Once a week and often times more, I receive a paper in Carissa’s folder regarding another fair, fundraiser, book order, school t-shirt or hoodie, another item for class, etc….it’s never ending. Last year there was a sign-up sheet to bring items for different projects and since I was new to this whole school thing I signed up for every one that came out. “Sure, put me down for a bag of beans AND a bag of marshmallows.” “ME! I’ll make fuzzies for the kids!!” (Talk about a kiss ass, right?) Of course I didn’t realize it would be an ongoing project for me every week for the entire school year AND the materials would be out of pocket because I felt bad taking it out of their already small classroom budget.
Around the January mark I started to sign-up for every OTHER one and by the end of the year I just reasoned with myself saying, “Heck no! I make the fuzzies. Let someone else bring the plates and napkins!” Yes, I got bitter for no one to blame other than myself. No wonder the parents from the class that also had older kids didn’t sign up for jack; it’s because they’ve been there done that already and learned their lesson.
That’s where I’m at this year. Every time you turn around there’s another $5 or $10 you are asked to shell out. Carissa came up to me on Tuesday and asked why she didn’t get a ‘Field Day’ t-shirt and how she was “the only one” who didn’t get one. “First of all I find it hard to believe that you were the only one. Second, I’m not going to spend $10 on something you’ll wear for one day. I didn’t get one for you last year, not getting you one this year and chances are I won’t be buying one next year either.” Harsh, I know, but that answer suited her just fine because she knew I was not budging.
I do know that some parents wouldn’t want their child singled out by not having the same shirt as everyone else, but I say there is no better lesson to my children to teach them that I’m not that parent. In a couple of years I can’t wait to share my, “I walked to school uphill in the snow both ways,” story. Mine is a tad worse, I think. In high school, due to our financial situation we could barely meet our needs much less make a purchase that was not absolutely necessary. I had Payless XJ900’s tennis shoes that were losing traction and during my first volleyball practice as I was slipping and sliding all over the place, my coach mentioned the school issued shoes to me. Oh yeah, I’m dead serious. They were our school colors, orange and white (not obvious right?) with a dirty grey look due to wear and tear. But I knew my mom could not afford new shoes for me, nor did I want to make her feel bad, so I didn’t beg her to spare me the embarrassment; I got sized and never even mentioned it to her.
Since Tom was raised by a single father who was a construction worker, we thankfully both have the same mentality of the value of money and are tight wads. We spend only what is within our means and yes, $10 for a Field Day t-shirt is something we can afford, but just because we can doesn’t mean we should. At the dinner table we told her that there are millions of people that work really hard for way less than $10 per hour to feed their whole families. The people that do the lawns next door in the morning probably make less than that and they they don’t stop the entire hour and they work for 8 of them. Tom mentioned she could pick the weeds out back (that’s well over an hour job) and show her what is $10 worth of work. Nah, how about we just say, “No,” for now and save those opportunities when she’s actually going to do the job right.
So after only a year and a half in this world of education, I’m already burned out with the spending and realizing if it’s not one thing, it’s another so the word “No” needs to happen way more often so we don’t go broke!