In my defense, it sounded ludicrous. "Mommy, Mommy, we’re going to have a bake sale to cure cancer." Really? We’re one cookie away from a cure? Who knew?
In my defense, I had very short notice. "Can you just bake everything in this book that has a sticky note? We’ll do it on Sunday." In two days? Two days in which you have a figure skating competition, a basketball game, an end-of-season pizza party and an awards show? Oh, yeah, and Jack and Daddy and I have lives, too.
In my defense, I didn’t think they’d have much success. "How cold will it be? Really? So maybe we sell hot chocolate instead of lemonade?" No, Caroline, the hot chocolate will freeze upon exposure to the elements. Stick to vodka for the parents. It never freezes, and they’ll mix it with the lemonade.
In my defense, my daughter’s philanthropic sales always mean a lot of work for me, a playdate for her and limited financial success for the organization. "Remember how I saved the sea turtles last summer?" Yes. Your $9 donation to the conservancy ended the plight of sea turtles everywhere.
So I gave a very dramatic, unsupportive sigh and said, "Fine. I’ll make something. But I have to already have all the ingredients in my kitchen. Because I’m too busy running you from activity to activity to go by the store." (Fine, I didn’t say that last sentence, but I thought it, and it sounded meaner than that in my head.)
And so, because I’m passive aggressive and because I didn’t know what these were doing lurking in my dry food closet, I unleashed the worst punishment I could think of: I used boxed cake mixes. (Oh, stop it. It’s just a thing I have. I like to bake from scratch. I do eat fish sticks, so see? I’m normal. Insofar as eating fish sticks makes me normal.)
So I came home from the post-basketball party Saturday night and baked up a storm with all my boxed mixes. I was still chanting, "Waste of time, waste of time, waste of time" in my head, but at least I was producing.
Sunday morning, we did our church and Sunday school thing. I was still annoyed about the bake sale, primarily because I was hearing, "And can you get the card table? And can I have money to make change? And do you have napkins and maybe a basket and perhaps some bags and ribbons for the cookies and maybe can we run by the store and get cookies if it looks like there aren’t any because, after all, the signs do say 'cookies for cancer' so we need cookies, right?"
Then I saw something posted on the neighborhood listserv, by my similarly-imposed-upon friend – the mother of Caroline’s cohort.
"Two industrious 4th graders will be selling lemonade, hot chocolate and yummy baked goods today with all proceeds going to cancer research, and a local young mother battling stage 4 breast and brain cancer." (PR. And she spent an entire day baking. She's just a better mother than I am, though not significantly less sarsactic.)
Then Caroline asked me if she could donate some of the money to Kyle.
Then I got it. This wasn’t about me being put out. This wasn’t about Caroline sabotaging our weekend. This was about two little girls who know people with cancer, and who thought they could help, in the only way little girls can.
And I felt terrible. Which is how I usually feel when I think I’ve underestimated my kids.
So I got the card table and bought extra cookies and packaged them with pink and green ribbon and drove Jack over with a wad of cash and asked my neighbors to stop by.
And those little girls made $160 in two hours. And I just pledged a chunk of it to a fundraiser in which Kyle is going to shave his head for kids with cancer, which just gives me chills, and tears, thinking of the years in which a bald head wasn’t his choice.
Sometimes my kids remind me that I still have a lot to learn.
(And, truth be told, sometimes they remind me they have vast earning potential if I can come up with a worthy cause.)