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Just Like Herding Cats Wednesday July 19, 2017

[To hear an audio version of this blog please click here:]

There is a wonderful advertisement that can be found on Youtube, 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.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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David Wed, Jul 19th 2017 @ 7:49am

Good Luck.

Orangeblossom Wed, Jul 19th 2017 @ 8:29am

Hope that all goes well for you & yours. Organising & challenging people at the same time is one of life's great challenges.

Lemon Wed, Jul 19th 2017 @ 8:49am

Just realised, with horror, I am one of those cats!

Mary Wednesday Wed, Jul 19th 2017 @ 9:57am

As I have a cat called Lemon - I can only hope this is a pseudonym and I actually know you on the outside! Otherwise this would just be far too freaky! And - most of the cats we view with affection. Most...

Lexi Wed, Jul 19th 2017 @ 11:25am

I think this is an excellent way to anticipate and manage stress - think ahead of tasks to give them! I have my family coming to stay with me in a few weeks and they are always asking "what's the plan?" and "what can we do" and I find it so stressful to keep them occupied. I will give them tasks and then maybe they won't notice me sneaking away for quiet time. :) Lexi

The Gardener Wed, Jul 19th 2017 @ 1:59pm

Lovely reminder of when I had to do a panic change of rooms to accomodate Mr G's problems. There were lots of a's to b's to c's in the way of clothes, books etc before moving the actual furniture. Had a helpful and efficient grand-son - major 'plan' to take 3 days. After half an hour huge bed and sofa had changed rooms. 'Next' says Tom. I was totally thrown - it all got done - mainly because my claims to have a rest at my age were totally ignored.

The Gardener Wed, Jul 19th 2017 @ 1:54pm

Lovely analogy - having had 5 cats in 62 years of marriage and they have all been boss the thought of 'herding' a lot of them is mind-boggling. You've reminded me, Mary,won't repeat any of them, of the countless 'do's' I've run over the years where the non-appearance/bossiness of your 'aides' makes you wonder why you ever try to run anything - and are always fool enough to think 'it will be alright next time'. I am addicted to 'Good 'ol Charlie Brown' at the moment (good antidote to Mr G) and find his efforts to fly a kite akin to many of ones more ambitious plans. Good luck anyway - and thanks for your remarks to my blog yesterday. xx

greenjean Wed, Jul 19th 2017 @ 2:28pm

Of course you can ask others to peel onions, why should you get to do all the crying which incidentally happens when peeling & chopping mountains of leeks - I learned that recently!!
Loved the video Mary and always so enjoy your messages, am amazed how you manage to achieve so much. Thanks for such encouraging and honest thoughts

the room above the garage Thu, Jul 20th 2017 @ 6:16pm

Hello Mary, sounds like a busy summer!! What a great daughter throwing herself into this and great parents for joining her. Yes to asking for help with the onions, all hands on deck! Love ratg x

David Sat, Jul 22nd 2017 @ 10:40am

I always buy the best shoes nmoney can buy as you have only one pair of feet and like Nancy Sinatra sung these boots were made for Walking and I DO A LOT OF STOMPING IN WAR ZONES.

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