As an unschooling mom, it’s my job to facilitate my children’s learning. So, in order to meet the needs of my children and their interests, I tend to set up a lot of field trips, activities, co-ops, etc. in order for them to do the things they want. I’m a planner. It works out.
Years ago, another mother and I would plan and organize a lot of activities for a group we were in. There is always someone who wants to grumble and complain, and these activities were no exception. Most of the activities were on our side of the metro area because that’s we were were. There were a lot of activities for homeschoolers, again because that’s what we do. There were so many complaints, that we stopped posting about the activities to the group. The complaints then turned to the fact that there weren’t many activities posted any more. But, again, there is always someone who grumbles, and if they really wanted to do something about their complaints, they could have stepped up and taken some initiative themselves.
However, this week, the grumble from another parent hit a new low. I had planned a Hunger Games activity for next month, and we needed a few more kids participating in order to make it happen. So, I posted about it on a couple of metro wide homeschooling lists to see if anyone else would be interested in joining us. I posted the pertinent information: location, time, a description of the activity, my contact info., what age group it was geared toward (written very inclusively so that families could make their own decision regarding if it was appropriate for their family), and as an FYI at the end of my e-mail, I mentioned that the park where the event would take place did not have a bathroom and that the nearest bathroom was down the road at a nearby QuikTrip. I wanted to let parents know in case that was an issue for them. I’m all about informed choices.
The next day I opened my e-mail to see a message from another parent regarding the Hunger Games activity. I clicked on the message, excited that another family was interested in joining our group. Instead, I was shocked at the message. The father had e-mailed me to explain how a park without a restroom was a horrible location for an activity and that his daughters, at which point he named their names, would not be attending. He then went on to inform me that their family had no interest in the Hunger Games.
Now, we are an equal opportunity family of unschoolers. We don’t hold ourselves to one group. We interact with many groups of homeschoolers and unschoolers so that we can participate in activities and events which may be of interest to us. In doing so, we see many, many activities which aren’t a good fit for our family or which don’t interest us. It would never occur to me to write the coordinators of those events and explain what I thought was limiting or that we had no interest in their topics. It doesn’t have anything to do with us and owuld serve no purpose.
So, I was at a loss at what the point of this man’s e-mail was. I wrote him back to say just that. I first stated that because I don’t know him or his family (seriously, I have no clue who they are or that they even existed prior to his e-mail), I could not accurately read tone. Not knowing his family, I would have no reason to assume that they would attend an event I was hosting. I also went on to explain why we chose this event – my children enjoy the Hunger Games books. I explained why we chose this particular park – it is a park our family enjoys and it had the space we needed for the activity. I stated that I only mentioned the fact that it has no bathroom in case that would be a deciding factor for a family, so that they could make an informed choice. As a 1-2 hour activity at a park with no bathroom is not an issue for many families with children in the age range, and many families who also have younger children, such as our own, often carry a potty in their vehicle in case of emergencies, we had decided that this location still best fit our needs.
Then, a day later, he wrote again. Apparently he found my comment about the lack of restroom needs for many families in that time period to be “very insulting.” Insulting would have been me telling this man he needed to loosen up his butt plug (and yes, I shock myself and my delicate sensibilities with that comment). From his next comments, I assume he had a miscommunication with his wife who had forwarded the e-mail to him to see about taking their daughters, and he, in his anger (an anger which caused drastic spelling errors in both e-mails), made the assumption that she had signed their daughters up for this unthinkably restroom free event concerning a topic that didn’t even interest them. He continued on to say he was glad that his daughters wouldn’t be attending such a horrible event led by such a horrible person, and that he would not be writing again (much to my gratitude). I still wonder at his apparent anger that led him to write such things in the first place.
The thing is that I, and many other parents like myself who plan activities and field trips for their children, don’t do it for other people. Certainly, we are happy that others who desire can participate and enjoy the events. However the reason we set up these events is for our children! I set up field trips in order to receive group discounts so that we can afford to take our children to these places. I set up activities that they want to do. I ask people to talk about topics that my children want to learn more about. The common theme in all of these things is that I do it for my kids.
So, if you see an activity that you aren’t interested in attending, it’s no big deal. I (or the parent in charge) don’t even need to hear that you don’t want to participate. It’s none of my business. It doesn’t have anything to do with me. If you do want to participate, great. Just don’t expect me to bend over backwards to accomodate you, because I’m not doing it for your sole benefit. If you sign up for a field trip that has to be paid for in advance and then don’t bother to show up, I’m not going to refund your money; I still had to pay for you. If you don’t send payment in on time, I’m dropping you from the field trip because I can’t afford to pay for you (notice the above statement about group discounts). At the end of the day, I’m not getting paid for doing any of this. I’m not doing it for you. I’m just another mom, doing what is right for my kids. So, give me a break.
Wow….I am not even sure what to say to that. I love it when other parents set up activities (because it gives me a break from doing it). I think his reaction was completely out of line. If I thought my husband signed us up for something that didn’t fit our family I would let them know we would not attend and APOLOGIZE for the inconvience to the planner…not try and make them feel badly about planning an activity that they had been kind enough to share with my family!
I want to thank everyone for the comments and e-mails. I wrote this post with just a wee bit of anger. I was hurt that someone would write such e-mails when all I was trying to do was set up a FUN event for kids (specifically my own with friends) who enjoy The Hunger Games. Honestly, I should never have replied to his original e-mail. I should have just written him off as some person who was obviously having some type of issue outside of this activity. I engaged and was bitten. It’s a good reminder to me that one should not try to have rational discussions with hurt rattle snakes or people, as the case may be.
Negative people can so easily infect the rest of us. I feel sorry for that man’s family 😦