Wednesday, January 11, 2006


Day 27 OT

Everyone has a few things in life that, no matter how hard they try, no matter how much they want to succeed, they are simply not good at. Or don’t enjoy doing. Or have tried, and should NEVER, EVER do again. For me, it’s singing karaoke in public. Playing any kind of sport that requires any athletic ability in the least. And finding the image in those damn Magic Eye Pictures. No matter how hard I try, listening to my friends go on and on about how easy it is … “just relax your eyes, can’t you see the {insert} duck/bunny/house in the middle? You’re not relaxing” No, no, NO … I can’t see it!!!!! AAAaaggggghhhhh! I hate those things!

Oh, and one other thing I don’t like to do and try to avoid at all costs: spending time with children.

Now, obviously, I have three kids, so I spend time with them, no matter what. And even though they drive me crazy, I usually enjoy being with them.

No, I’m talking about spending my FREE time with children. Specifically, with children that are not my own, doing things that I don’t like to do. Even more specifically, volunteering to read with children at the elementary school my kids attend. Even more, more specifically, ***being volunteered*** to read with kids. Stay-at-home moms everywhere know just what I’m talking about, don’t you?

I spend a LOT of time volunteering at my kids’ school. And I like it. I spend every Tuesday helping three different teachers organize their weekly take-home folders. I am the official PTO secretary and the un-official PTO photographer. So far this year, I have worked Picture Day, the Book Fair, the Secret Santa Workshop, PTO fundraisers, and proctored 4th grade and 5th grade testing. I am in my kids’ classroom for every holiday party, Parent’s Day, Career Day (even though I don’t technically have a career …. at least not one I get paid for!) Craft Day and Cooking Activity, and I have helped make cupcakes to celebrate the PTO monthly birthday party. I have shelved books in the library and helped pass out pizza for reading reward parties. You know what? I don’t mind at all. In fact, I kind of like it.

I like being able to keep an eye on my kids, and on the kids that my kids hang out with. I like getting to know the teachers, the administration, and the other parent volunteers. I like being a part of the activities, most of which are fun. There’s a reason Blaine and I decided I wouldn’t work (besides the fact I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up) …. that we don’t live in a bigger house or drive newer cars or vacation in Acapulco every Spring Break. For now, *this* is my job, and I like it, even though the monetary compensation leaves a little to be desired.

But there is one thing I do NOT like to do: read with children. Read to children. Have children read to me.

I do not like to read to kids,
I do not want to, God forbid.
And if I had to, if I did,
I’d rather eat a giant squid.

If I wanted to work one on one with kids, especially kids who are struggling, I would have gone to school to be a teacher. Or a tutor. Or even taken the class to be a substitute. But it’s not a passion I have. It’s not even something I do very well. I have a tendency to yawn --- a lot --- whenever I’m being read to. It’s boring. It’s even boring when my own kids do it. And really, yawning in front of your own kid is rude enough …. Yawning in front of some other kid, not even related to you, is even ruder.

I’m not good at it. I don’t enjoy it. I. Don't. Want. To.

I tried it last year. For six weeks, I showed up every Thursday afternoon to read with a very sweet boy in the 5th grade. He was a quiet, polite, well-mannered kid. His reading skills were atrocious. Listening to him read made me want to plug my ears with those little things you stick in the ends of your corn on the cob. I was not good at pretending to be fascinated, or thinking up questions to ask him, or quizzing him on what he had just read to see if his problem was actually reading, or retention. Don’t you think if I had ANY of those skills, I would have gone into teaching as a profession???

So, I did what any normal, cowardly, person would do. I lied. I told his teacher that since my youngest daughter was being treated for cancer and I never knew exactly when we might need to go to Atlanta, or when she might be feeling poorly, I didn’t think I was reliable enough to be a weekly reading helper. It was not only a lie, it was a big fat lie. Truth was, I just hated it, but didn’t have the guts to say so.

But it got me out of it, and that's all that mattered.

Then, yesterday, it happened. A different teacher asked if I would be available to come in once a week to be a (sigh) reading tutor. Believe me, I understand that some kids need an extra boost. I understand that there just aren’t enough hours in the day for the teacher to do it all herself, and that stay-at-home moms like me … who have **chosen** to stay home so we can be as involved as possible, are sometimes their best hope for back up.

But please, ask me to help kids make a life-size igloo out of cotton balls, or help with the costumes for the Literary Parade. Ask me to organize the games for 50's Night, or donate for the Bake Sale. Ask me to bring three dozen juice boxes for a class party, or take home seven hundred laminated papers that need to be cut into the shape of Mount Rushmore. I’m happy to sit in for the 3rd grade writing tests next Wednesday and Thursday (that reminds me, I’ve got to put that on my calendar!) or help decorate the bulletin boards in the commons area.

Just whatever you do, don’t ask me to read with kids. Because now that Kendrie is off-treatment, I’ve got to come up with some other fib about why I’m unavailable for that particular project. Who would have ever thought I would long for the “good ole’ days” when I could use her chemo schedule as an excuse???

Wish me luck coming up with another one, because I sure as heck won’t find the courage to just tell the truth.


We were sitting at dinner the other night, trying to entice Kendrie to actually eat some of the fresh fruit I had put on her plate and not make an entire meal out of the shredded cheese we had sitting on the table. I was explaining that shredded cheese is a “topping” for spaghetti, not a food group in and of itself. She said cheese is what she likes (simple enough, right?) and all she wanted for dinner. Exasperated, I made the comment, “Kendrie, before chemo, you used to eat fruit all the time …. You *have* to start eating it again because it’s healthy for you” and Brayden, always the helpful one, chimed in with, “Yeah, but Mom, I remember you saying that the medicine she took might have made her taste bugs like different things.”

Taste bugs?

It was so cute I barely had the heart to correct her. But I did. Because that’s my job as a parent, to squelch every cute thing they do. And try not to yawn when they read to me.

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