Friday, August 15, 2008

Reading, writing and wrapping paper?

You can tell that school has officially begun if kids are frantically knocking on your door. While I truly love my children’s school, each year begins something like this:

“Welcome back! Here’s your fundraising packet. Remember you need to sell, sell, sell, at least $350 if you want to earn your $5 lunch at the local Japanese restaurant with the rest of your friends; otherwise, we will consider you a loser. Oh, by the way, I’m your teacher.”

Although I tell my children each year that we would be happy to just make a donation in lieu of selling, they have been indoctrinated. This year the school faced a shortage of order forms, so my children somehow did not get theirs the day before school started like the rest of the children. This was not good. We live in a very competitive neighborhood, and it’s not just the kids; it’s the parents.

Last year, as I watched my children innocently knock on a neighbor’s door, another neighbor came charging out with fire in his eyes.

“Everything okay?” I asked.

“He’s ours! The Smith’s are ours!”

“Excuse me?” I said.

“We bought from their kids for years, now it’s their turn to buy from ours,” he shouted.

“Oh, okay, ha, ha,” I laughed nervously.

The neighbor glared at me, arms crossed.

He’s serious, I thought.

“Okay, kids, step away from the Smith’s”

“But, Mom, they were just about to order!”

“Uh, that’s alright, kids, just come on back here toward mama, slowly now.”

After days of pressing their noses to the glass door watching our neighbors’ kids run up and down the neighborhood, my kids finally got their order forms (thanks to a forceful call or two from mom). They sold a few items and came home the next day, saying, desperately, “We have to sell ten items, or we won’t get a monkey!”

Again, I said, “Excuse me?”

“A stuffed monkey, we have to sell ten items by tomorrow to get one!”

So, off to Grandma’s we go.

The next day, they proudly brought home their monkeys, which were apparently cheaply made.

“Mine’s injured! His leg is about to fall off,” said my son.

“Mine’s arm is coming off,” exclaimed my daughter.

Why didn’t we just buy one from the dollar store? I think.

We’ve spent the last few days walking the neighborhood, visiting friends from church and contacting long-lost relatives. The kids are really fretting about making this year’s sales goal. As for me, I don’t sweat it one bit. I know the kids will be dining on fried rice soon enough. After they sell their hearts out, I predict good ‘ole mom and dad will make up the difference, just as we have done for the past four years. Call it an educated guess.


jo(e) said...

This made me laugh -- and also be thankful that none of my kids are in elementary school any more. I HATED all that fundraising stuff. Eventually, I just started telling the school, "We don't do fundraising. It's against my principles."

The only happy memory I have of fundraising is the time that we had a big blizzard (March of 1993)and everyone was snowed in for a couple of days. These two little girls in the neighborhood went door to door selling Girl Scout cookies (their monther was the Scout leader and had the whole shipment of cookies in her house). No one had been to the grocery store in days, so we were all excited to buy them. The little girls ended up selling all the cookies for their whole troop.

Mark Williams said...

Just don't let them become used-car salespeople.