Something’s Gotta Give

14 05 2009
These ladies were painting in the rose garden on my last day

At least the roses are in bloom

I’m holding out for the luncheon. That’s it. The food was good last year, and as soon as I polish off my chicken salad, I’m going to tell them that I can’t volunteer anymore as an education docent at the botanical gardens.

Here’s the drill: school groups come to the botanical gardens on a field trip, and we offer them guided tours that match the state science curriculum.

I can think of a hundred reasons I don’t want to do it anymore–it’s a three-hour chunk of time, twice a month. Invariably I’m due to lead a school tour the day before a story deadline. I rarely look forward to going and instead have come to view it as a burden. And my docent partner, a retired teacher, can be a bit overbearing. But I’ve decided to go with this one: I no longer have the time to devote to this worthy endeavor. Because I don’t. I have officially overscheduled myself.

Do you think it’s awful I’ve decided to break the news to them at the volunteer appreciation luncheon? I figure it’s as good a time as any. Unless, of course, they bestow on me some silly volunteer award that I obviously don’t deserve, just because they sense I’m about to jump ship and they’re…desperate. In which case, I’m sure to feel overloaded with guilt and won’t have the guts to back out. At least not right then.

At least this way it will give them time to recruit more volunteers during the summer when they don’t give school tours. That’s my rationale, anyway.

The fact is, things are different for me now. Freelancing is lonely work. But either I’ve really come to relish working alone, or I’ve found better ways to get my social fix. When I signed up to volunteer two years ago, I wanted something that would get me out of the house. Being outdoors with groups of kids seemed like a nice gig, and it made those unbearable lulls during which I was working on, oh, nothing, a little easier to swallow. It was a distraction.

But I’ve since gotten a little busier with work and volunteering at the kids’ school. Add in their extracurriculars and a few Spinning classes, and you’ll understand why the best weekends are those that have nothing on tap.

So today was my last tour. Of course, it had to be this insanely bright and delightful group of kids who must have been sent over from some parallel universe where no one has ADHD or stifles a yawn during your lengthy description of rainforest adaptations. (Actually this group was from a Montessori school, but close enough). One second-grade boy walked around with a clipboard saying he was cataloging plants. I looked at his paper, and it looked like an early sketch of an Audubon Society field guide. His favorite subject, he told me, was biology. Three girls, also about 7 years old, said they liked math best. Pinch me.

With these kids, I hardly noticed the three hours go by. Quitting this was going to be harder than I thought. But something’s gotta give.




2 responses

15 05 2009
Wade Kwon

“No” is the most powerful tool of time management. Use it often.

15 05 2009

True, true.

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