Saturday, June 01, 2013

Stranger Danger

I don't tend to do so well at social functions, especially those that include people I don't know. No big surprise, and a feeling that many people can relate to. A small, private grade school, of course, is chock-full of such things, and this year of kindergarten has brought me to the outer limits of what I can handle in terms of new people, social events, and festivities with strangers. Classroom volunteering is great, I love to see the kids in action without their parents around. And most of the parents in our class are really pretty neat and interesting people. The galas and festivals and holidays and such are the struggles for me.

Recently, I volunteered at and attended one such event. I spent 90 minutes manning a rubber duck fishing booth at a carnival themed end-of-year celebration--and I barely made it out alive. Later that night, I was complaining about the events, the pre-established friendships among the people at the events, about how I felt mostly out of place and generally uncomfortable. I was a grumbly, arm-crossing, foot-stamping mess. I racked my brain for way to avoid such events next year. Then I started to feel sorry for myself, of course. And I wondered how everyone else handled event after event, mostly with multiple children, and how they managed and how they had fun doing it.

And that's when it hit me. These other parents weren't necessarily having fun either. They probably didn't want to fund-raise and distribute snacks and do whatever else we all have to do throughout the year in order to ensure a caring and thriving community for these kids. Some folks have made honest friendships, sure, and some people just really like to sell magazines or cookies or whatever, or be in charge of projects and be presidents of boards. But pretty much, just like me, everyone's just doing it for their kid--it's just that not everyone is as grumpy about it as I am.

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