Every Thursday since school’s inception I’ve assisted in my daughter’s classroom twice a week – Mondays for art or math exercises, and Thursdays by bringing a homemade snack. I’ve come to love this part of my week, especially my Thursdays. I know every single child there and would truly love to take each home. They seem to love me too – not in the “novelty of a stranger bringing food” but in the trusted, I’m-a-part-of-their-world way – because I’ve been there consistently for them.
I have to say, at first my volunteering felt like something I should do to be involved with my children. But now nothing could take away my gratitude and gladness I’ve been volunteering my time. Not because I gave yet more to my children, and not even because I gave to other children. But because being involved with children has given a lot to me. I see things through their eyes, with their loyalties and caprice, with their delight and short attention span. It matters so little if they like what I cook for them (they almost invariably do), so over the last months I’ve learned not to worry about that. What has come to mean a great deal to me is to learn to serve and let go out outcome, to listen to each child as I pass out their food at their places at the table. Most say, “Thank you,” many say, “What is this?” in frenzied excitement (today’s offering was a last-minute recipe discovery). Usually as I’m slicing fresh pita open or parsing out carrot sticks one of the children will come and wrap their arms around me, laying their head against me, or tell me, “I always like what you bring!” with a shining smile. It’s an amazing gift, that kind of unselfconscious display of affection. I put myself in the way of that affection by accident but I find myself so pleased to have it. By merely being there for the kids I know we will each be indelibly etched in one another’s memories for as long as we live, even as a tiny thread of early childhood that brings simple comfort and joy.
Later today involves that kind of evening routine I don’t look forward to: a series of meetings. First, the Afterschool Program with the kids at Central School. Following that, a Garden meeting and then a sewing date. I don’t like to do things at night. I want to be home, cooking dinner, hanging out with the family. Nothing expected of me but food on the table. Each and every activity is worth it’s while and I am willing and able to assist. Just sometimes I don’t know how I’ll get up a head of steam for my responsibilities.