One of the great advantages of staying at home with the kids is that I have time to volunteer in their classrooms. I wasn’t sure what to expect from being a classroom volunteer. Up until this year I had always been a “take home” volunteer which meant that if the teacher needed assistance cutting things out they would send them home and I’d do it in my spare time. I really enjoyed being able to help them out even if I couldn’t make it into the classroom.
I had my first experience as an acutal classroom volunteer last week. My first hurdle was actually finding Brendan’s classroom. I hadn’t been there since the first day of school, and his classroom is in an out of the way hallway that isn’t as easy to find as his previous classrooms were. Thankfully the ladies in the office were quite helpful in that respect. My second hurdle was his long term substitute. I met her when Brendan was in first grade, and she seemed nice enough back then but Brendan hasn’t been very happy with having her fill in this year. So I really wasn’t sure what to expect. As it turned out, she was just as nice as I remember her being from two years ago, but I have a better understanding of why Brendan is struggling with her. She is definately the type of teacher who doesn’t focus on any student individually. She directs her statements (both praise and discipline) to the classroom as a whole. Based on that I would have to guess that is how she teaches as well. Brendan thrives on individual attention so her teaching style definately wouldn’t sit well with him.
Once those two hurdles were cleared, all I had left was to figure out exactly what a classroom volunteer does. So I walked into the classroom and greeted his teacher. She apologized and said that the only thing she had for me to do was some cutting. I was fine with that, it was something I was very familiar with. So I settled down at the table and looked around the classroom for Brendan. I caught his eye and smiled at him. He quickly looked away and busied himself with the book and worksheet on his desk. I was very surprised, up until this year anytime Matt or I walked into his classroom Brendan would instantly (no matter what the class was doing at the time) stand up, wave, and shout hello. Could it be that my little boy was finally growing up? Or that he finally had come to understand that the social norm was to not shout out to your parents in front of your classmates? I wasn’t sure how I felt about that. I was sitting in a position in the classroom that I could keep an eye on him the entire time I was there. Every once in a while he’d look up from his work, but when he did he seemed to look right through me versus actually seeing me.
My 45 minutes of volunteer time passed uneventfully. When it was over, I cleaned up my station and said goodbye to his teacher and left. As I left the room the kids were getting settled onto the floor as they had a speaker coming in. Brendan was sitting down facing the front and didn’t even see me leave. When I picked up Brendan after school I decided to ask him about it. I gently teased him about being “too cool” to talk to his mom. He just looked at me calmly and said, “Mom, I pretended that you weren’t there because I was working and I didn’t want you to distract me.”
Sigh…what a grown up answer from my little guy. I can’t help but be both proud and a little sad that he’s growing up all at the same time.