AS A PERSON who secretly wants an easy life I often wonder how I came to be chairman of the school PTA.
Or, I should say, WHY I agreed to do it. I know HOW it happened. I was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Since that fateful evening when I turned up for a meeting and walked away an hour later as the Head Honcho (I think I will have to adopt this title as it gets away from the chairman/chairwoman/chair problem) I have encountered quite a lot of stress. But also, I keep reminding myself, a lot of fun.
If I really wanted an easy life, you might say, then why don’t I simply resign and spend my evenings relaxing in front of the telly with a packet of kettle crisps and a bottle of Stella?
The thing is, I’ve always felt that if I belonged to an organisation I may as well really belong, which makes it difficult to have a life devoid of cares.
I’m no good at sitting quietly in the corner while decisions are made. It is this characteristic that led me to become the clerk of the Examiner’s National Union of Journalists chapel many moons ago and, before that, a committee member of Huddersfield’s dedicated little CND group.
In my youth I was a busybody on my secondary school’s student council.
Even after the arrival of the Offspring, with all the fatigue that entailed, I just couldn’t stop myself from interfering in the activities of the National Childbirth Trust.
In more recent times, however, I thought I’d got myself under control. I was looking forward to the long-awaited easy life.
But I’m a joiner at heart. I belong to the sub-group of homo sapiens who like to feel part of the community, to be involved. We go around saying things like: “I want to put something back.”
So we sell raffle tickets, organise ceilidhs and summer fairs. And mostly we do it without complaint.
However, just occasionally, as I’m sweeping the school hall after an event, I wonder how it is that so many others feel able to wander off home, leaving behind their empty glasses, chairs and beer bottles for someone else to deal with. I suspect they never give it a thought because so much voluntary work is taken entirely for granted.
The school PTA, to which I belong, has a membership of 900 families, give or take a few, because everyone is automatically a member when their child joins the school. However, our monthly meetings are attended by only a hardcore of willing activists – about 20 in number.
It doesn’t take a genius to work out that most of the other 800-plus parents play little or no part in our/their organisation. Although, as I said to the Man in Charge the other night, it would be a bit traumatic if they all turned out for the AGM, especially as we use a 30-seater classroom. And, to be fair, some of them are involved in other ways.
Our little group, like other PTAs up and down the country, does its best to support the work of our school.
But from time to time we do wish that some of the ‘sleeping partners’ would come forward and help to take the strain.
Occasionally we launch a recruitment drive, and at this time every year I stand in front of the New Parents to ask for their support. New Parents are of great interest to PTAs because among them, we hope, will be new blood for our organisation. A future Head Honcho, perhaps?
As this is my last year in office, I certainly hope so, as the easy life beckons at last. Whether I’ll actually want it when I’ve got it, however, remains to be seen.