Sunday, October 7, 2012


One of my many reservations about sending Jack across town to the French immersion school (aside from the elitism, inequity, and all that) was that we had been repeatedly warned about all of the fundraising that's done at his school. While most kids can handle a few magazine and gift wrap sales, I know my kid and I knew he could not.

Fundraiser #1 was shoved down our throats a mere two weeks into the school year. (And don't even get me started on why they do so much fundraising because it kind of makes my blood boil with that whole elitism and inequity and all that so LA-LA-LA.) Jack came bounding in the door clutching his first ever fundraiser packet and talking excitedly about all of the prizes he was going to win. And like a fool I just waited for his enthusiasm to wane, knowing full well that once his eyes were on these prizes, he would be able to think of nothing else.

Jack badgered me relentlessly about going door-to-door on his quest for sales, but I stood my ground and refused to let him hustle his overpriced chocolates and wrapping paper in our already economically depressed neighborhood.I don't want to be that neighbor, and I certainly don't want the neighborhood kids coming to my house to peddle their wares. Jack was pissed.

"But Mo-om, how am I going to win those prizes? I need at least 7 sales to get the pencil topper, the bracelet and the bracelet plugs!"

I wanted to tell him how crappy these "prizes" really are, but as I have told you before, Jack gives absolutely no credit to my parental wisdom and/or life experience. So instead I told him I would buy a roll of wrapping paper, knowing full well that that would not be good enough. 1 sale = the pencil topper only. Like I said, not good enough.

I changed my approach and helped him come up with his list of trusted adults. It was a short list, but that's because Jack is usually pretty shy around adults and even people who have known his since birth often get the silent treatment from him. This is really frustrating to me at times, but he is who he is, and a friendly conversationalist he is not.

The grandmas were good for a few sales and that just whet his appetite for more. I tried (unsuccessfully) to hide the fundraiser packet for awhile, but Jack would not and could not let it go. I started to get really irritated about the whole thing. Maybe I would just "forget" to place the order and be done with all of this nonsense. Damn that school and their crappy prizes! The whole thing was making me grumpy.

As the end of the fundraiser approached, Jack got more and more annoying. Then one night he got up out of bed and came tearfully to the couch. You can always tell the difference between bratty crying and genuine crying with Jack because he makes this pathetic little froggy face whenever he is really sad. Froggy face said, "Mom, I'm just really sad because I want to win those prizes and get my name called over the intercom to come to the office and every day I wait to hear my name and I never do." And suddenly I realized just how important this pencil topper and bracelet and bracelet plug business really was to him. I remembered being a kid and selling magazines for crappy prizes and the excitement of the raffles and assemblies and all of that consumerism.

Later that night as I was attempting to sleep (it's getting rough here, people, the end is near), Brent came to my bedside and informed me that a building behind our house was on fire. "But I don't think you need to get up or anything," he continued nonchalantly. FIRE? OUR HOUSE? SLEEPING KIDS? I bolted up out of bed and sure enough, big orange flames were shooting up from over the fence, illuminating our backyard. We could hear the sirens coming from all directions and soon we were listening to the spray of hoses as the fiery peaks behind us began to die down.

Hopped up on adrenaline, I knew that going back to bed would be a joke. So instead I sat up with Brent and we talked until we both got sleepy enough for bed. During this time I had a mini emotional breakdown, fueled in part by pregnancy hormones, over this whole fundraiser. I was feeling guilty for not realizing earlier just how important this was to Jack. "Sometimes I think we are too hard on our kids," Brent concluded. "Jack is a good guy. Just buy some more wrapping paper so he can get his prizes."

And so, thanks to Brent's logic and some very special trusted adults, Jack managed to sell enough items to get his pencil topper, his bracelet, AND the bracelet plugs.

All the next day at work I kept thinking about what Brent had said. Jack is a good guy. He is the kid who never takes his eyes off the ball during the soccer game.

But he's also the kid who will sit for hours at a time and listen intently to an audio book.

He punches in his own number in the school lunch line. He loves school and homework and learning.

He eats his broccoli. He is a good kid and he deserved to win those stupid crappy prizes simply because it meant so much to him.

When I came home that afternoon, Jack came running up to show me everything he had won that day. Among his loot was a giant stuffed alligator named Zoe. "Where did this come from?" I asked. Brent shrugged his shoulders and Jack launched into this bizarre story about being called up to the principal's office and having to wait and getting the stuffed alligator. Brent and I raised our eyebrows and then I texted a friend who has an older child at our school and discovered that Jack had won a special raffle prize for participating in the fundraiser. And for some reason this made me feel really, really good, like all was right with the world.

Despite the fact that the bracelet and one of the bracelet plugs broke before he even got them home from school that day and Brent had to take him back to the office to get replacements. And then I had to sew up Zoe's back when she started leaking stuffing. But Jack didn't seem to mind. When you are five, even crappy prizes are super exciting.

Also, now I have plenty of wrapping paper. So here's to our first elementary school fundraiser. We survived. And with the age span of our three kids, this means we only have 11 more years of this to go.

PS: Do let me know if you're ever in the market for overpriced chocolates or wrapping paper. I can hook you up.


  1. "...but I stood my ground and refused to let him hustle his overpriced chocolates and wrapping paper in our already economically depressed neighborhood." <---Comedy gold. :) Yay for Jack!

  2. You should consider posting these fundraisers on Facebook; a lot of them now have online ordering options if you punch in a school code & the child's name. I actually ordered horribly overpriced wrapping paper to support my friend's kid's school... in Georgia. On the plus side, for being expensive, it IS awfully cute. LOL I'm glad Jack got his prizes and is basking in his success!

  3. Cassadie, I am willing to support kiddos too. I loved fundraising and would walk up and down the rural road I grew up on for all of them. Our nearest neighbors were a couple of grandmotherly women who loved my enthusiasm and usually were very supportive. It does teach a certain amount of responsibility and goal setting as insignificant and annoying as it may seem to parents. Teresa Hager

  4. Cassadie - you crack me up every time I read your blog. Life's little annoyances to you, are my laughter for the day - sorry!