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There is a wonderful advertisement that can be found on Youtube, http://bit.ly/2usTpVI featuring a team of cowboys (or possibly catboys) driving a herd of cats across the American Plains. Of course, it's ridiculous and amusing, but the more times you watch it, the more you admire the people who put it together. There is the sneezing catboy with the allergies, the one rerolling a large ball of yarn, the one with a lint roller...
It has been a bit like that for my daughter as she (and her long-suffering father) attempt to organise fifty (no – forty-eight, make that fifty-one, fifty-three – no, we're back at forty-nine) sailing cadets for a week into twenty-five or so yachts and dinghies ensuring each boat has a competent helm and nobody sails too many times with someone they detest.
You may remember that she is the cadet commodore for the yacht club, and organising the activity week for the cadets is her primary duty for the year. It's quite a task for a fifteen-year-old.
The cadets range in age from suspiciously small "eight-year olds" to the hulking sixteen year olds who are more interested in looking cool than in helping the littlies. The sailing craft range from an Oyster Smack which could take almost any number of cadets to the little Toppers which are single-handed dinghies.
Then there are the adults.
There must be sufficient safety boats to ensure all sailing cadets are looked after. The owners of the yachts who have kindly volunteered their craft and sailing expertise for the week must be managed and mollified and made to feel appreciated. The mothers of the cadets must be made to feel useful.
Because everyone "just wants to help" and it's driving my poor daughter to screaming point. They all want to help in their own way, doing things they think need doing in the way they think things should be done. She's organised it already and they are disrupting it all!
Herding cats would be easier. But she's learning the subtle art of delegation. And stress-management.
I will have this to a lesser extent. I am merely feeding the eleven cadets who are on our side of the river. I have sorted out a menu, created a shopping list and budget and I will know exactly what to do and at what time to have a hot meal on the table at exactly five o'clock each day, so they can eat, turn around and head back over the river for the evening activities.
But I know I will be inundated with offers of "help". Because people like to help. People like to feel useful.
So, rather than growl at them to go away and let me get on with it, I am thinking up tasks which can be usefully delegated. I can ask my "helpers" to prepare salads, to peel potatoes, to roll seventy-two meatballs.
I am trying to decide if it's fair to ask them to peel onions.
A Moodscope member.