Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Starfish

I love my kids' school. It's the kind of place that reminds me of everything good about elementary school and it makes me want to stay. I spent last night cutting out pieces of paper with an inspirational saying and attaching starfish pins that I had hot glued earlier that day with the girls. My job is to get more parents to volunteer at the school, and I think it's an easy one.

As I attached the hundredth starfish, I thought about their old school. It had an entirely different philosophy, and assumed the worst about people. If you didn't log in the minimum amount of hours of volunteer time, your family was fined hundreds of dollars at the end of the year (this was a tuition-based school). Our children, and eventually us, had to hand in singed slips of paper from the priest attesting to the fact that we had, indeed, attended church. The consequences were a little more ambiguous with that. Hell, maybe? Anyway, it pissed us off to the point that even when we did go to the school-connected church, we never turned in the signed slips. What were we? Children? Is this how you motivate people?

Happily, we're at a different church and school, and the funny thing is, we're motivated to give even more of our time, even more of ourselves.

People don't like to be forced to do things, do they?

Strolling along the edge of the sea, a man catches sight of a young girl who appears to be engaged in some kind of an artistic dance. She stoops down, then slowly straightens to her full height, and casts her arm outward in a graceful arc.
Drawing closer, however, he sees that the beach around her is littered with little starfish and that she is throwing them gently one by one back into the sea.
He laughs light-heartedly: “There are starfish stranded on the sands as far as the eye can see, for miles up the beach. What difference does it make to save just a few?”
Smiling, she bends down and tosses another starfish out over the water saying serenely,
“It makes a difference to that one.”

13 comments:

Mary Alice said...

So true and so beautiful.

BOSSY said...

Forced to do something? Bossy? Hellza no.

painted maypole said...

I hate the bullying to get help, to do things, to get involved. The Parent Teacher League plea at MQ's school's parent orientation was "we desperately need more volunteers" It was terrible. No one explained what they do, why they are valuable, what our time would accomplish. Just "we desperately need more volunteers." Ack! i"m the kind of person who will gladly help, gladly sign up, but please ask cheerfully. Explain the upside, the benefits, the reason. Then allow me volunteer joyfully, not guiltily.

Glad you are liking the school and church. Makes such a big difference!

my minivan is faster than yours said...

I can tell you with 100% certainty we would've made the same decision to leave as you did.

Good for you for taking the time and energy to volunteer so much at the new school :)

Mandy said...

Wow! How wonderful that you guys have made some positive changes! I know the kids are probably happier, too. Thanks for posting the starfish story...I love that!

Nancy said...

I posted the Starfish 7/11 and I love the warm fuzzy feel good it leaves us.

So cool you made Starfish pins!

Kristi B. said...

You are awesome for making all of those starfish pins!
I love our school too!

Mr. Fabulous said...

That's true. I think if are forced to do something then the natural reaction is to rebel.

theghelertertwins.blogspot.com said...

Applauding you! Yea. I hate that feeling of being "guilted" into anything. I do because I WANT too. Not because I was forced. I hate that. Did I say that already?! Nobody puts "baby" in a corner! Lol.

crazymumma said...

Lucky starfish....

Jennifer said...

Signed slips saying you went to church?? Yikes! I wouldn't have lasted long.

At my son's school, the motto is "Be a peacemaker" and, somehow, that message is a current running through the school. It is a peaceful, happy, hopeful place and they are never short on volunteers. You can catch more bees with honey...

Each and every time I read that starfish story, my heart is filled with hope. Thank you for reminding me of it today.

headless chicken said...

So, new to this whole school aged child thing... How do I volunteer with the small ones to deal with? My son's school has "take home projects" and I offered to be a Wed. lunch monitor, but I think that's about all I can do. Any thoughts?

Queeny said...

I volunteer as much as I can (which ain't much compared to the likes of you -- said with a smile). And while I agree that parents shouldn't be FORCED to participate, I think it should be mandatory for each parent of every school child to chaperon at least one field trip or participate in at least one school activity for their children. It's the very least they can do. But fines for non-participation -- big NO NO!