawl onto her face right before and was somewhat hysterical - guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree with her dislike of creepy crawlies), check off the roll call list, and chat with the two other moms there.

It was a wild day, and I will probably (never say never) do three volunteering stints in a row again, but it was worth it. Caitlyn and Jack are only going to want me at their school for a couple more years. When they're older they will make me stay home or drop them off a block away. So, guess I until then... I'd better ignore the button.


  1. ha, ha - and you get material for your blog!

  2. Yes Jenny, enjoy these days. I was still "allowed" to volunteer in Middle school for Meagan, but Craig was done with me after grade 6. I still miss those days and wish for them back - well... sometimes :) Enjoy! xo