Pastor Jim told my youth group, “Just say thank you when someone praises you. Don’t argue with them.” We were about to sing and perform a skit for Youth Night, the church smelled nicely of baked goods and coffee, everyone backstage was excited (and flirtatious, we were teens after all.) I had speaking lines – but the boy I had a crush on was home writing a paper and missed it. I married Dan anyway.
There was a question on the “I am a Homeschool Group Leader” fb forum this morning – do your folks ask why you charge $5.00 for a class? The replies showed how inflated some of the coop members expectations were, and how little people know about renting a venue and paying event insurance. Rent and insurance actually are boring, so that’s not surprising. Sometimes people won’t show up and value your coop unless they have paid money – but mostly the dues are for something and are used. No one on that forum mentioned feeling appreciated today.
I mostly remember what Pastor Jim said, I may not argue with coop people out loud when they praise or thank me, but inside, I brush it off. I know how many goofs I make – and how often I forget to ask the board for help which would have avoided the goof in the first place. And some people do say thanks rather than step up to help out, though every heart has hidden stories and I don’t know the whole deal. Maybe it isn’t really worth their time to volunteer and I’m a chump for volunteering because it isn’t worth my time either.
If it’s true that someone will step forward if the job actually needs doing, and will benefit their own family, perhaps I have an inflated idea of how important my contribution is. But I do want my kids to have a coop to work at, and a testing coop to test at. So it’s my turn right now. I did remind everyone that K is entering third grade, and I won’t continue after she leaves Jr High. Dan reminded me that the person likely to take over for me may not even have joined the coop yet.
I wish I’d been more appreciative of the founder of Eagle’s Wings Coop – instead of offering her so much constructive criticism before she asked me to take over as she moved on to focus on other things. I had no idea how much work it was. I wish I’d been more polite to the testing coop organizer – that coop is three days annually, but it’s more work than Eagle’s Wings 2 planning meetings and 16 class days put together, including lesson prep.
I wonder if I need to spell out what I actually do, so the next person who does this knows what they are getting into, or if I need to delegate more so that we have a healthier group. But my e-mails are too long to read on a smart phone as it is, and it’s more important that people show up on time and remember not to leave empty yoghurt cups in the playground.
When the job is hard, when I mess up, when people complain about problems I may or may not have had power to control – I sure wish I’d paid attention when I was getting thanked. I think that noticing, savoring and appreciating the thanks, the little kid hugs, the Moms delight in meeting one another, the times other people have a place to share their talents with each other – is actually a discipline. I need more fuel than just other people’s appreciation, like prayer and speaking the truth to myself. But I do need to prioritize those memories when they happen.
Because, of course, Pastor Jim was right.