autumn days

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Getting to Volunteer at School

I got to volunteer in my children's school for the first time this week.  My oldest child is nine, so this may be a strange declaration.  My children were homeschooled until this September.  We had chosen last spring to give public school a try after too much time together was not benefiting my relationship with my persistent, determined son.  He now loves kindergarten, playing with peers, dressing for the occasion, and daily free choice time with different art mediums.

My children's school is having a canned food drive.  Last week they could have a popsicle at lunch if they brought in a certain number of canned goods.  As the parent of children going through a lot right now, I wanted my children to be like the other kids (whose parents prepared for these things in advance) and get the prize this time.  My children don't make a big deal out of most things, though this day I felt I wanted to show them I show up for them in this way.  After my children went to school, I put their canned goods into bags, wrote a love note on the outside of each, and delivered them to their respective classrooms (unlike the lunch bag mix up that occurred the day before).  When I said to a teacher I wanted my children to be able to have a popsicle, I really meant I want them to know I am here to support them in a variety of ways.

Teachers hugged me and expressed their condolences for the loss of my partner to lung cancer two weeks prior.  Now that I am no longer struggling to simultaneously care for my ailing partner, my home, and my children, I get to have the energy to reach out and connect with others in new ways.  I talked with the third grade teacher about how it would be fun to team teach the group of 38 students together, and volunteered to grade papers at home.  (Before my first was one year old, I had the privilege of teaching third grade.)  Near the office, there was a great project underway with an artist in residence.  What a colorful, child-crafted scene!

So this week I returned to school with a cracker-eating toddler on my back to spread and coax charcoal grout into a permanent mural.  I found such delight in meeting new people, having small conversations with other adults, working without talking, caking my hands with black chunks, pouring buckets of black water outside in the sunshine, narrating my actions for my toddler, using my body to do things other than care for children and tackle mountains of paperwork.  Simple delights.  I got to volunteer in my children's school for the first time this week.  I look forward to an unfolding of relationships and new delights within each new day, and within this new-to-us community.

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