30 hours

Not every family is created equal. And I’m pissed. Warning: ranting follows.

I received an email today from Ethan’s school. It was a mass email to all the parents about how families aren’t volunteering as they should. The email said that every family needed to commit to a minimum of 30 volunteer hours in a school year.

That’s fine. Doesn’t seem outrageous, given that this time is spread from September through June. I already volunteer in a variety of ways – I copy papers for the teacher twice a month; I’ve made (or purchased) treats for the class for various activities; I participated in making pies for the big fundraiser.

About making those pies…

For that fundraiser, every family was asked to commit to three three-hour shifts from Friday morning through Saturday night. I volunteered for one three-hour shift. As the pie fundraiser was drawing closer, I listened as the moms talked about splitting the volunteer time between themselves and their husbands. I overheard divorced parents talking about dividing their time to meet the obligation.

My thought was, “Fuck it. I don’t have someone to split my time with so one shift is all they get from me.”

And that was fine.

But now, being asked – required? – to commit to 30 volunteer hours in a school year makes me angry. I can’t split that time with anyone. It’s me. All me. Thirty hours from ME. There isn’t a significant other to offset that commitment.

That means 30 hours taken away from my kids, and that seems pretty contrary to how a parochial school should operate.

And if I don’t do my 30 hours of volunteer work – as tracked by some fancy new tracking website? Apparently, there’s a “buy out” option that I can use to PAY my way out of the obligation. (Because paying tuition and buying uniforms every three months because of Ethan’s growth spurts and all the other nickel-and-dime charges through the year isn’t enough…)

I understand volunteering. I get the need for involved parents – hell, I am a pretty involved parent. But to be told how much I have to do – and to have the obligation the same for ALL families, regardless of their structure or resources – is bullshit.

I don’t often play the widow card, but the school might be getting a smack down from me in the next few days as “volunteering details” and tracking software are unveiled.

Because I have time for this…

11 thoughts on “30 hours

  1. They should at least cut it down to 15 hrs. I mean, 30 hrs per family sounds fine, but that’s only if you assume there are two parents to share the load. 30 hours from ONE parent? Ridiculous.

    • I know! There are a thousand reasons that a family might not be a two-parent household, and to assume that everyone can give this much time? Plus, this isn’t the way to get people to volunteer for the right reasons – it’ll just be to fulfill a requirement, not because people actually care. I’m working on my response to the school now. It’ll be a doozy!

  2. I’m sorry, but that is horseshit. Dictating how you spend your family time is waaaaaay overstepping IMHO. And what about parents who have to work extra hours to pay that tuition? Or take care of elderly parents? Or have special needs children? Or do other community service? Or are widowed? It seems like to get “excused ” from this a parent would have to divulge their other commitments, and that’s none of the school’s business.

    • Agree. It really pisses me off that they’re dictating how much time I spend “volunteering.” Or that I would be asked to pay more money if I don’t fulfill the 30 hour requirement. Ridiculous.

  3. Yes, it’s a one-size-fit’s-all mentality. I do wish that the widow card was the same as a golden ticket. It’s not but it’s all we’ve got. Use it, friend. And, then, just continue to do the best you can. “Bright and Shiny” parent can just keep stacking up points for all I care. My kids were glad to get “alive and present.”

    • Yeah, it didn’t help my relationship with my sister. And (of course) she’s totally clueless and doesn’t understand why we don’t have a picture-perfect sibling relationship…

  4. I’m sorry but I just don’t understand a REQUIREMENT to donate time. Isn’t that a contradiction of sorts? If it were me in your position I tell them to f*&k off because I do the best I can with what I have and what I have is half of what the rest of you do (meaning help on the home front). If they didn’t like that, I wouldn’t worry because I’d know my kids know and maybe even more importantly God knows what is in my heart and that has to be good enough for the rest of the ding dongs that expect more than what is right. Just do what you can; and do what YOU WANT! Its your life after all and if your kids want you there then I suppose that can be enough motivations. But if the kids couldn’t care less…then its ok. You must take care of yourself! If someone doesn’t understand that then as Jesus said, “forgive them for they know not what they do” . I interpret that these days as “forgive them Lord for they have not been through it.”

      • Good for you!!!! ^5 Don’t back down, ok? I mean, stay sane and all that but don’t let them bully you or make you feel like you’re making a mountain out of a nugget. Or, God forbid that you are being lazy or selfish. That guilt/shame thing you know what I’m talking about. Don’t even let that crap in to the dialog.

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