This blog is late today. It’s late because I spent my morning scribing for a little boy in grade three. It’s EQAO week at my son’s school. The Education Quality and Accountability Office is responsible for the standardised testing all grade 3’s and 6’s are required to do in Ontario.

I’ll try to stay clear of ranting today; I think you can all guess where my opinion falls on the scale between, ‘This is a necessary evil’ and ‘This is a conspiracy relating to world domination by the Illuminati’. Working through these tests with a very little boy who can barely read or write (not unlike my own children) is horrible. Watching him panic because he is faced with page after page of questions he can’t answer, made me want to vomit. What we do to our children in the name of ‘accountability’ is disgusting.

I will be back at the school tomorrow, helping/not helping that same little boy— I will bring treats and stickers and kind words (lots of them) because, hell, I don’t kowtow to Illuminati-types.

Volunteering is a Canadian right of passage. You’ll see it at every level of society, amongst all age groups. High school students are required to complete a specific number of hours before they can graduate. Policemen are required to volunteer before they are hired. Retirees work (for free!) at hospitals and schools and any ol’ place they can. The list of required community participation is huge. And Canadians do it. All the volunteers, so intrinsically Canadian, volunteering sans complaint.

I’ll be honest for a minute, I’m flummoxed by the eagerness of Canadian volunteers. Everyone does it!! Shitty work for no pay?! Look, I volunteer often. But it is always related to my kids, or my husband or something that has a direct benefit for my family. And even in those circumstances, there are limits to what I’ll do: I’ll sell food at a bake sale, but I’m sure as hell am not baking. I’ll do reading programs at the school, but I won’t do pizza day every week. And ABSOLUTELY NO to any fundraising. I know, I’m a horrible person, so very un-Canadian.

I wonder if you need a particular personality trait in order to be one of those parents or members of society? You know the types right? They’re the mums who organise the school dances, and teacher appreciation lunches and save the school banner events. And then there are the coaches who spend hours and hours each week coaching little league for absolutely zero remuneration, and no chance of glory. What’s with those guys? Whatever that gene mutation is, I do not have it.

After spending three and a half hours at the school this morning, I got caught (trapped, cornered) by, Jude’s teacher just as I was walking out the door.

“Natalie, I’ve been meaning to ask you to come in and do some reading with the kids one afternoon each week.”

“Oh really! Jude would love that. Every week?”

“Yeah, or however many days you can squeeze us in.” She proceeds to take out her notepad and ‘pencil me in’.

What? Oh man. You give them an inch…, Canadians.

I know this blog will cast me in a negative light. But I thought before I wrote it. I thought I can’t be the only person who dislikes volunteering? There must be other non-joiners in this country? Surely?

Donating blood, running 5k’s for charity, handing out water bottles at the county fair. It’s the expected participation that comes hand in hand with your Canadian citizenship card. If you don’t like it, well, sorry for you.

I anticipate being voluntold for years to come. Perhaps by the time I get to be an octogenarian, I’ll be a fully integrated Canadian— you’ll see me slowly walking around the hospitals giving people directions, or I’ll be knitting tiny hats for the newborns in the maternity ward. Perhaps. Probably not, but we’ll see…

3 thoughts on “Volunteering

  1. SO . . . . been there done that. Volunteered to walk for cancer. Then I realized how MUCH money chemo makes . . . how little difference walking makes in the big picture. NOT EVER doing that again.
    Is it really just a Canadian thing? Don’t people volunteer everywhere?


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