Want to know what I’ve spent my entire morning doing?
Hustling my relatives. Practically threatening mob-style vengeance. Shouting into the phone to secure unbreakable commitments.
Yeah, you guessed it; it’s the scourge of elementary school mothers. It’s time for the fall fundraising drive for the PTA. And it’s the LAST. DAY. I cannot put this off any longer.
Now, this is not only happening at my children’s elementary school, which I love. It was also at their preschool. And at my nephew’s school. And I totally understand fundraising, and everything the PTA does, and why they need money. And I will always support them. It’s just that this particular process tends to stress me out. It would be so much easier to write a check, but my kids drool over the prize catalog and the Easy-Way-Out train screeches to a noisy halt at my kitchen table.
The damn prizes. They suck the kids in, you know, with the promise of cheap plastic toys. My children would scoff at a foam ringer rocket (which, I’m disturbed to note, kind of sounds like a sex toy) in the dollar store, but they’ll sell each other to the neighbors to win one as a prize.
Caroline, who I can optimistically call “goal-driven,” has been driving me crazy about ordering. Ordering anything, as long as she gets the Positive Ion Silicone Band Watch (10 items sold) at the end of the day. She spent the first week telling me I had to sell or buy 200 items so she could get an iPad. (Um, or I could just buy an iPad, and not have a closet full of hand towels with cookie recipes on them, right?) It did take a full week to get her to downsize that goal. And you might suggest that she do the selling herself, but I’ve always been uncomfortable with making kids sell things. (To her credit, she did walk downstairs and yell, “Grumpy, you wanna buy some chocolates?” My dad responded, “My light bulb is burned out.” And that was it for her selling.)
It was bearable when we were in the glory days of this fundraiser and only gift wrap was offered, because we can all rationalize gift wrap and there are only so many types of gift wrap. But then they added chocolates, irresistible to the kids but overpriced and terrible, and that just gave us too many choices.
And now this year? I swear to God, it’s like a Walmart catalog in front of me. The options are dizzying. The website offers nearly 30 categories and hundreds of items. You can get confused right there; I mean, what’s the real difference between Cook’s Nook and Kitchen and Confections? And, frankly, the word confections is misleading, because you can’t really order the confections online, which I didn’t know. So I’ve been busy digging the messy order form out of the trash, smoothing the wrinkles and wiping away coffee grinds, readying it to turn in this afternoon so Caroline can get the Frosty Mint Penguins she’s desperate for me to order.
I guess it was all cute when the kids brought home the big fat envelopes and attacked the catalogs with sharpie markers, clearly and irrationally circling the things they wanted. (Really, Jack, you need a money clip? And Caroline, what’s so interesting about the Hamburger Magic Spanish Cookbook?) And it really is kind of funny to see my PTA friends dressed like giant Christmas and Hanukkah presents at the morning drop off.
But it’s not so cute when I am frantically adding up my items and begging my sister to PLEASE get the Peppermint Candle Trio even though she’s already spent $60 because I promised Caroline ten items and I’m spending a fortune on everything from the Flash of Light dolphin earrings to the Sports Illustrated Kids subscription Jack circled. It’s not so cute when I’m scrambling to find any item under $12.50 so I can just order ten of whatever it is and be done. It’s not so cute when my husband is looking at the order form and says to Caroline, “Yeah, we’re just not spending $300 on that junk” and it’s really not so cute when Caroline flies into a “you don’t understand and you don’t care about me or my school” rage and crumples up the paper and throws it away.
So, here we are. The eleventh hour. I’ve committed to about seven items. I’m thinking my sister, or my sister-in-law, will get us there. Bring on the Positive Ion Silicone Band Watch, suckers.
And to my mother-in-law, who won’t answer her phone...I’m on to you. Those fingers aren’t broken. If we’re going to get her the spy kit including spy glasses AND spy pen, I’m going to need a little bit of help here.