I play with small children Thursday afternoons* and have learned that i like small children in very small doses. I've been doing this nearly every week since about December of 2001, and it's something i do not because i love children but because i've made a commitment and i'm a responsible person who insists on honoring her commitments. I never leave Group hating the children, but especially recently it's become something i dread going to.
So, i met with Jaynie this morning because i'm leaving tomorrow and she wanted to give me something and get to talk to me before i left. She said my help has been a real blessing and called me an angel. I don't come every week (though bloody hell it's damn close) but she said that even when we haven't been in touch for a while i seem to show up on days when they really need me. She called me an angel. ("she was an angel / she looked like an angel / and all of the angels did sing / and the angels were watching / and the angels were listening / and the angels were on hand to stand in for everything")
So anyway, we talked about some of the difficulties of Group and she suggested one-on-one stuff, like even when the kids are in a group, having one adult sort of in charge of each child, so that if a kid needs to be dealt with there isn't that scrambling "okay, who's available to deal with that one" and i think that's a wonderful idea. Last night i was walking around with Rasaun (who just turned 2) on my back for a while and i said that was my kinda thing, and i meant the quiet, low-energy, but she took it to mean the one-on-one, which is also true. She said there's no pressue for me to come back in the fall (which i really really appreciated hearing) but that she would really like me to be in touch whatever i decide. She put out the option of coming bi-weekly or maybe even only once a month, and the bi-weekly thing sounded really appealing, because i definitely feel somewhat burnt-out, and i don't think there would be such a feeling of dread if i weren't doing this every week. She also suggested mentoring or tutoring, and i mentioned that i really prefer older kids whom i can do quiet activities with and have actual conversations and stuff with and she said they really wanna utilize our (the volunteers') strengths and also cater to our needs so that they can best match kids and volunteers. That was something of a revelation. It makes sense of course, but i had been thinking of this as a gig where you show up and just fill what the needs are, not that you get to dictate what works for you.
*Childcare volunteers needed, Thursdays 4:15-6:30 at the YWCA, 6 Myrtle Street (corner of King) Northampton, for toddlers in an onsite childcare room for a young mother’s support group an for children in our Transitional Living Program. For more information please call Jaynie at 586-6807.
One of my hallmates is blasting "I'm a Survivor."