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Carolyn Hax: Retiring from the high school parent club

Washington Post

Dear Carolyn: I have been involved in our high school parent club for eight years. Each year we put out notices that parents are needed to coordinate events for students. For the last several years, a few parents have volunteered to help with events, but no one wants to coordinate. Parents are willing to give money and donate food, but we need the manpower.

My last child is a senior and I have been trying to back out of commitments for the past couple of years. No one is stepping up so I continued on. I was in charge of our After Graduation Bash that we throw every year to keep our seniors safe with great activities, food and prizes. Next year, I want to be able to enjoy my last child’s graduation without having the party hanging over my head and all that is needed to do that night. I put out an email plea to about a dozen people that I personally know, begging for someone to step up. Not one person responded to the email.

Frankly, I am bitter. I work outside the home, have other commitments including a daughter with health issues. I get it – people are busy, but so am I. I don’t know what to do other than telling the principal that I am not coordinating the event again this year and then he needs to deal with it. Then I look like the schmuck. Old and Exhausted

No, you don’t.

And even if you do – why do you care? Does your audience run your life, or do you?

Your reasons are good enough because they’re yours, period.

If it helps, though, from here you look like the person who has put in eight years of hard miles and is ready to turn in the keys.

The correct response to which, whether the principal has the presence of mind to say it or not, is: “Thank you, parent-club hero. You have served above and beyond. We can never hope to replace you.”

Even if that proves literally true, it is not a guilt trip and not an invitation for you to serve beyond the beyond. If no new parent steps into your place, then the school needs to go to a Plan B, and if the Plan B is not as good as the Plan A they’re retiring in your absence, then that will no doubt disappoint your rising senior and still not be your fault for turning in the keys.

It will be the fault, in combination, of: the parents who don’t take possession of them in your stead; the school for not doing more to recruit new talent; the students themselves for not mobilizing to secure something they care about; and changing times, which are always poised to have the last word when there’s finally no one left to speak up for the old ones.

If my larger point is not clear, then allow me to make it so: Unless it’s a matter of sustaining life and dire consequences will follow if you don’t wait until you’re replaced, there is no “trying” to step away from a volunteer position. There is simply resigning and letting the After Graduation Bash potato chips fall where they may.

Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com.

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