"Hey Julie," Cathy's email said. "You are currently signed up for five team dinners, 2 chain-gangs, 2 stats, the cocktail party, 1 gate, and the snack shack . . . (What !?!)
Say it ain't so!
I'm a gal who doesn't mind pitching in to do my fair share. I've been known to bake cookies, set up for parties, offer my house for gatherings and organize a group or two for school activities. I've driven field trips, sent homemade bouquets on "Teacher Appreciation Day," and worked school lunches. I've been roped in for fund raisers and board meetings, but as excited as my Freshman son is to be playing high school football, I have to admit that I'm less thrilled about the "team parent" aspect of it. I know football is the "holy grail" of high school sports, but this was ridiculous. Who signs up for everything?
Evidently, I do.
Let's back up just a minute to fill in the blanks . . . our well-organized team parent had placed all of the duties on a web hosting page called "TeamSnap." It's essentially designed to be a community bulletin board, where everything is posted: playing schedules, refreshments, activities, etc. Once "invited" to join your son's or daughter's team, the parent signs on and "SNAP" everything is supposedly at your fingertips (supposedly). Designed to replace the endless stream of emails, TeamSnap is the "go to" for all matters affecting your kid's teams. (In practice, the emails come anyway. I'm not the only adult who couldn't figure it out.)
The confusing part (for me, anyway) is that the parents aren't registered on the site - only the team participants (???). So having clicked on to my son's name (per the instructions) I dutifully checked off what I assumed were practice and team dates under the heading of "Availability," but turned out to be a host of other responsibilities as well. (Oops!) Moreover, carpool sign ups had been place in the "Refreshment" tab, making it even more difficult to assign the tasks.
Note to TeanSnap - you may want to make it possible to customize this template a bit.
But despite all my objections and criticisms about the site, the truth is I hadn't carefully read the entire contents before blithely checking away. Once I hit page 6 of an 18-page sign-up sheet, I was on automatic pilot. Of course, Tristan would be there for every practice and game (that's the commitment one makes to the other team members when taking on a team sport) and I assumed the coaches needed the information with respect to player availability. As for me, I had already signed up for team dinners and carpools the old-fashioned way - on a clipboard at the first team meeting. Wasn't that enough? (Evidently not.) You're actually supposed to read the fine print! (Go figure.)
When clients are handed a stack of disclosures (THUMP!) equivalent to Webster's Dictionary (the unabridged version) the mountain of reading material is a bit overwhelming as well. READ IT! Inside you'll find the story of the home you are so keen on buying. And having read it, the next step is to write down any and all questions you have that need explanations or further investigation. And no, it's not a "snap," it's time-consuming, but for most of us - a home purchase represents our single largest investment and asset. Isn't it worth your time tp know what you are buying and where any potential pitfalls may lie?
While a good deal of the material is required, "boiler plated" disclosures and proactive "release of liability" language, a good chunk of it is quite specific to the house - and therefore, valuable to know. In short, it's information worth pursuing. In my experience, the best results take place with the most informed buyers. (I didn't say the easiest, I said the best.)
So take your time, slow down and read the material, with the understanding that inspections are designed to draw attention to the defects of a home - not gush about its "fabulous views" and "ease of living" (that's called advertisement). You're bound to have a better result if you know all the facts going in - even those you don't necessarily like. At least, you'll be armed with knowledge that is bound to provide clarity.
In the meantime, quick, I need to sign back on to TeamSnap and delete a few check marks. Now that I've got some clairity, there's no way I'm hosting all those dinners!
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 15 years and has published more than 500 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.