What happens when your child doesn’t care if you volunteer anymore?
Last year, my son was in the 4th grade. I had signed up for winter recess duty for the umpteenth time. I walked out to school playground, proudly wearing a new colorful scarf I found a few weeks before. I was trying to not look like I was trying too hard. This was a new school for my son, less than a mile from where he attended K-3rd. I wanted to make a good impression. To the other kids? The teachers? My son? I haven’t a clue. This is where I get a little nuts when I get a little nervous. But I was excited to see him. That’s one of the reasons I like to volunteer. Not to become PTO president (not that there’s anything wrong with that) but to take a breather from work and see my kids in their element. I glanced around the sports court and monkey bars. I finally spotted my son at the edge of the field playing tag and giggling with a group of boys. I smiled. There were so many kids this year. Girls taller than me, boys that looked like teenagers, and students I’d never seen who were obviously from the other neighborhood elementary schools. There were so many girl cliques, it was stressing me out. Was I in high school again? I was smiling at students I didn’t know; meeting new mothers who obviously volunteer more than I do and saying hello to kids I knew since they were in kindergarten but not so sure they remember me now. A hollow feeling came over me. Like Pepto on an empty stomach. I looked right at my son. He was running back and forth, chasing other kids. I waved. He didn’t wave back. Maybe he didn’t see me? I waited another few minutes. He didn’t acknowledge me. I swallowed my gum. I realized that I would remember this day for as long as I live. The day my kid became a tween. I cried in my husband’s arms that night.