I was venting the other day with my neighbor over a warm Chardonnay.
"Can you believe they're trying to guilt us into donating by saying the average family gives $342 a year to the district wide fundraiser! That doesn't even include all the other fundraisers!" I huffed, maybe even snorted, no doubt wearing a sour-pussed expression, awaiting my friend's commiseration.
"I guess that means you won't be buying any Boy Scout popcorn?" she quipped, faster than a flea could jump, one eye raised ala Spock in da house of suburban judgment.
I wasn't about to get all competitive mommy.
So I stuck out my hand for a shake... hoping to forge a mutual fundraising détente.
"And, I promise not to send my eldest daughter your way next week with the Entertainment Books her choir class is selling this week!" I said, thinking my neighbor -- who has been unemployed for over a year -- would have been thrilled.
Even though she had once confided that before losing her job she had bought $600 worth of her son's Boy Scout popcorn. He ended up winning the first place prize: a toy gun whose retail value was probably $20 at Walmart.
Maybe I should have spit on my palm first before we shook to seal the deal.
Because a week later guess who was at my door in full Boy Scout regalia, his plastic Radio Flyer filled to the gills with Boy Scout popcorn.
Of course we bought a bag -- I'm not a complete fundraiser scrooge!
It's the year 2014, and maybe it's just me, but shouldn't there be a better way to raise money for schools than students and parents pressured into hitting up family, friends, neighbors, colleagues and everyone in our social network for overpriced goods most of them don't even want.
I believe every child deserves a great education.
But some days it feels like I'm Teddy Roosevelt, stuck in one of those political cartoons doing battle with a grotesque Titan of Industry shaking the little guy until every last nickel has fallen from her lint filled pockets.
Just the other day my daughter was headed out the door to go, "ask people for money" in the neighborhood.
"I told my teacher I wanted to take out the middle man," she explained. "The Entertainment Book people are getting half our profits and not doing anything!" she said.
"You can't just go knock on people's doors and ask them to give you cash," I said, horrified.
"Mom, please, can you just give me the $40 dollars? You don't know what it's like to sit in class as we tally up how much money people have collected." Her expression, was that of a lost child kicked to the curb mumbling, "More soup, please."
The $40 was for the choir fundraiser. We took a stand against sending her out trolling the neighborhood hawking Entertainment Books.
I know the fundraisers raise much needed money for school that benefit my own children...But Jeez-Louise!
Since the beginning of the school year there have been: two car washes, two bake sales, Otis Spunkmeyer cookie dough, a textile drive, Entertainment Book, Box Tops, Jog-a-thon, and a district wide fundraiser where high school kids, as savvy as politicians, call your house every night for a week for donations.
So I arrived at a conundrum the other day after I volunteered to make Elmer's Glue slime for Halloween in my son's first grade class.
It's ironic because as I've mentioned I feel totally resentful when I'm expected to support all these fundraiser's and yet am excited at the prospect of forking over $40 bucks to procure 22 bottles of glue for my son's class.
There was a little hiccup, however, when I discovered it wasn't just my son's class but ALL four of the first grades would be making slime with me... so 96 first graders.
My son's teacher suggested a "glueraiser."
Karma's a real b!tch.
After talking smack about fundraisers there was no way I was tapping the other parentals for money.
I decided to go to the source of all that is white and sticky since 1947... Elmer's Glue.
"Perhaps they had some spare glue lying around?" I asked.
Within three days six gallons of Elmer's Glue were UPS'd to my door... gratis.
I didn't have to explain to the Elmer's Glue people how these hands on, low cost, simple arts and crafts activities are things I love to do with my own family.
I didn't have to give a sob story about how I can still remember making slime at school when I was a kid.
Or justify the request with a proposal filled with spreadsheets documenting how important arts and crafts are for kids. As it turns out Elmer's Glue has done their own study and already knows how important doing simple crafts with kids is.
All of which is clearly evident when you see the smiles, peals of laughter and the "oohing" and "ahhing" of 96 first graders.
When I think of all the successful companies making millions, even billions of dollars in America it seems reasonable that they would want to participate in the education of the next generation... who are also future consumers.
It's going to take more than arts and crafts to fix funding education in America. But the constant barrage of fundraisers isn't fixing the problem either. All I know for sure is, thank you, Elmer's Glue, (and other companies), for stepping up and supporting education for education's sake.
If you're looking for an official Elmer's slime recipe, you can find all the details here.