Just a word of caution, here. This might turn into more of a rant. I'm okay if you want to browse through my archives today, instead. You know what they say: Forewarned is forearmed.
*big deep breath*
Most of you should know my stance on volunteerism, right? You've read my letter to parents, you've seen enough posts about how often both Coach and I volunteer, and you've even seen some posts on Jock's volunteering. Which is exactly what I want to talk about today.
How many 16 year old boys do you know that spend ANY time volunteering, let alone a significant amount? And by significant, I mean anything more than the couple of hours a month their mom makes them spend mowing Grandma's yard, or community service hours required by the school. No, I'm talking about volunteer time that is WILLINGLY donated, over and above what may be required by someone else. This is the kind of volunteering that Jock does. Especially every baseball season. This season has been no exception, and with our local Little League hosting both a District AND a State Tournament, there have been extra hours needed from volunteers. My son has once again stepped up to the plate (ha! Baseball puns for baseball volunteering! Not intentional, but I'm not taking it out, either!) and willingly donated his time. Time that (even while I don't see it) is extremely valuable to a teenage boy.
Before every--EVERY--game, he is there to help with field set up and prep. There are two fields a night to set up and prep. This includes setting up the score keeper tables, roping off the dugouts and score keeper table, setting up the shade structures for the score keeper table, chalking the fields, and just generally making sure the park is ready for the teams playing to arrive. Then, he also donates multiple nights to being the official pitch count recorder at one of the fields (generally two games per field per night). He also works in the concession stand. (To be fair, he now gets paid to work in the concession stand. However, he was volunteering in there long before that ever happened, and even now has been seen volunteering in there on nights he's not scheduled.) And at the end of the night, he stays with me and helps to take down the score keeper tables and shade structures and generally make sure the fields and park are left in good condition for the next day. He does not do this for recognition; in fact, I don't think anyone at the school even realizes he does this. He's not doing it for padding on a college application, although he was happy when I pointed out that we could add all of this to those applications when he starts sending them out. No, he does it just because he's a good kid.
There are 13 members on our Little League board right now. Of those 13, there are at least 6 others who have teenage children. Teenage children who are perfectly happy to help out when they get paid, but can never be found or counted on when they are just volunteering. I wonder why that is? And I also wonder why it is that when additional volunteer time is needed, one of those parent-of-another-teenager board members (who has a child that is not only getting paid to work the concession stand but paid to empty the garbage cans each night) ALWAYS suggests MY son be the go-to kid, even if that means taking him off of one of the few paid shifts he has. Why are these other parents not suggesting their children step up and volunteer? Do they think it's enough that they, as parents, are volunteering? How can you expect your child to learn the importance, value and satisfaction that volunteerism is if you don't encourage them to do it, themselves? How can they learn that just by watching you?
Kids don't learn to walk by watching you. They don't learn to speak by watching you. They don't learn to ride a bike or swim by watching you. No. They learn BY ACTUALLY DOING IT.