Too Much is...well, Too Much!

Alas, I have entered the world of one of those older curmudgeon types who sit around and say, "back in MY day, we didn't...".(fill in appropriate wording).

Is it just me, or is there a lot more superfluous fundraisers and opportunities to waste money at your child's school?

***Disclaimer before I begin ranting. I'm all for public school. I am a succesful product of the institution, and I see a lot of value in it. Disclaimer over.***

However, I am not a fan of the continuous fundraisers that seem to perpetually occur at my daughters' school. I get that we are in troubled financial times and that schools seem to be on the short end of state funding (especially in my state!). However, in the six or so months that school has been in session (minus vacations), we have had as many (and probably more) fundraisers. Let's see, we've had two (maybe even three) McDonald's fundraisers. There was that candy bar fundraiser they handed out the FIRST week of school -- only to be followed by another cheesy catalog of items-nobody-really-wants that was handed out literally the day after the candy bar money was turned in. We've had Boo Grams (special suckers with a piece of paper for Halloween), dessert sales, Box Tops for Education drives, Capri Sun collections...and I'm sure I'm missing something. Isn't there a box I can check at her school that says, "I will write you a check for $____, and in exchange, please don't send home any fundraiser opportunites and/or incite my child to want to sell, sell, sell them so she can receive a $.15 toy and make me the bad guy who has to say no because I could buy her one at Dollar Tree (wait...that's a dollar!). Which will then make her re-visit the topic of, "Mom, are we poor?"

Sidebar about Box Tops for Education: My sister told me when my eldest daughter was tiny that I should collect all the Box Tops I could get my hands on because "one day" she would have a class competition and I could help her win. So, being one who takes her sister's advice, and also one who is competitive by nature, I saved every lovin' Box Top for over four years. When they collected them in preschool, but weren't having a competition with the school, I polited declined to donate them. BUT, this year was the big year. At last, a class competition! I pulled down that baggie that has been on my refrigerator since Hayden was crawling, and sorted them out. I was crushed to realize that about 30 of them were expired (why the expiration date, Box Top people?), but was glad to see that my baggie still contained about 200 good ones -- until I realized that after all my hard work of buying, clipping and saving, I had donated a whopping $20.00 to her classroom. Look at me...Ms. Generous! I'm not ashamed to admit that I tried to find out if I could write a check in exchange for more Box Tops from their website. Sidebar over.

Yet, the fundraiser that got me going was the latest one -- right in time for February 14th. It was a dreary, foggy morning when I saw the PTC parents sitting out at the "sales" table in front of the school as I pulled up in my van-full-o'-kids. I did a horrified double-take and hoped my second-grader would not notice. Alas, she did. And, so it began a little something like this:

Hayden: "Moooohhhhm, do you see those Friendship Grams they're selling over there?"
Me: "Yes, Hayden, I do."
Hayden: "Can I get one?"
Me: "No, honey."
Hayden: "Why not? I really want to give one to my friends?"
Me: "You are giving something to your friends."
Hayden: "I am?"
Me: "Yep...they're called Valentines. Remember? We bought that box of TinkerBell valentines and the suckers to put on them?"
Hayden: "Yeah, but I really want a Friendship Gram."
Me: "Well you are going to get 24 valentines and candy in about 4 days from all your "friends."
Hayden: "But, it's not a Friendship Gram."
Me: (Muttering in my head about the insanity of the fundraising opportunities at our school)

I think I was finally able to convince her that they were unecessary due to the large bounty of candied items she was due to receive. However, I must confess to a minor twinge of guilt when she announced that she didn't even get one Friendship Gram on the big day. (It's my fault....guess who bought her a Boo Gram in October?)

You see...I definitely remember how it felt to be special in grade school. I remember seeing a big balloon bouquet being delievered to my classroom and hoping and praying it was for me. I also remembered how great it felt getting a note from the office telling to report there at lunch time because my dad was taking me out to eat. I really want to do that for my kids. However, I don't want to be manipulated or guilted into it. Call me a cheapskate, but I certainly don't want to spent $10 on valentines for her classmates and then spend another $10 on "special" valentines for the chosen inner circle of her friends. Is that really necessary?

And while we are talking about necessary...I'm in the same boat with the multiple yearbook order forms I have received for both of my girls. The youngest is in preschool. Really? Is she really going to look back one day and say, "my mom didn't love me enough to spend $20 on a paper bound book that has one photo of me in it?" And what would I do with 18 yearbooks x 4 children? I only remember getting yearbooks starting in junior high. I have six...and it's not like I look at them very much...or ever. I'm not sorry I have them. But, I don't feel badly about not having one for every school year of my life.

Maybe I'm too practical. Maybe I'm cheap. Perhaps I'm both. And to tell the truth, I really don't think I'm wrong. So, I'm laying down the law. No yearbooks until junior high, and no Friendship Grams for Valentine's Day. Instead, I'll be the one with a cart full of Box Tops items and pallets of Capri Suns to make up for it! Sure it's only like $.10 each. In 20 years, I'll have donated $20! (Whoo hoo!) On secondhand, maybe I'll just write out a check....

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