I should have written this on Monday night, when I was full of my righteous anger. It probably would have been much funnier, because I'm pretty funny (if I dare say so myself) when I get royally irritated. And truly, please keep in mind that I'm not trying to whine that I have it so hard or that my life is so difficult, this is just stuff that pisses me off. And I started off naming activity names, and then decided I'd better not because really it isn't about the specific group - just group activities in general.
So here is the fundamental question: when did children's events require so much parental investment? I did not sign my children up for [certain group activity] this year because _I_ wanted to be a [member of that certain group activity]. Besides jockeying each daughter to a different location for their troop meeting, originally scheduled to be on alternate weeks, but which has since become the same night on the same week (don't get me started on that - well, yet anyway, I might get there myself), but add to it the requirement for one troop that I "co-lead" on certain weeks, that my daughter have a certain required clothing item which will have to be replaced every year or two, that I have iron-on patches to apply to said clothing item (with new ones given weekly) (which incidentally do not "iron-on" but instead require a certain type of glue and about 30 minutes of steps to make the damn things stick), rah-rah meetings on [certain food item] sales - and then the sales themselves (because I don't know who would allow their elementary age kid to go out soliciting sales in this world, but I won't), encouraged events like "lock ins" where parents go with their kids (some mothers were cooing about how fun this sounds at the last meeting and they want _us_ to all go as a troop!). PEOPLE, I DO NOT WANT TO BE A [MEMEBER OF CERTAIN GROUP ACTIVITY]! I might feel differently if troop meetings were more like the night we spent caroling at the local nursing home, perhaps we should fill the food bags that different groups send to poor countries, or serve at a soup kitchen, or volunteer time at the local food shelf. I think I would be all over that, willing to haul kids and make time and help out if we are actually DOING something. But this crap that is all about an hour goofing off at the someone's home a couple times a month, wearing our *required* clothing item with the *&&^%% patches, while our parents figure out how to sell the everlovin' [certain food item]? Not interested folks. I am not certain I will do anything for [certain food item] sales and hopefully we'll all get kicked out. Did you know the kids get only $0.50 for every box? That means $6 or $7 goes to the [certain group activity national office], which national office provides no money to the individual troops for events or expenses, or patches - that all comes from our dues. What a freakin' racket.
I also did not intend this as a slam on [certain group activity] ... I don't care what they do with their money and I'm sure some good things happen, and certainly some parents are really really into it. But it is a machine. I felt the same way when my eldest wanted to join dance. Pretty significant monthly fee for my 4 year old, plus practice clothes, plus a fancy program costume once a year (hat, leotard, skirt, plus the "right" tights, socks and shoes), plus admission to the dance shows, plus having to take a freakin' class on how to style my kids hair for said show, plus plus plus. It also was a huge impersonal machine and I grated against it every week. I never said a word negative to her though, if she enjoyed that physical activity, I would have continued on, with my teeth gritted. But as it turned out, she didn't enjoy it. Many of the girls, already at age 4, were mean to each other and my daughter did not like that at all.
I get that one of my jobs as a parent is to help with homework, to chase kids to activities, to "encourage" their participation when they just want to stay home and watch TV/play outside/whatever. But when it is already a struggle to keep up the schedule, and to get our kids to certain activities when they are young enough to not understand why they have to stop what they are doing NOW because it is time for this other activity - why do these "machine" facilities think that parents should also be required to participate? Am I wrong to think that some of these things - particularly when we are paying quite a bit of money for the honor of having our kids participate - should be more of the "drop off and then wait to pick up" variety?
I believe in extracurricular activities, and have some of my own, but just because I'm willing to let my kids take part in certain groups does not mean that I want to take an active role myself.