Library Diva's Guide to Volunteering…

{December 29, 2010}   helicopter parents

I never really heard this term until a couple of years ago but since I’ve heard it, I’ve experienced the Helicopter Parent at least 2-3 times a week in regards to their children volunteering.

I possibly had one today, but this dad was leaning more on the side of caring and concerned father then the actual hover-er that I have seen in the past.

Helicopter Parents come out of the woodwork when their kids need something. You’ll usually see them when their kids go to college, hovering around the dorms, hovering around the tail gate parties, the frat parties, gosh…I guess mostly around the parties when you think about it.

Then there are those Helicopter Parents who hover around their kids academics, science fair projects, and volunteer and community service hours.

That’s where I step in, the Helicopter Parent can practically do everything else, BUT their kids volunteer service, but they’ll do everything they can up until their child comes in to volunteer and that includes calling to inquire, fill out the application and set the schedule.

…and this is where I get them every time…”If your child needs the service and the hours, how come you are calling me?” The Helicopter Parent doesn’t like that question. They go into tailspin, nose dive and some actually burst into flames.

The H.P’s get very defensive on that question. But I stick to my guns and pull out the old lecture of “give a man a fish, fish for the day; teach a man to fish, fish for a lifetime” but they don’t care.

The sad thing is when I do finally meet the H.C. (hovered over child), the parents have already ruined my first impression of them. If they have a service requirement, that’s one thing, but if the parent is forcing them, it just makes for a really really bad scene. I really try to meet one on one with these kids to make sure they want to volunteer and will enjoy it, but since I’m dealing with Helicopter Parents, they hover during the interview, the orientation and the training.

The library does not budget for Helicopter Parent Flak Jackets so it’s just by sheer grit and determination that I make it through.  They are a very interesting and entertaining bunch and I’m sure there will be more stories to come.


My office mate who teaches our ESL and Community Education classes had to leave the office and cross 2 times zones because of a family death.  She had already had a graduation/holiday party planned for the members of her classes. Our supervisor and I gladly stepped in to lay the party out, pass out the certificates and chat up with the guests and of course,  eat pizza.

We didn’t really expect a big turn out, mostly because my office mate is the star of the show. Truly loved by the 40 languages of students that she represents, she’s an excellent instructor and all around good person. As her students began to roll in, you can immediately sense disappointment in having Sonya not there.

After a few pleasantries, conversation was already beginning to become a little stale. In any language, you can  never go wrong when you bring up the topic of food. That rejuvenated all discussion. We sipped on rice punch from Korea, nibbled Mexican macaroons, ate pizza (onions and cheese?), and had good ole American Mesquite BBQ chips.

One of the students brought her two small children. As we were discussing the politics of Putin in Russia on our end of the table with a student from the Ukraine,  we heard the words Capris Sun Juice Boxes at the other end. A hush fell upon the guests. Suddenly, discussions began to flare up, words and sentences mixed in English and the native tongues were a buzz with the words “straws”, “wrappers”, “all over the house”, and  “boxes and boxes of Capris Sun”.

It was if we were holding the first ever ” Capris Sun Summit” right there in the library center meeting room. With the passion that these moms of the nations had over Capris Sun Juice Boxes and Pouches, imagine what could be accomplished across the world?!

et cetera
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