Today I started a new chapter in my life and started work as Student Activities Director for 3PO and Jammy's elementary school. That's a fancy way of saying I come in at lunchtime to plan, organize, and lead student enrichment activities. Okay, that was probably just as fancy a description! How about: I do Chalk Art Mondays, Tournament Tuesdays, Game Cart Wednesdays, Walking Club Thursdays, Dance Party Fridays, and just about anything else I think the kids might enjoy.
How in the world did I find myself in this position? I've been blogging for so long, I wonder if it will feel strange to be in a job with so much person-to-person interaction. Why would I even want to do this? It started about a year ago, when I signed on to be co-president of the PTA. I had lost one of my regular blogging gigs, and I filled the time with PTA duties, but I knew I'd have more free time once my PTA term was up, and I wanted to fill it with something. I also got to know the staff better, including parents with kids at the school who were working part time. The idea of working part time at the school appealed to me, especially the idea of playing with kids at lunch. I love planning kids' parties and I blog about kids' activities at The Savvy Source, so its a good fit for my interests at this point in my life. Of course, the extra money doesn't hurt, although it's not much; I could easily blow a day's pay on lunch. One of the biggest reason I sought this opportunity was the realization that 3Po and Jammy only have a year left at this school, and I'm not quite ready to leave the community that has been our home ever since The Pea entered kindergarten.
Ironically, 3Po and Jammy are also the biggest reason I hesitated. While I'm a person who doesn't mind being the center of attention, 3Po and Jammy take after their dad and avoid the spotlight like the plague. They're uncomfortable being singled out, even for a reason as inocuous as being absent for a few days, or showing up at school with a cast on their arm, or getting called out of class for a doctor's appointment. They're apprehensive at the thought of their mom working at school and their friends making a big deal of it. I told them I'd try to stay out of their way, but if duty called, I wasn't about to shirk it and I sure wasn't about to take their side just because they were my kids. After I talked to them about family supporting one another, they agreed to give it a chance. 3Po told me he'd do what he could to help me out -- because it would be even more embarrassing if I was a total failure at my job! Not quite the kind of support I was talking about, but it's coming from a 10 year-old boy, so I'll take it :)
My first day went pretty well. I'm staying low key for now, no big tournaments or beach parties. I helped some little boys build towers out of buckets and knock them down. We experimented with the best ways to build the towers and the best place to aim in order to knock them down. They want to do it again tomorrow. I'll take that as a success.
Once I had decided to go ahead and take the job, I sought the advice of everyone I could. Teachers. Staff. Past Student Activities Directors. Everyone has been very supportive and full of great tips and advice. They've all assured me that there is no right or wrong way to do this job, it's what I make of it.
One of the previous directors gave me a great piece of advice: If you're having fun, they will too. The second director gave me an even better piece of advice: It's not just about organizing flag football games or planning Field Day (which apparently is a huge production that involves lots of parent volunteers and a carful of watermelons). It's about getting the kids to try new things and stay active.It's about making sure that every kid is happy and comfortable on the playground. It's about encouraging the older kids to be leaders and mentors to the younger ones. It's about playing with the kid who always eats alone and maybe even coaxing him to join the others. It's about teaching the others to welcome anyone into a circle of play. It's about giving the kids another person to trust and know they have someone to turn to in any situation. It's about building community.
I think I'm going to like this job.