I am gleeful as I locate my volunteer card; Erin, Monday-Friday, Nursery. And no fat folder full of in-chargey things like attendance sheets and allergy notes attached to it. I'm free! I'm free! I just get to hang out with babies and toddlers all day, building lego towers and changing a few diapers, while some other woman runs things and handles the herculean task of dealing with 12 teenage girls who squeal for no reason, gossip non-stop about people you don't know, and look at you pityingly if you don't know who Iggy Azalea is. (I don't want them to look pityingly at you, Readers. Take the link. Memorize it. You'll look all hip and now.) Don't get me wrong, these girls are wonderful volunteers who know their way around some toddlers and make working in the nursery a full-on breeze compared to actually teaching 3rd graders about Moses. I love them, I just don't want to be in charge of them for a week.
And I'm not! I giggle to myself as the meeting starts. I merrily take the Moses quiz and get 8 out of 10 correct. (Who knows which tribe Moses was from? I'm not a theology scholar, people.) I can name all 10 plagues though, so those 12 years of Catholic school weren't a total waste, although I am pretty sure I learned all I know about Moses from the 10 Commandments every Easter. I listen to the rules about peanuts and where to find the first aid kit. I barely doddle during the tips of how to engage with children. I chat with the ladies at my table. I even stand up when "veterans of previous VBSs" are asked to. All is good. Until....
(There is always an until in my world.....)
Until the VBS coordinator says "Would all the nursery volunteers come up here afterward, please?" Hmmm...that's odd. I was hoping to dash out early and hit the library before going home to the bedtime/zoo hour. Well, I am sure it is nothing. I bid farewell to my table-mates and head on up to the front. All 12 teenage volunteers are huddled near the front. Oh, looks like we have 1 boy this year; neat. It will be nice to have someone my height around. I stand next to him and the two of us stare into the middle backs of the Amazons that ring the VBS coordinator. I can sort see her; she comes into focus between shoulder blades as the girls giggle and lean into whispers. The coordinator's face shifts from delighted to confused to slightly panicked over the coarse of a few seconds, until she finally says, "Aren't any of you adults?"
I pause maybe 2 seconds before raising my hand. (It's a long two seconds and I contemplate running out the door for most of it.) She doesn't see me, so I have to wave my hand around and announce "I'm an adult!" like I am trying to get picked on the Price is Right. The teenagers part as momentously as the Red Sea and I am face to face with our VBS coordinator and my fate.
"Oh, Erin! Didn't see you back there. Well, I am glad you are here. The other adult volunteers didn't seem to show up. I don't suppose you would mind running the nursery again."
"Oh no, not at all. I wouldn't mind at all. Delighted to do it."
"Great! Here's the folder! See you on Monday!"
The teenagers close in with questions about confirmation hours, how many babies there will be this year, what's the dress-code, are phones allowed. I let the noise rush over my head, and, for a moment, I feel just as desperate as Pharaoh's drowning army. Until.....
Until I remind myself that I tangle with Perfect Mom daily. I don't seem to need sleep anymore. I have birthed four children. I don't have radioactive blood; I can change a diaper while the child is still buckled in her carseat and my husband is driving 70 down the highway. What's radioactive blood when you can do that? I am amazing. I am strong. I am flexible. I am Awkward Mom and I am a gosh-darn superhero.
So bring it on, VBS. I can handle your gossip teenagers and stranger-danger toddlers. Your really ugly yellow shirt. Making small talk at the picnic. Your weird summer school smells and subsisting on graham crackers and juice boxes all week. Your Christian rock music CD on a loop. Trying not to laugh at the 15-year-old with the Santa beard pretending to be Moses. The crafts. The holy coloring books. The hundreds of children. Trying not to look bored when my fellow volunteers want to talk about bible verses. I have got this. I've got this. I have so totally got this.
She totally does not have this, Readers. Pray for her. Pray super hard.