Tuesday, January 12, 2010

"The Future's Uncertain"...

"...and the end is always near."

I always liked the rather dire portent of the old Doors song, "Roadhouse Blues".  I have a feeling that Morrison, Manzarek, Densmore, and Krieger's conception of "the future" may have been more abstract than mine.

I have trouble seeing my future mere days, even hours, ahead of me.  I mean this in terms of trying to make a decision that I think I'll be happiest in.  And these aren't earthshaking decisions, many of them, such as whether or not to stay married.  The example I'm thinking of right now is whether to volunteer for Scott's class on Tuesdays or Wednesdays.  I honestly can't get a clear enough picture of myself in either scenario to guide my choice.

Is anyone else like this?

Already I have a history of ambivalence with volunteerism, in this case, at my kids' schools.  I've written some posts about this.  In a perfect world our schools would be so well resourced that I could blithely just let them do their job.  However, I'm all too aware that our teachers carry a heavy burden and it's not really fair to take advantage of their altruism too long.  I'm convinced I need to Do My Part, especially since the one year I gave myself permission to sit out volunteering Scott really suffered.

Last year I volunteered on two separate days:  Mondays at Connor's school, and Wednesdays at Scott's.  I wanted to consolidate to one day--Get It Over With.  The theory is that the day is shot anyway, so I might as well limit the damage to just that one day.  At Connor's school I go in about 12:30 to have one of the language arts students read to me.  They're reading from a really interesting literature text, and frequently I'll finish the story later, at home, when Connor brings his books.  When Scott moved into a different classroom this year I was pro-active and suggested Mondays to his new teacher.  Some days he wouldn't need help, and when I was lucky those days coincided with days Connor's teacher didn't need help.  Whee! The Trillium gig is from 10:30-11:45.  It worked pretty well, because I could stop at my house on the way to Connor's school for lunch.

Sunday before returning from winter break I asked Rob if he needed help on Monday.  He said he didn't think so; how about Tues?

Oh no.  Can't do it.  I've been dyingwaiting for this week when they go back to school; I'd been living with this threat that my MIL might come to stay with us and I be her caregiver; and it was a very trying time-off anyway.  I emailed him back and told him Tuesdays aren't good.  Mondays are good.  Then the week fell apart anyway, with our lice issues and Rob ill with something (maybe from his winter-break Baja trip?  Jealous much?).

So, when I brought Scott to school yesterday we stopped by the nurse's desk for the lice check (clear!) and on to class where I asked if my help was needed.  He said no, and asked if Tuesdays weren't good...the intermediate classes (there are 4 classrooms with grades 3-5) have begun a Tuesday/Wednesday program called "Math Cohorts."  The kids are grouped in 4 groups, according to their abilities and experience.  Scott's in Lindsey's group, would I be interested in helping her?  He took me over to meet her where she eagerly snapped me up.  She would love to have my help.  I said I'd check my schedule and get back to her.

I've been worried about Scott's math abilities.  Any math computation skills he has are very limited, and rote.  He really doesn't think mathematically--doesn't seem to grasp the fundamentals.  It would be best for him that I volunteer and get a clear idea of how he does in the classroom and what she sees.

So which day is best?  I'm at Connor's school Mondays.  Is it best to have a commitment-free day between--as a bit of a reward and rest?  Do the volunteer-thing for Scott on Wednesday?

What complicates this is The Drive.  Scott's school is 9 miles and about 20-25 minutes away, and a 1000' descent (and a river crossing).  Between our house and his school is the Dojo, where I work off my membership by opening for the owners each day.  Since Gary's now home all day I not only open, I usually just stay, since I'm not comfortable writing at home when he's around (I miss those days when he was at the office and the quiet house was mine).  On days I volunteer at Scott's school I either make a brief detour on the way to open before I get Scott to school, and then hang out at a coffee shop in Scott's school's neighborhood, or I return to open the Dojo after I've dropped him.  Since Scott loves his sleep, it usually works out that we don't leave early enough for me to open first so I've been taking Scott to school, backtracking to the Dojo. Then I write for about an hour, return to the school to volunteer, then either back to the dojo, up to the house, or up to Connor's school.  There's still the final return trip to pick him up at the end of the day.  It's not very elegant, and offends something inside of me.

It's a good thing I don't seem to need my Alone Time the way I once did.

Now I need to decide which day will work to my best peace-of-mind advantage.

Wednesdays have a further complication.  I see my counselor, Sharon, at 5:50.  Her office is a few miles further south from Scott's school.  When I pick up Scott from school on Wednesdays I usually get him home just before 4:00.  I then turn around and leave about 4:30, and drive nearly the same route past the school.  If I leave later I get caught in some big traffic, oftentimes just trying to get down off our hill, which is a major bottleneck.  I like to use the time left over from the drive in her waiting room, thinking about the week and what I'd like to talk with her about.

My problem is, I'm simply unable to create two visions of me volunteering--one on Tuesday, and one on Wednesday, and see myself in each...and see clearly which will be the least uncomfortable.  I can't hold the two visions stable long enough to get a clear picture of which has the most advantage to my peace of mind.  I've been exasperated by myself many times in the past where I've had a minor choice to make, made it, and then when I'm living with the consequences of that choice all of the details that would have made a difference had I realized them before now are obvious, and it's clearly obvious I should have chosen the other path.  DAMN, I HATE THAT!

And to further exasperate myself, there is even a shorter-term vision to consider.  I'm leaning toward Tuesdays, simply because there's one less zag on that day.  Even if I've already said Tuesdays aren't good, they look better now.   Next week however, will be a trifecta if I choose Tuesdays.  Monday is Connor-volunteer day; Tuesday hypothetically Scott-day, Wed I have to take Gary to the airport in the morning.  He's going to the Outdoor Recreation trade show in Salt Lake to do his thing as sales representative for the new company he's "working" for, as part partner and part employee.  There's no longer a taxi courtesy of his old company...no longer is his airport parking covered.  So the plan for that day was to take Scott to school, with Gary along as company (and a stop along the way to open the Dojo), then take Gary to the airport.  Theoretically I could be back at Scott's school in time to volunteer, and the day would be shot anyway, so why not?

Peculiarly, I sense an answer, but it's certainly not coming from sounding out all the letters and piecing together a sentence before I extract meaning.  There's a kind of certainty that what I need to do is tell Lyndsey that Tuesdays are better, but next week WEDNESDAY will be better.  Since today is Tuesday and it's nearly 11:00, I won't be there today, or tomorrow.  Next week I'll be there on Wed, since I'll be on that side of the river anyway, and coming back that direction, but from then on Tuesdays it is.  This knowing is like looking at the shape of a sentence and getting its meaning, but not from the process of deciphering each individual word.  I guess that's the difference between intuitive knowing, and conscious-brain knowing.

With any luck, in the future I can get Gary to take Scott to school on Tuesdays, and pick him up on Wednesdays.

Thanks.  You've all been a great help.


Sheri said...

I have a belief that things should be neat and orderly, especially when it entails driving, errands, etc...as though there is a "right=efficient" way to do it and a "wrong=not-so-efficient" way to do it.

It sounds like you looked at several angles and possibilities and came up with a flexible solution that works for now.

Hopefully you have the flexibility to change the schedule week-to-week depending on what else you have going on...as long as you let the school know ahead of time??? It seems like that might work too.

Quiet Dreams said...

This might be a crazy idea, but is there any way you could change the day that you volunteer at Connor's school to match the other volunteer day? That way, as you say, only one day is shot, rather than two.

Of course, that may not be possible at all, so don't mind me.

Mama Zen said...

I don't have anything helpful to add other than to say go with the option that least makes your hair stand on end!