11/04/2010

Cookie Dough Woes and Contrarian Tendencies

I am unabashedly anti-establishment. I am proudly contrarian. There are a lot of things we do as a society that are absolute horseshit, and I'm rarely shy in saying so. So since I'm not bashful, I'm sure as hell not shy, and I'm delivering cookie dough today because I didn't buck the damned system this one time, let me say here, loudly, that many of the fundraisers schools hold nowadays are bullshit.

I don't mind giving money for teachers to buy new supplies, for students to go on trips, and I'll gladly fork over money for the chocolate bars that schools used to sell (it's chocolate, 'nuff said!). I'm not stingy and I like to help folks. Hah, and we know I love chocolate.

It pisses the crap out of me that these fundraisers today have no clear objectives and that much of the money seems designed to make the people who put them together (not the schools, but the companies) a shitload of money. They indoctrinate our children: "but, Mom, I have to sell X amount of them so that my class can ride in a stretch hum-vee limo and go to a pizza party!"

What? Seriously? What? Many of the same kids whose parents go out and sell this stuff for their children (grandma did my daughter's; if it had been me, I'd have ignored it like I've ignored the last three years worth) also attend churches and tithe, give their money and time to worthy causes; so, are they not looking closely at where the money goes, not questioning it? Is it competition, support, bandwagoning, getting folks back for the crap they've bought from the other people's kids over the years?

Why support this kind of commercialized crap that isn't about charitable causes but getting the principal to do something wacky and in order to get cheap gimmicky crap prizes? Is it about conformity? Fitting in? Sigh.

My mom's right; my girls are already noticeably different, and everything I do that smacks of nonconformity and independent thinking in relation to school activities will serve to reinforce those differences between them and the other kids. "Hey, how come you wear SpongeBob every day and your mom won't play nice with other moms and buy cookie dough so we can go to a pizza part in a limo?"

So how do I help my kids find their niche (one where they are accepted, not the weird-kid with the weird mom niche) while not abdicating reason, critical thinking and standing up for one's principles? Ah, crap, are they in a pickle or what? The PTA's already made it a bottleneck; in order to be a room mom, you have to do it the PTA way; the ways I interacted with the school systems when my son went to school are long gone. And I don't do groupthink very well. And I hate crowds. Ummm, and I have a  hard time not saying something's stupid if I think it's stupid. I did one year as a room mom, and if the PTA would have quit telling me what to do, how to do it, and when to do it, and all that I couldn't do, I'd have kept offering.

How do I show the teachers I support them and am there to help in whatever way while gracefully refusing to do the group conformity crap I think is a slap in the faces of all the truly needy folks out there in the world? Not easy, is it? Ahhh, and most the parents are just trying to be supportive, helpful, go-to people. There's nothing wrong with it. It's like the folks who give to Autism Speaks. They've got good intentions. It's not their fault that AS keeps more money to pay their staff and to raise more money than they give out or back. If I were a Christian, I'd say something profound like "love the sinner, hate the sin." Except I'd twist it: honor those with good intentions who put their pocket books and their time where their hearts are and skewer the organizations who grow fat taking advantage of the good people who care and want to help.

I'm not against fundraisers in general. I think schools should have the things they need to do their jobs well. If that can't be done with tax dollars, alone, then ask me, ask parents, ask the community to help. Do the old-time pancake suppers or barbecue dinners. Do the chocolate bars, for gods' sakes, do the chocolate; I'll be your biggest buyer! But enough with these glossy, expensive prepackaged, canned fundraisers that aren't tied to goals for the school and that don't clearly show how much goes back to the school and for what.

Let our children grow up with clear values about supporting the community for the community's sake, not because they want to ride in a stretch limo for a pizza party. Let's stop making third party companies rich for a small piece of the pie. Let's ask, as parents, as stakeholders, how much of the money raised goes back into the school and how much went into somebody else's pockets? Let's put a stop to gimmicky prizes that do nothing but foster egocentric thinking. And for the love of all that's sane, frakking end the whole limo stuff now. Mess with the principal all you want, though; cuz that's just good plain fun. :-)

Plus, I don't bake anymore, and if I'm paying 15 bucks for a tub of cookie dough, I want it to get out of the tub itself and bake itself. Hee, although my mom will point out, I didn't buy any cookie dough. Damn straight. Ain't it enough I caved to conformity this one time? Bakeries are what fresh baked cookies are for!

6 comments:

barryglibb said...

Let our children grow up with clear values about supporting the community for the community's sake, not because they want to ride in a stretch limo for a pizza party.

Here-here! It's also a bit contrary that this has indeed become the anti-establishment view, when back in the day, the inclusion of profiteering businesses would have been seen as such. Incentives are such a duplicitous tool when used incorrectly (or possibly at all, depending).

Autism Mom Rising said...

I couldn't agree more. There is not enough transparency. And, I hate all the corporate stuff that comes home in my son's folder every day. One day a few years ago I was doing my volunteer job in the school library during a PTA leadership meeting in which the principal was in attendance. They were talking about something they, the inner circle, wanted to spend PTA funds on. Someone was all, "What if somone shows up at the meeting and says no, they don't like it" and someone else was all, "we'll just say, well show us your PTA card" (because noone actually carries it in their wallet). I was disgusted and have never joined the PTA since.

My kid's special ed teacher is such a good disciplinarian that the pricipal constantly pulls him out of the classroom to put out fires in other classrooms...or he sends the kids who misbehave to our classroom. First off, that robs the ECE kids of their teacher for too much of the day AND what message does that send to the Autistic kids when the kids who are being bad are sent to the ECE room?

It never ends.

kathleen said...

Well said Kim..I like you don't buy any of the crap-unless I know ALL of the proceeds are going to the school..and as for the PTA...well I don't play well enough with the other mothers...sigh..

K Bjornstad said...

I never really got the point of those. When I was in kindergarten it was exciting, but then it kind of lost its appeal. I always wanted to win but I quickly realized that there were 400 kids in my school and they all wanted to win, too--and more importantly, there were only 1,000 people in my town, so no one was winning a single freaking prize unless they went into other towns.

Now I realize how bad these are for the kids. It's a way to utilize child labor legally, and to exploit the kids to sell the companies thousands of dollars worth of candy all or a cheap dollar-store prize. I'm not having kids, but if I did, I'd tell them to do well in school and I'd buy them the prize myself, instead of having them work to earn very little.

Also...the parents just end up buying it themselves. I don't get why people actually try to get their kids involved with this. Your approach is obviously less frustrating.

christophersmom said...

When I first moved to this country I was shocked at the commercialism in the school fundraisers. And I thought, well, maybe when I have child and she goes to school I can try to convince them to use different fundraising methods. Well, it sounds like the fundraisers are pretty much the same crap all over the country in pretty much any school, public or private. The cookies are expensive and don't taste that great. Every year I sell less and less, and I don't blame my coworkers. : )

Corabelle said...

Awesome post! I couldnt agree more. My DD is in 2nd grade and everytime they send home a flyer about those fundraisers to help the PTA I stop it in its tracks. (we do spend for feild trips/music programs and donate supplies to the school). they also send us home with local busniess coupons every week. Its aweful. we manged to squelsh the fundraisers with DD by going to the dollar store and having her pick out a toy (no competing for the prize, and she gets something she likes), and donating her old toys to other people in need. + its added time for her to count money and make educated spending choices. I'm always going to be the "weird" mom with the "weird" kid. thankfuly the school years dont last forever, and I hope to be giving DD some useful knowlege in the smart spending dept that she can take with her when she goes to Uni