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I wanted to read the fine print
before signing, but this 9-year-old was so persistent. With the confidence
of a multilevel marketing recruit, my child is ready to sell.
I imagine the assemblies
for these fundraisers must be like timeshare presentations, only without the
alcohol. Sometimes these motivational speakers offer trinkets for the high-performing
sellers, such as decorative rubber duckies that they can wear around their
necks, like so many notches on a lipstick case. A few years ago, the 1st graders nearly rioted over the last ninja duck. But there were no prizes for
this latest fundraiser, so if my kid wanted to sell candy bars for his personal
satisfaction, who was I to stop him?
So I signed the permission slip and
sent him off to wait in line to claim his cardboard suitcase filled with the
World’s Best Chocolate. On the walk home, I offer to carry the box, but no—my
boy has a spring in his step, swinging the case in his hand, like a runaway
with his suitcase.
These candies are going back to the school, unopened.
“Which house should we go to
first?” he asks. He lists off all the names of the neighbors we know. The same
neighbors we have already hit up for magazine subscriptions, overpriced
wrapping paper, and even pricier cans of roasted nuts. We have a ground rule
that families with school-age kids are off limits. Of the rest, some are public
school teachers while others are retired, but none of them is jonesing
for a $3 bar of milk chocolate—even if it is the best in the world.
“Maybe we should wait until the
weekend, when Ah Ma comes over,” I gently suggest. Ah Ma (my mother and my
kids’ grandmother) is always game for a school fundraiser. But no. What’s the
harm in knocking on a few doors?
Then I read the fine print on the
note that came home with the candy bars. If my son doesn’t sell the all of the
packages, I must pay for all the leftovers. Yikes. Unless, I turn in the entire
unopened carton. The Girl Scouts don’t even make families eat the cost of
unsold cookies, and I’d rather be stuck with boxes of Thin Mints, rather than
the world’s most mediocre chocolate. Not that I don’t want to support the
school. I bid hundreds of dollars at the silent auction each year. I even
bought a few rolls of extra-premium wrapping paper. I just prefer to give cash.
Not because I’m lazy, or because I want to protect my children from pounding
the pavement. It’s really about cutting out the middleman.
Even some of our friends and
relatives agree. When I took my little one to sell nuts and tchotchkes last
fall, one lady asked, “Can I make a donation instead?” and reached into her
purse for a $20 bill.
So I intercept the box before he
sells a bar of dark chocolate to his older brother. These candies are going
back to the school, unopened. Perhaps my son does have a knack for closing the
deal, but he’s too young to deal with sales quotas just yet.