Up to Rockstar's class and play areas I go, for my next volunteer slot… 2 or 3 of his classmates look at me and go, “Oh. Where’s Rockstar?”, then go looking about, including in the boys’ toilets, before coming back and announcing they don’t know where he is. (Which I thought was so nice and helpful, I’m surprised they did that. And then Rockstar appears later, turns out he went to change out of wet clothes.)
I’m assigned the jigsaw puzzle station (which is either a stroke of luck or serious perceptiveness on the part of the school since Rockstar is jigsaw-crazy and came home talking about a “new butterfly jigsaw” a day or two ago - which means he'd probably been hanging around there quite a bit, and sure enough I see a butterfly jigsaw on the table).
And - maybe it’s my imagination, but some of the kids seem to be talking a lot more to me than the last time… Surely they can’t remember me, I only did this school playtime gig once before, umpteen weeks ago? Maybe it’s the jigsaw station… A little boy I don’t recognize puts his arms around me a few times as he talks. Must’ve not got the memo about personal space… (that’s a joke lar…)
“I need a chair.” Sure, have mine.
“I want to play too!” Great, let’s all do that together.
“---‘s not sharing.” Uh, she’ll have to put the pieces on the table and share them or she won’t be able to finish the jigsaw herself anyway (a moment later she puts it down). See? The team with more people working together totally got there first!
“I want to try that one!” Good choice, there you go.
“I win!” You guys are brilliant! I didn’t even know how to fit some of those pieces. (Uh, I really didn’t.)
Yay! Great! Good job! EXcellent! More Bubbly Encouraging Stuff!
“Rockstar took my seat.”
Crap. Now what? Oops. I didn’t say that out loud, did I? Phew, no. Like, 3 or 4 of them are now looking at me. Little, expectant hamster faces waiting for my reaction. Wait, hang on – one of those hamsters is mine.
Did he really? His classmate got up off that chair to get something. Rockstar kinda moved in thinking the space was free. I was a little worried about Rockstar asking to be carried or getting into a fight about toys and me being put in a spot – so before school I told Rockstar that if it looked like his behavior worsened with me around, I might get assigned to a different floor, so he had to watch his behavior. We shook on it.
“Hang on…. What’s that? Whoa that’s a tough one! We totally need help over here. Rockstar, do you have a minute?” Rockstar says “Sure.”
PPHEEEEW. “You’re back. Again.” A little girl comes over. The zipper on her outer cardigan is stuck and it takes a good few minutes to fix it. She looks me straight in the eye and says quietly, “My mum never comes.”
I’m completely unprepared. Her mum must be swamped – little girl mentioned she had an older sibling last time I saw her. By the time I can stutter, “I used to work and I bet I was away a lot more than your mum, so technically I’m just making up for it now,” I’m not sure how much she caught, before it got swallowed up by more Jigsaw Conversation. Damn. If I ever get another chance I better respond faster.
After school, Rockstar wants to visit his favorite fountain. Kings has a few minutes before his next meeting so he watches for the first time and in horror as his only child runs screaming in delight round and round inside a giant fountain and comes out sopping wet (which is why he’s in the school water resistant windbreaker even though it’s not a wet day).
Both Rockstar and I get an earful from the fussier parent in the family. Haha too late, we’ve been doing this for ages now. Rockstar, dripping wet, stands there and demands his dad – who is in full work gear – carry him for a bit. Hah! Brilliant! why didn’t I think of that?
Rockstar didn’t really stick to me all the time in school, in fact I think some of his classmates spent longer at the jigsaw station than he did. At one point he says he's bored and wanders off to try something else, "Why are you staying at the jigsaws?" Because that was the responsibility mummy was given. "Oh," he nods sagely. (Having responsibilities are currently important. Hope it lasts). But later he says he enjoyed us both being at school – and - get this, I got spontaneous I love yous! Yippee. Score.
Thank God I stopped working like a nut before Rockstar was older and I totally missed this chance... If unfortunately you still have to work long hours, hopefully your child’s school has something like ESF’s volunteer program. It’s popular, at most you’ll probably get allocated twice a month, I bet you could even just ask for a slot a month. Best bit if you’re working is it’s very easily kept to a one hour commitment (no running over time etc) because before and after that one hour is serious learning/ circle time - you have to “officially” not be there for longer anyway – Rockstar never expects me to linger, in fact he dismissed me on my first run 5 minutes early because he was "busy".
One slot = an hour a month. Like a regular doctor’s appointment or some other errand you have to step out of the office for. But with benefits.
Totally worth it and then some, for all the lurve I’m getting from Rockstar <bliss>