Back to school time can be a source of joy and aggravation. For the parents who have toughed it out with listless children for an entire summer, something breaks on the inside when that school bus pulls up to the stop for the first time. Stay-at-home moms do a private jubilant jig that would put Savion Glover to shame. Stay-at-home dads are pleased to get their man caves back, and begin the elaborate process of remarking their turf. The immediate nuclear family is restored to a state of harmony.
And then there is the rest of the world.
For the rest of the community, back-to-school is met with veiled antagonism and at times, outright anger. For other commuters, the aforementioned school bus is perceived as an instrument of destruction, sent by agents of Hades. Getting caught behind a bus boarding children in the morning is a sure fire way to ensure an already late twenty-something will NOT make it to work on time. Irritated middle aged men ready their middle fingers to flick off cautious soccer moms as they ferry their “precious cargo” to school. Why, if it weren’t for this creeping thrill killing mini-van, he’d be zooming down I-85 in his freshly waxed BMW. Television programming will be changed to suit the after school demographic. Wal-Mart will relocate all your essentials from the front of the store to showcase Coco Pops and Crayons. Then…and then…there is the dreaded annual school fundraiser.
As someone who was single and childless no less than five years ago herself, I remember it well. I hated September! There is no worse feeling than being confronted with the pleading eyes of a pre-schooler, fundraising brochure in one hand and begging bowl in the other. Scratch that. The only thing worse is a mob of the aforementioned buggers. They attack you any and everywhere, but nowhere are their tactics more effective than in church.
“Go ask Ms. Malaka to buy something,” you hear their mother and my supposed friend
encourage them. “She single. She got money.”
No I don’t. What I “got” is a desire to buy some boots for the fall. And to get these boots, I’ve been living off of Ramen and cereal for the last 6 months, you evil inconsiderate wench.
The cute 5 year old approaches, asking me to support her school. I sigh and write a check in purchase of some wrapping paper. $8.00 for some wrapping paper! Seeing her success, her pack of little friends makes a beeline for my wallet. By the time service is over, I’ve bought cashews, chocolate and more wrapping paper. 8 weeks later when I receive my purchases, there is barely enough wrapping paper to cover 2 boxes and the chocolates and cashews are housed in tins considerably smaller than the magazine led to me to believe.
Deceivers, all of them.
And now in 2009, I find myself a part of the same scheme I so despised. This morning my daughter’s school director had donuts waiting for all the parents at carpool, with more “Holiday Wishes” brochures on the table right beside. As I reach for a donut, she reminds me that the deadline for all sales is next Monday.
“All we need is for each child to sell $50, then we can reach our goal,” she says. “We can buy books, supplies and give partial scholarships. We need each child to do their part.”
By “their”, she meant “you”.
Dagonit! Shouldn’t have stopped for that donut. The guilt was overwhelming. Up until that moment, by daughter had sold a grand total of $0 worth of goods, and I felt fine about it. Settling back into the driver’s seat, I frantically begin texting friends and family, asking them to buy crappy fundraising items and exorbitant prices. I feel dirty, but it must be done to keep egg off Nadjah’s ultra-competitve face. I acutely remember being the kid in my class who did not sell enough stuff and the disapproving looks that followed; and Nadjah will have none of that.
My sister was the first to respond to my APB via text.
“This is why kids shouldn’t go to school. It costs their relatives too much money to support their antics. Sign me up for 15”.
She’s such a good sister. On the other hand, that, ladies and gentlemen, is why all your relatives hate it when your kids go to school.