Blog | A parent’s perspective part two: getting the family involved
I think I may have mentioned in my last blog post that I’m pretty useless at the volunteering thing. That remains the case…
Adults can actually be rubbish
However, I do think being a parent volunteer presents its own challenges. I once chaperoned my eldest daughter’s infant school field trip, and when we returned to the classroom to fill out worksheets, one of the pupils asked me how to spell her own surname. It genuinely dumbfounded me. Had a more resourceful, think-on-your-feet type of mum been sitting in my place, she probably would have kindly referred the little girl to the nametag on her jumper. Or the coloured label above her coat peg. Not me though: ‘Umm... hm. Not sure about that one.’ The girl stared back at me, and I could see that she had just had an epiphany: adults can actually be rubbish in some situations.
So who knows how useful I’ll be tonight, when we go out selling programmes for the little one’s Scout Group Christmas fair? After her first few taster sessions, my youngest realised that Beavers – and now Cubs – is pretty fun and something she’d really like to do on a regular basis. She had her investiture on the night they had their fancy dress Halloween party. Have you ever seen a miniature witch do the three-finger salute whilst reciting the Cub Scout promise? I can tell you it is a special and surreal experience.
One of the first activities she got stuck into was DIY, making a bird table. My daughter’s dad and I are separated, so I called him up with the prospect of him participating. Off they went to that night’s meeting together. Even though Dad’s thumb nearly came a cropper with the junior hacksaw, I think he really got something out of sitting alongside and watching her project take shape. And you know what? There was some nice workmanship there. The bird table is now hanging outside Dad’s house.
In fact, it’s been a family packed programme ever since. We had a cracking fireworks night hosted by one of the other Groups in the District. I don’t know how they pulled it off, but it really was spectacular. Even my eldest daughter, 13 years old, shuffling about in DMs, dogtooth jacket and an initial expression of mild boredom couldn’t fail to be impressed. This was topped off by the fact that one of our numbers was drawn out of the raffle, and my youngest got to go up and pick her prize. There was only one choice for her. Not the Airfix model, nor the trendy headphones – but a crinkly looking bag of fun-sized Mars bars. Well she does have an undying love of chocolate, just like her mum.
Sense of involvement
Then there was Remembrance Day. All the Scout Groups, Brownies, Guides and cadets came out to parade down the high street. And we were all there to watch our children – grandparents, parents, stepparents, siblings. We all stood on the sidelines while the Cubs pointed family members out to each other, ‘That’s my mum.’ ‘That’s my brother.’ Once we had all been correctly identified they got back to playing while they waited for the parade to begin.
There is a huge sense of involvement in Scouting. It’s like an extended family that actually makes taking part feel kind of effortless – whatever level of involvement you are able to have.
So I’m actually happy to get stuck in tonight. Cubs has done so much for my daughter, but really it has done a lot for us all. We’ve had some lovely family time in the process. My partner, being a carpenter, has even made a few hints that he wouldn’t mind lending his skills to the Group. Maybe one day I could help do a storytelling workshop or a book club. But first thing’s first – let’s see how we go with programme sales a on a cold winter’s night. Once more unto the breach...