I am no stranger to inadequacy, nor am I afraid to own my own stuff. Iâ€™ve written, for instance, about a couple of inadequacies illuminated by Ms. Martha of the Stewart Clan. Since I opened that door long ago, letâ€™s delve into todayâ€™s installment of Christineâ€™s Inadequacies.
Last year was the year of Cub Scouts for us, the year of learning how to use tools without appendage loss, the year of Pinewood Derbies, and the year of numerous camping trips that we did not attend. In a cruel twist of fate, all trips fell on dates when either we were out of town, LCB was out of town (You seriously think I could pitch a tent without serious micromanagement on LCBâ€™s part?), or we had conflicting commitments, leading the boys to suspect a bait-and-switch (â€œThink of all the camping fun youâ€™ll have if you join Boy Scouts this year, boys!â€). Yes, we do what we can to disappoint and mislead.
Iâ€™ll be honest here: My first thought when the boys, after some deliberation, decided not to join Scouts this year, was, â€œPraise God from whom all blessings flow, I donâ€™t have to spend a Saturday afternoon sitting in front of the grocery store encouraging my boys to accost complete strangers about buying popcorn.â€ Plenty of other parents, i.e., the good ones, used the experience as an opportunity to teach their boys good salesmanship skills. I used it to sit and look tragic.
Anyhow, Baby-girl also began a scouting program and decided to stay the course. So a couple of weeks ago, I went to the opening meeting, the one where you sign a gazillion forms, like the ones that promise you wonâ€™t sue if your daughterâ€™s an idiot and tries to jump off a horse mid-ride. One of the forms was a volunteer form for parents to indicate ways that they can contribute to the organization, based on their talents.
Yâ€™all, I had myself a little epiphany right there in that meeting. I never knew how much I donâ€™t know until I looked at that form.
Iâ€™m not even kidding. Take a look at it.Â Â
Yâ€™all, Iâ€™m so thankful they asked about certifications, because without my CPR certification, Iâ€™d basically have nothing to offer the organization other than my ability to fill out forms.Â
Youâ€™ll see I checked â€œSocial Events Coordinatorâ€ and then unchecked it. I was reading quickly, and only realized it said â€œCoordinatorâ€ as I was checking it. Clearly, the coordinator title means youâ€™re in charge of making sure social events are successful, rather than just baking some cookies or hanging some balloons. I panicked, naturally, and realized I was faced with two choices: I could either look like an idiot and cross out the checkmark, or resign myself to coordinating a yearâ€™s worth of social events. I crossed out my checkmark.
As I read further, I began to realize that there was not much that I could â€œlend expertise or knowledgeâ€ to: my version of elaborate cake decorating involves sprinkles and plastic characters wedged on top, my puppetry career was lackluster, and seriously, what exactly qualifies one as a personal hygiene expert? (â€œGirls, I recommend using soap over not using soap.â€)
And really, me teaching things like archery, canoeing, golf, horsemanship, snowboarding, zoology, space exploration, home repair, and sewing would just be a giant safety no-no.
Many categories left me confused. What exactly is a memory maker, or textile art, or needle art, or a kitchen scientist? Are these actually real jobs or things that real people do?
Last year, actually, I had a similar experience sitting down with the Cub Scout books. For one brief shining moment early on, I thought I could teach one of the lessons since I am, after all, an educator.
Turns out, however, you do need to know at least something about your content, and as I flipped through the pages of those manuals, I was faced with a hard truth: I knew nothing about almost everything in the manuals.
Could I really teach a lesson on how to sculpt a head, or leatherworking, or making traditional American Indian clothing? Seriously, one chapter is called â€œGrow Something.â€
It all reminds me of a dream I once had. In it, the school I was teaching at was in a pinch, so they asked me to teach one math class. At first I balked, but then I thought, â€œHey, I did win several math competitions in elementary school and middle school (really true, but a phenomenon that didnâ€™t extend beyond seventh grade), so maybe I can do this.â€ So I show up for the first day of class, and my lesson goes something like this:
â€œOkay kids, so you have numbers.â€
I really said it just like that, and for clarification purposes, I wrote some examples on the board.
I continued. â€œYou have addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.â€
Clearly, this was fast becoming one of my better lessons.
â€œOf course, there are fractions.â€
I write some fractions on the board.
â€œYou also have positive and negative numbers.â€
You guessed it, more examples. And you can probably see where this is going.
And when I finished teaching my students everything I knew about math, I looked at the clock and we were approximately halfway through the first of 187 class periods that I was now contractually required to fill.
This is how I now feel about my personal prowess for doing all those things that the Scouts exalt.
Iâ€™m tragically and entirely inadequate.