Hey elementary school, are you dracula, cuz you’re sucking me dry…

Last night, while ignoring the pile of dishes and leftover food congealing on the stove so I could cram fun size KitKat bars and peanut butter cups down my throat while Wife was upstairs putting the boys to bed, Ace came down to give me my good night kiss and present me with her papers du jour from school.

Along with all of her school work, permission slips and reminders, as well as the daily planner I have to sign, there are all to often requests for either our time or money and last night was no exception.

This time it was a piece of art on crap that we could purchase for the benefit of the school. It’s not just any old art though, but art that Ace had created herself. We could get her admittedly good piece of work put onto a mouse pad or coffee mug or iPad case or key chain or ornament or water bottle or T-shirt or a whole host of other poorly made Chinese trinkets that we’d surely never use.

I’ve been on this planet for 40 years now and been Ace’s dad for 10, so I know when she’s excited about something and needs to be let down more gingerly with my “No, not this time” than she does when it’s

Must avoid the pouty face...

Must avoid the pouty face…

something she could care less about like permission to attend violin camp or something equally awful so as to not hurt her little feelings as only a parent can do to a child.

I was relieved to see that the due date wasn’t the very next day, because that would have meant having to write a check right then and there to get my new chef’s apron adorned with Ace’s special drawing. Because there was time, I told her that her drawing (it’s actually right there on the order form!!) was really good, and that her mother and I would talk about it and probably buy something for sure.

There is a good chance that I may buy something this time around only because it’s her last year in elementary school and I’m sentimental like that, but I’m getting tired of these schools making me feel like a total dick every month because I have to send my kid to school with order forms that say “No Thanks” while many of her classmates’ parents buy any and everything they can to support their little Johnny’s school.

I don’t want to come off as the cheap bastard that I am, but it’s gotten ridiculous. Aside from the fundraising at Ace’s school, we have a fundraiser at Cool’s school as well that we’re expected to participate in. I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but I believe the deal is we can either sell $350 worth of pizzas or holiday garbage, or write the school a check for $140 as a buyout option.

Um, Cool is four years old and is so easily distracted by bouncing balls or iPhone rings that his sales pitches are choppy and incoherent at best. Additionally, the wife frowns on my sending him out the door on his own to sell the necessary number of pizzas to keep the money Nazis at his Catholic preschool at bay. All this means is that this guy *DOAT points two thumbs at himself* is the one stuck selling this shit.

For starters, the holiday magazine stuff is just awful and nobody is ever interested in buying the bows or wrapping paper or whatever else is in that category, so our best bet is always the pizza.

So, daddy sends out an email to his unsuspecting coworkers such as this:

Look at me selling stuff...

Look at me selling stuff…

Unable to resist Cool’s tiny little face, many cave and offer to buy frozen pizzas for nights when they don’t feel like going all out for their family dinner.

While they really aren’t terribly bad pizzas, the issue is where in the world am I supposed to store 50 fucking frozen pizzas at work all day??? I made it work the first year, but have refused this year to either sell pizzas or pay their precious buyout fee. I write a check for over $330 a month for his PRESCHOOL!!!!!! If you need 140 more dollars then just work it into the tuition for God’s sake!

These things are infuriating not necessarily unto themselves, but the cumulative amount from constant nickling and diming adds up.

Aside from the fundraisers, there are now not one, but two picture days at Ace’s school. That’s twice the opportunity to get shitty pictures of your kid taken in ridiculous poses in front of even more ridiculous backgrounds! It’s like they intentionally take fucked up photos so you’ll buy them the second time hoping they’ll be better in the spring.

The most fiendish part of the school picture conspiracy is that they send the kid home with a whole envelope of pictures already printed. Parents are allowed to purchase them and additional packets for the extended family, but if you don’t want to pay for them, then please send them back to school with your child.

Daddy: “What do they do with the pictures if we send them back with you, Ace?”

Ace: “They said that they’ll throw them away for us.”

Nice! Some parents, I’m sure, can’t bear the thought of their baby’s photos in a giant dumpster, but the DOAT clan is beyond that. Thankfully, Wife isn’t very sentimental about most things school related, so the decision to let them toss the pictures in the trash is pretty easy. Don’t get me wrong, we do buy some pictures, but we wait until the spring, because they have to be better. It’s the last chance so the photographers do it right then.

I’ll save for another post my frustrations with being unable to attend every trivia night, PTO meeting or classroom parents are invited event that also make me feel like an inadequate parent. Those are in no short supply either.

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37 Responses to Hey elementary school, are you dracula, cuz you’re sucking me dry…

  1. Carrie Rubin says:

    I feel your pain, though it sounds like you have it worse than I do. I understand schools’ needs for extra funds, but the sales get old. After taking the first couple catalogs to work and no doubt annoying my coworkers, I leveled with my kids and said I wouldn’t do that anymore. I started buying Christmas gifts from the catalogs (for teachers, etc.). That way I helped with the fundraiser and got Christmas shopping done at the same time. I hope the teachers enjoyed the familiar chocolate, calendars, ornaments, etc. that came straight from the catalogs they gave us…

    • Those poor teachers. You couldn’t get those other tight ass Jewish doctors to purchase hundreds of dollars of good for your children? It was probably your shoes that let your kids down.

      • Carrie Rubin says:

        Probably. It always gets back to the shoes. But they’ve got their own kids and their own catalogs to deal with. They’re pediatricians and nurses, not Mercedes-driving heart surgeons, after all. For the record, I’m not Jewish, even though my name suggests otherwise. My husband is not Jewish either. How messed up is that nomenclature?

  2. Mmhm. I’m here to tell you, public school nickels and dimes you to death, too. When appropriate, I buy candles, and maybe some ornaments, which I can give to our mothers as gifts, but they can take their frozen pizzas and frozen cookie dough and well, you know…
    We did buy the artwork, for every single one of our kids, THE FIRST TIME. We have magnets of their art on the fridge and each kid got a tee-shirt (which means Moo now has her own and all of her older siblings’ tees as well.) They make nice gifts for Granny, too.
    We don’t buy school pictures. We take them to a portrait studio, where they are more than happy to photograph all four children, separately, for about $100 total. And they look GREAT!
    Yes, childhood is filled with disappointment when Billy has sold 1400 pizzas and he gets an iPad as a prize, when Susie’s parents ordered one of everything with HER artwork on it. But life is like that. And the following week, no one cares anymore about prizes, school pictures, coffee mugs, book fairs, candle/cookie dough/pizza/magazine sales, so why would I care, either? *end rant*

    • Ace goes to public school and sadly, that Catholic preschool was the best bargain we could find.

      It’s one thing to try to raise extra money, but the more I think about, the guilt they try to lay on us is ridiculous.

  3. Nagzilla says:

    I hear you, man. I keep telling my fundraising class that they need to figure out a way to do school fundraisers without making me buy a $25 tub of crappy cookie dough. Especially since I know that crappy dough is really only worth maybe $5, and of the $25 I’m spending, only $1.50 of it goes to the school. I think parents need to get together and say, “Look. Rather than spend $50 on shitty gift wrap and giving kids incentive prizes that take away from your profits, why don’t we each chip in $20 and be done with it. OK?”

    The way school fundraisers run, it reminds me of that scene from Vegas Vacation: “You don’t know when to quit, do ya Griswold?… Here’s an idea: Why don’t you give me half the money your were gonna to bet, then we’ll go out back, I’ll kick you in the nuts, and we’ll call it a day!”

    Ugh. This stuff makes me ranty. At least I only have two years left of it. Neener neener!

  4. rynolexson says:

    O man, the shit I have to look forward to!

    My kid rents books from her pre-school library and brings them home… where they get lost, never to be found again. So when the books are not returned on time, the preschool actually charges us for it. It’s gotten so ridiculous that I finally asked her teachers not to let my 3 year old take the books home. I felt like an ass asking, but then again, loaning things to a 3 year old is pretty stupid.

    So i guess i gotta start saving up for the years of post pre-school fees, eh? bummer…

  5. Fresh Ginger says:

    We were talking about this exact same this at my office yesterday. I appreciate teachers and schools but it burns me to no end to watch other money get wasted … just so I can be guilt-ed with the pizza/cookie/holiday crap catalog all year long. Really? The school district administrators make an nice six-figure take home salary plus bennies and I’m buying cookie dough to keep my kid from being the jerk at school who didn’t support “insert random fundraiser here?” Ugh. And, don’t get me started on school pictures. What a rip off.

  6. I soooo wish I would have bought more of that stuff with their art on it. But I remember what you are feeling so well. I have a few coffee cups and I’m afraid to use them in case I break one. That’s how much you’ll cherish that stuff when they are in high school. Sorry not what you wanted to hear.

  7. ardenrr says:

    Ugh, the worst for me is when the kids park their little asses in front of my local grocery store or Target and try to berate me into buying their shitty popcorn that’s five years old (this happened yesterday). I feel like such a douche for not buying something but I get over it….

  8. The Cutter says:

    I’m already starting to feel the pull,and my child is only in preschool. It’s only gonna get worse, huh?

  9. Aussa Lorens says:

    That is nuts– fundraising for a 4 year old? This seems like a really terrible business practice and kind of embarassing. Aren’t parents busy enough without having to sell stuff for their kids school– which you already have to pay for?! This is weird to me. I think they’re just taking advantage of the kids’ desire not to “lose” or be different and then the parent’s guilt over not being as ideal as the other parents.

    Obviously I’m going to be the crankiest parent ever. No, I’ll probably break down and be selling Christmas wrapping paper at the office in June. We’ll see.

  10. dentaleggs says:

    HAHAHAHAHA! I laugh now but I won’t be tomorow when I have to pick up my daughter’s ‘Mixed-Bag’ fundraising purchases to hand out.

  11. My God, I love Teddy more and more. He only costs me $60/month due to his cat Celiac’s Disease (yep, cray cray lady here) and I don’t have to sell anything for him. Please put me down for three pizzas. I will give them to my dad as his birthday present tomorrow. Oh, and he doesn’t know your buddy and he doesn’t think he ever played against him but since he was a football player when they had crappy helmets he may have been best friends and just not remember…

  12. 👏👏👏👏 I feel your pain!! I hate fund raisers, I am on kids #3/4 out 4, I have ice water for blood you can not guilt me. I have also done private school with kids #1/2. I don’t mind giving money, for fields trips, school projects, things which are benefiting the students, etc. Or even when the local restaurants are having “bring your family during 5-8pm and we give 25% to your school”. Please DO NOT MAKE ME PEDDLE YOUR JUNK! Everyone hates it, I flat out refuse. In fact, I just bought $75 in (pop warner,type league) football tickets and wrote my name on them all, everyone including my self is sick of supporting my son, it’s his first year, he is only playing 4 plays a game, (his dad, non supportive, won’t go there) so I am tired of asking people to help! If anyone puts their kid, (there are some kick a** girls by the way in their league) in football do not wait until they are 10. My poor son is big, (not fat 90 percentile in height and weight), they go by weight, so he plays with the big kids, and again we fundraise for EVERYTHING there too, or you PAY, and you pay dearly. Sorry off my broke single mom fixed income soap box. 😔! Only because the stupid scholastic came home last night! This am, I am like really I can buy you the book at Costco! 😡!

  13. I feel your pain. We have the school fundraisers (which I never do), the Scouting fundraisers (I feel a lot of pressure to sell that popcorn), and the hockey fundraisers (which I have to help organize!)
    The school book-orders are the ones that kill me emotionally because my kids come home so excited wanting to buy this book, and this book, and this book…

    There are many reasons why I love summer, but the lack of fundraising is near the top of the list!

  14. Don, you nailed another one. We’re only two months into Kindergarten, so we haven’t had too much exposure yet. The thing we’ve seen that I hate most of all are the ones where you are supposed to appeal to the relatives that live in different places, who have their own kids and their own impoverished school districts to tend to. Our current school district is unimaginably rich compared to where I come from, and I won’t embarrass myself by appealing to folks who have nothing by comparison.

  15. Alecia says:

    I completely feel your pain! It seems like we are bombarded from the start of school until the end of October with buy this, sell that, picture day for fall, etc. It’s a mess. I know the schools need money. I see what the PTA does and now much they raise and what it is used for. However, I actually was asked to head up the fall PTA fundraising thing and I didn’t even want to order any of the cookie dough or christmas wrap. I’d much rather give a donation to the PTA and leave it at that and not have to sell crap to my family and friends. Next time I’m asked to head up the fundraiser, I’ll remember “just say NO”. The artwork one, we have that too and I know it’s hard to say no to their “wonderful works of art” at least I have until spring before that one happens.

  16. You are so right, Don! I was feeling so happy that my last child is a Senior in High School and that all the fundraising antics would cease, until my niece and nephew hit us up for Christmas candles! How could anyone resist Cool’s little face???

  17. flemily says:

    Oh I’m sooo with you on that stuff to sell, buy, etc. We have that artwork thing too — whatever you do, don’t order the pillowcase with the artwork on it. They use the WORST quality thread count (scratchy!) for that pillowcase. They may as well print the friggin’ picture on cardboard. And, I am still cracking up over here at your son’s photo with the caption – LOVE IT! I may have to borrow that idea for next time, although my youngest is in 4th grade, and he pretty much knows, we don’t do most of those fundraiser things. We may have been pushovers with kid 1 and 2, but once #3 comes along, it’s pretty much a guarantee, we are not buying or selling any more crap!

  18. markbialczak says:

    I wonder if my dad felt this way when he had to fork over half-a-buck or so each school year so I could get the Weekly Reader. Yeah, I know, I’m old … You know the fund-raising stuff is out of hand when more than half the people in the office are trying to sell to co-workers from the same brochures, even though they live in different school districts. The one fund-raiser that’s OK is the one where they peddle chocolate bars out of big box. Price: $1. And my wife is always happy when I bring one home to her and say the kids were selling again at my bowling league.

  19. christine says:

    I feel no guilt whatsoever saying no to school photos. (I have six kids, oldest in high school, and we have never purchased a single one. I buy the yearbook and get all the class photos and a shot of my child for $15.) That stuff with kids’ artwork? I’d say no in a heartbeat. I’m all for fundraising if it doesn’t mean selling a bunch of crap. There are plenty of ways to raise money by selling things people actually use, like gift cards. Or collect Box Tops and other “trash”. My kids are in Catholic school, too (one without tuition, to boot) and it just isn’t necessary to do all of that nonsense.

  20. canigetanotherbottleofwhine says:

    This post is awesome. Since I homeschool I haven’t had to deal with this crap yet, but we’re planning to put our 4yo in kindergarten next year. I’m one of those evil parents that never buys the Boy Scouts popcorn and the wrapping paper and chocolates. I’d rather just make a donation than have that crap in my house. I will buy Girl Scout cookies however. That’s crap that I love.

  21. mistyslaws says:

    I so hear you. My oldest just came home with his pack of pictures and in them he looks very . . . surprised I guess is the best word . . . to be having his picture taken. And they only send the one. No choices at all. When my kids were in daycare, a company would come in, take multiple shots, then send up the PROOFS to pick from and order packages with no pressure. I never realized how good we had it. Sigh.

  22. ksujulie says:

    I wish I would have read this back when Emma was in Kindergarten. I bought everything. I know better now. I have to pick and choose. I have no problem telling them “no thanks” because they’ll just hit me up next month.

  23. Maggie O'C says:

    I spent years running auctions for my kids schools. I’m so happy they are in high school and I ignore everything. You’ll get there someday. Until then, enjoy the cookie dough.

  24. Katie says:

    Now I feel bad for begging my mom to buy me so many books from the Scholastic book order… When I’m a parent, I think I’m going to have reputation for being one of those moms…

  25. This line made me LOL: “Um, Cool is four years old and is so easily distracted by bouncing balls or iPhone rings that his sales pitches are choppy and incoherent at best.” Love it and I agree with all this. Totally ridiculous. Yesterday, my daughter came home with a coupon book that we could purchase for $29 if we wanted to keep it. Umm. No thanks. I HATE school fundraising. The poor PTA presidents.

  26. Learning the hard way says:

    It was all mega boxes of assorted chocolate bars when my kids were at primary school and because everyone we knew in the area engaged in the same lazy form of fundraising, we would inevitably buy the entire box ourselves…twice a year, by two. That was a hell of a lot of calories and explains a lot about my ex-husbands borderline diabetes…but hey, it’s for the kids, right? Pffft!

  27. I Am Jasmine Kyle says:

    I don’t think your cheep I agree it’s getting out of hand. The school’s get paid for each student and where the money goes is anyone’s guess because they don’t make the spending reports public knowledge! I will say it is a known fact that there are MANY people who profit off public schools and I for one would like to understand how and who so I can send my anger and angst to a specific person and not the school in general! LOL

  28. I hate fundraising!! When I was President of the PTA (yes, that’s right … lazyass me was the Prez), it was a high priority that we turned fundraising on its head. We only did the grocery store loyalty card that ppl already had funneling $$ for us, box tops, and stuff like Wendy’s Night where going on a particular night would get us a % of the money. I wanted to find ways to make $$ for our programs that didn’t require extra spending or work for the parents … bc I was sick of it as a parent!

  29. Pleun says:

    How about copyright? They should pay Ace a commission for selling her art work! At my school they did cake-sales, garage sales etc. Nothing more than that and a great opportunity to get rid of your junk. Those were the days 😉

  30. Daile says:

    Cool’s face?? I have $140 – where do I sign? I couldn’t resist a face like that! But I don’t want any frozen pizza or artwork on stuff. Maybe if it was frozen pizza artwork?… I think I’m on to something

  31. gimpet says:

    All that shit just sucks the brains right out of me, so I don’t even open it. And I suggest you do what I do, toss it and don’t even read. It saves a lot of stomach pain. My kids know not to even give it to me.

  32. findingninee says:

    Yeah. That stupid school shit gets me every time. I’m one who has a hard time with the photos in the dumpster. Asses!!!

  33. Christina says:

    I buy the cheapest packet of photos I can. One class and a 3×5. What’s worse than the photographer throwing the pictures of my kids away? Extended family putting them on their fridge for a week and then throwing them away.
    Having said that, I was on the PTO for a couple of years and the money we raised bout a couple of smart boards for the classrooms. I think in the end one big fundraising event is better than the bombardment of little crappy fundraisers.

  34. Man, I WISH I would gets something like that to buy. We sell cookie dough, which, honestly, I eat more than I should. Tell you what, I’ll send you some pictures of my kids, you let me know when those come along again, and I’ll print my kids on whatever it is.

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