Xykademiqz Drowns in Swimming

A few weeks ago I posted on my disorienting foray into the Twilight Zone world of high-school athletics at Eldest’s new school.

It’s all very macho. The swim team recently went on a dads-and-boys daylong canoeing trip; some dads went, but DH didn’t go. (By the way, it’s not even clear that the kid will make the team as they haven’t had the tryouts yet, but everyone who showed interest was supposed to partake in these bonding experiences.) There was canoeing and apparently eating tons of burgers/hot dogs, with a side of hazing of the freshmen. Nothing  too nefarious: older boys stole the freshmen’s canoes, tipped them out into the water, later filled canoes with sand or water or mud or something, but I found my gut tighten as I was listening to my kid tell me about the day. Apparently, this is all common manly bonding Scheisse, and if movies are anything like the real stuff, fraternity hazing is infinitely worse. Being the gentle, kind-hearted mom that I am, I found myself wanting to punch someone’s lights out. I think I am way too high-strung, protective, and just socially anxious to survive my kids going to high school. And I really hope none of my kids attempt to join any fraternities.

But the boys’ high school swim season doesn’t start until the winter. In the meantime, Eldest has been swimming at a local club.

Freakin’ swimming has taken over my family’s life.

During the first week of September, they still wanted to swim outside, starting at 4:15 daily. So DH or I had to leave work early, pick up Eldest after school at 3:40ish then drive him to the pool, then organize the pickup of other two and go get him again two hours later. There are older boys who drive, but for younger boys apparently there will always be a parent available to chauffeur — because we’re in the 1950’s and women don’t work.

After the first two weeks things got better. They swim in a different pool every day, but at least it’s in the evening.

Here’s the kicker: at every home meet, parent volunteering is mandatory. That’s alright, take all the time you need to let the giant italicized oxymoron sink in.

I don’t want to volunteer. I work all the time and the weekends are the only time I get to spend with my kids, my husband, my vacuum cleaner, and my washer and dryer. That’s when I do grocery shopping and cooking for much of the week. Our weekends are the time to do chores and relax a little so we’d have the energy for the week.

I know there are people (unfortunately, mostly women) who don’t work or who work part time, and who are able and willing to volunteer at these events. I am not one of them and I detest the fact that so much depends on women’s unpaid work. And I hate it even more that I am expected to put in such unpaid work myself.

I am already paying good money so my kid would swim. I am paying extra for the equipment, team apparel and each meet. I will pay more if they need me to, but I DO. NOT. WANT. TO VOLUNTEER because what I do NOT have is time.

I played a team sport in middle and high school, I don’t think my mom ever came to see me play and dad came occasionally. That suited me just fine because it was MY activity, not theirs. I don’t understand this need for incessant involvement in everything kids do. Mandating parental involvement is just maddening. So I asked if I can buy my way out of volunteering; if not, I guess we won’t be signing the kid up for home meets, or may have to switch clubs.

15 comments

  1. Why can’t there be a price for people who will volunteer and a price for those who won’t? Then the club could pay for extra staff if they need them. A colleague’s kid has an activity where there’s a requested (desired) amount of “donation” and there is a minimum required amount; the colleague pays the full amount and doesn’t feel obligated to put in time.

  2. That’s how the Catholic Church does it too. Either your organization is smaller or they have some sort of stupid everyone participates ideal. In any case, a college student could also drive your kid to practice.

  3. I just contacted the club and was told it’s unfair for people with money to try to buy out of working the meets. It’s funny because we are not what your would call people with money; however, we are so starved for free time that we offered to throw money at it, but they wouldn’t have any of it.

  4. This is why I was glad my older daughter chose cross country–low key, needed to get her to and from a few meets but not nearly as totally consuming as friends whose kids chose Swimming or soccer, as both came with strong pressure to add the club variety.

  5. “I just contacted the club and was told it’s unfair for people with money to try to buy out of working the meets.”

    And it is unfair *and* classist for them to demand volunteering from everyone. What about people who work in jobs that require them to be at work on weekends? Their kids don’t get to swim? Must be a team in an area with no families who area supported by service-industry jobs.

  6. Obviously you should take all your kids to the next volunteer opportunity. Especially the youngest. Preferably after having had a lot of sugar. And I bet that there’s some percent of parents that just passive-aggressively ignore the volunteer requirement by “being sick” or forgetting to show up or having other emergencies/commitments. (But seriously, hire a college kid. They don’t really care if the volunteer is someone’s mom or not, they just don’t want to deal with hiring someone themselves.)

  7. “(But seriously, hire a college kid. They don’t really care if the volunteer is someone’s mom or not, they just don’t want to deal with hiring someone themselves.)”

    The fine blogger at this site already takes enough criticism for how she interacts with grad students. Sending them to work at swim practice would not make her more popular in the blogosphere!

  8. I think nicoleandmaggie are suggesting hiring undergrads (not students i teach or advise), just like people do for e.g. babysitting. There are electronic bulletin boards at the uni where you can advertise part time employment for undergrads.

  9. Totally with you on that one. I cannot stand parental volunteering at sports games – I so do not have the time for that. But they’ll look at you like you are some kind of a monster for wanting to throw money at it and do something more useful with your time. Trust me, everyone is better off without my grouchy ass throwing murderous looks at cheerful moms putting me in charge of making sure that there is enough ice in the cooler. DH is entirely in charge of any sports activities in our family.

  10. Yes, undergrad. Regular chauffeur seems to be about 1/4 to 1/3 of the advertising under the childcare listing on our undergrad job boards. When my mom had to teach a 7am class she hired a college student to get me ready in the morning and take me to daycare or to morning care at school.

    Grad student doesn’t make any sense. I have to wonder how that would be the first thing that comes into a person’s mind.

  11. Because I was being silly. xykademiqz takes a lot of heat over matters related to grad students, so when somebody said “Hire a student” I decided to be silly and be all “Oh, great, now she’ll take even more heat!”

    Never mind.

  12. I totally agree with the “hire a college kid to do this BS” thing. You can even call the college kid a “cousin” or something if that makes everyone happier with it.

    I am sincerely hoping neither child wants to do sports seriously, because there are so many dynamics around serious kids’ sports that would make me launch into a rant, live and in person.

    Even at our elementary school, the amount of volunteering that is asked for is sort of ridiculous. Some of it is make work (do the classroom doors REALLY need to be decorated each month?) and some of it is real education stuff (when did we decide to outsource art education to a bunch of parents who sit through an hour of training?) and all of it makes me crazy. Luckily, they are more than happy to take our donation and never hassle us about volunteering.

  13. @olympiasepiriot: I personally would not have a problem with xyk having someone do this in her place. I also suspect that the reaction would have been different had she been a parent explaining that her job required her to work during those hours when she would have to volunteer. I HATE IT when middle class folks get all concerned about those poor “service industry” people only when it suits their own purposes. Do you think that those people can even afford the fees associated with these clubs in the first place? Where’s your outrage over that?

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