Saturday 03 Dec 2016

A Tisket, a Tasket
Jennifer Flaten

Family Fun Night-those three words strike terror into a parents heart.

In case you aren't a parent and you are wondering why those three innocuous little words leave parents shaking, it is because those words are code for school fundraiser.

Any parent knows, when it comes to a school fundraiser one way or another you are contributing, whether it is by volunteering, donating, or attending you will be involved.

I went the donation route. I have a doctor's note excusing me from volunteering. It makes me break out in hives.

Each classroom had a special theme basket to fill. Naturally, each kid had a job to do-nag their parents into donating an item for the basket.

For those, who didn't want to shop, cold hard cash was gladly accepted; lest you think there was a money stuffed in each basket, the money went to volunteers to shop for the basket items. I know what a bummer.

Dollar wise I got off easy. That is because one kid didn't really care if she got something for the basket so we shopped the dollar bins.

One kid was too small to have an opinion, for that one I sent a nominal amount of money.

That left one kid. Unfortunately, the kid left loves her teacher and wants to please her by buying something stupendous for the basket.

In order to do this it required an excruciatingly long trip to the local Target.

While my kid shopped, I had to remind her constantly that these items were for a raffle basket, not for her.

Now, if you have ever shopped for a birthday party present, or took a child shopping for their siblings Christmas present, then you know that it is the seventh level of hell.

The kids want everything for themselves. It is very hard to get them to focus on the recipient and when you do, either they claim to have no idea what the recipient likes or no matter what you pull off the shelf, they say the kid will love it. This leads to arguments and sometimes tears.

Finally, after negotiations so heated they make the Middle East peace talks look mild you decide on a gift, or in this case something for the raffle basket.

Now, we got at least two letters pleading with us to give with a capital G.

According to these letters, the donations were in short supply, which makes sense given the current economic crisis. I mean I assume most people have better things to spend their money on...well it turns out that isn't true.

Either the letters were a cunning way to wring extra donations out of everyone or many people came through with 11th hour donations. I mean because damn those baskets were stuffed.

Our school goes up to 5th grade with five classes at each grade level, plus the office staff made a basket. Well, you do the math.

Anyway, the mind boggled at the whole long hallway filled with raffle baskets. One basket contained a PlayStation 3 and Guitar Hero; another had a Nintendo DS in addition to an enormous amount of other stuff.

I was flabbergasted that one basket contained over $200 worth of gift certificates-yes, I put my ticket in that one, do I look like a fool?

I was doing the math in my head, sure, each class has an average of 20 kids, but still that's much money.

As I strolled raffle aisle, I flashed back to when we first enrolled in the school and we were getting a tour.

The guide commented about that year's family fun night, and she mentioned that a parent donated a laptop for the raffle basket. At the time, I thought she was exaggerating a little bit. Guess not.

At what point does the raffle basket become more then a raffle basket and become an "I can give more then you" basket?

Moreover, is it wrong if a lucky raffle winner gets the basket filled with "I'll show Sherry how much I can give" items?

I just couldn't help thinking that we bought reasonable items for the basket, but in the scale of the items, ours were terribly puny.

Of course, I don't feel bad or guilty about this in anyway.

There is always going to be a mom, and on the rare occasion a dad, who wants you to know how much money, time or whatever that she has to give.

As if nothing else matters, this person could spend zero time involved with their kid's live, but damn they gave a laptop for the raffle basket.

I prefer to spend my time and money on my own kids. I show them I love them in other ways, besides donating a game system to the school raffle.

Of course, my high horse is so high that I couldn't get my raffle ticket in the slot. Like I said do I look like a fool?

Jennifer Flaten lives where the local delicacy is fried cheese, Wisconsin. She writes about family life, its amusing or not so amusing moments. "At least it's not another article on global warming," she says. Jennifer bakes a mean banana bread and admits an unusual attraction to balloon animals and cup cakes. Busy preparing for the zombie apocalypse, she stills finds time to write "As I See It," her witty, too often true column. "My urge to write," says Jennifer, "is driven by my love of cupcakes, with sprinkles on top. Who wouldn't write for cupcakes, with sprinkles," she wonders.

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