September 1, 1999

We're just some parents who can't say no
___Remember that song from the musical "Oklahoma" where the young female lead sings "I'm just a girl who can't say no"?
___Change the tense and the gender, and that's our theme song this fall. OK, maybe other times in the past as well. But especially right now.
___You see, school has just started again, and we awoke one morning to discover we've committed ourselves to a
bit more volunteer work than we realized we were going to. We were alerted to this by a sinking feeling in the pit of the stomach that seemed to scream out, "Oh, my goodness, how are we going to get all this stuff done?"
___In our defense, I have to explain that we volunteered to be Cub Scout leaders last spring, and then we went the whole summer without hearing any more about it. So we assumed maybe that wasn't going to happen, and as a result we said yes to other things. And then just about the time school started, we found out Cub Scouts really was going to happen. Uh-oh.
___Somewhere in the midst of this, Alison went to the volunteer coffee the first week of school and felt compelled to sign up for at least one of everything available. I think they must have disguised this whole affair to look and feel like a shopping spree, so that hapless moms felt like they were signing charge-card slips at Dillard's.
___But then there's always the pull of the sad story as well. You know, the "we can't find anyone else to do this" story.
___I get the award for that one this year. Someone from church called to enlist Alison to help with the children's missions program on Wednesday nights. Alison wasn't home (and wouldn't have been available for this assignment anyway because she had committed to something else during the same time period). I felt so guilty when I learned that no teacher had been found for our twin boys' class, that I volunteered myself.
___I know a lot of parents worry that their kids are overextended with extra-curricular activities. I understand that, but now I'm starting to worry about our kids' parents more than them.
___We're certifiable, that's all there is to it. I went to the volunteer coffee with the idea in mind that I would sign up for two minor positions in each boy's class. The two years prior to this, I avoided being a "classroom representative" because my twin boys would expect me to do the same thing in each of their classes, and Ididn't think I could split myself in half.
something funny happened in that cafeteria. Not only did I sign up for a classroom representative in one class, I signed up as the head classroom representative in the other. I can't exactly explain what happened, except to say that everybody told me the "head" job is actually easy if you have all the other classroom representative slots filled. I fell for it, hook, line and sinker. As you probably have figured out, this is no ordinary elementary school when it comes to parent volunteers. Our school has amazed us with the number of people (primarily women) who volunteer for a variety of things. But, as a result, the PTA has created more and more things to volunteer for, and thus you feel obligated to sign up for at least a few of them.
___I restrained myself. Sort of. I'm only working in the library and helping with the carnival. I also managed to sign Mark up for something as well. Misery loves company.
___Right after I signed up for all this stuff, I found out that Cub Scouts was back on again. I nearly fainted. And then I couldn't sleep for two nights. Now I just need to find time to do some of the work I get paid to do. Don't ask me when. Maybe Mark and I need to encourage each other by singing that old hymn, "We'll work 'til Jesus comes."
___Let's hope he comes before school is out.


He Said/She Said is a new regular feature of the Baptist Standard's on-line edition. Mark Wingfield is managing editor of the Standard. Alison Wingfield is a freelance writer. The Wingfields moved to Texas in January from Louisville, Ky., where Mark had been editor of the Western Recorder, in which this column appeared weekly.

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