Thursday, December 01, 2005

Playing Hookey

On the first and third Thursday of each month, I volunteer at my children's school library. When I signed up to do this, it was under the impression that I'd help get various big-picture projects done or to work on things that the librarians simply can't get to because they are busy doing librarian work. Since I love books but not so much kids, I figured this would be a great thing because I'd be helping at the school in a way that didn't involve a lot of direct hands-on kid contact but a lot of exploring of children's literature. Brownie points without the pain. Very cool, indeed.

Not so much. I spend my two hours and forty five minutes every other Thursday making sure the kids check books out properly, checking in the books they return, shelving the 5,000 books stacked up on the to-be-shelved trolley, and maybe inserting new cards into the card catalog. By far nothing glamorous or life-altering. Heck, it's not even library altering. Sure, it's usually quiet and the kid-contact is kept at counter-distance, but it's definitely not what I'd pictured myself doing.

I'm not complaining, mind you. I do this all while the librarian is working with different classes that come into the library for various things. She's very busy, and if I weren't there, I imagine the stuff I do wouldn't get done until the next day. Clearly the school could use a second librarian or a paid part timer to get the mundane stuff done, but I imagine there is no budget for this low level work. If they need parents to fill in this gap, I'm there. This is why I didn't go back to work, so I could Be There to Help Out When Needed. That's my job, ma'am.

Thing is, I'm not feeling so hot today. I have a cold that started off slowly last week and even looked to be all gone but is making a vicious comeback. I cannot breathe, and even the King Sudafed is doing no good. My throat is all scratchy and I'm hoarse. I don't have a fever and this isn't the kind of knock-me-off-my-feet dealie I get at least twice a year, but I just don't feel great.

So I called in sick.

And I feel humongous guilt about it.

Why? I mean, I don't get paid. I'm a volunteer. This is me helping out, not me earning a living.

And I'm guessing on the other 18-19 days of the school month that I'm not in the library, things go on pretty smoothly without me. So me not being there today is no big deal. What I do doesn't make the difference between some sweet first grader learning how to read versus ending up on the streets living a life of crime because he didn't learn how to spell C-A-T and thus was doomed to total scholastic failure. Books won't get shelved. Kids will have to check out books all by themselves. Life will go on.

Even so, I feel like I'm playing hookey. I plan to spend these newly freed hours sitting on the couch with a cuppa, catching up on TiVoed Buffy episodes I've already seen a half dozen times. But this is what my body is calling for today. I need some pure down time (and don't get on me about how I should be/could be writing 'cause I've got all the heapin' helpin' of guilt I can swallow for one day, thankyouverymuch). I need to wrap up in two layers of blankets and maybe catch a nap.

You know, it doesn't matter where you work or if you work or what you do. Being a woman who takes time out because she's sick just sucks any way you spin it.


Anonymous said...

Playing hookey is good for the soul, MacDad. Just do not feel guilty while doing so, or you'll cancel out the full effect.

Anonymous said...

You are thinking about it all wrong -- you shouldn't be thinking of the work that didn't get done, but of all the kids that you didn't infect with your germs. Considering you probably picked up the cold from the school in the first place, the last thing they needed it someone spreading it around even further. ;)

But I had to chuckle at your description of your tasks. That is exactly what I did every week when my daughter was in Kingergarten. I worked for 2 hours in the library helping check out books and shelving the returns while the librarian did her "professional" stuff, then spent the rest of the afternoon helping in my daughter's classroom. ('Cause, you know, I was there anyway ... )

In the K class, the work was even less glamorous (photocopying worksheets, cutting out shapes for the upcoming craft project), but honestly, even more rewarding. There is no way to undervalue how good it is to get to know your kids' teachers and classmates. And the teachers are usually beside themselves with joy when they actually have a parent who is willing to help.

So feel good about what you do, and don't worry about what you can't. Believe me, they aren't angry at you for calling in sick ... they do it, too. That's why God made substitute teachers. *g*

Kathy :)