Beware the Stuffed Frog Bearing Catalogs

25 09 2008

Here’s a snippet of last night’s dinner conversation:

Me: So, what did you do at school today?

Neener: We had an assembly.

Me: Ooooo, an assembly! What about?

Neener: Prizes.

Me: What kind of prizes?

Roo: Skateboards.

Neener: And stuffed frogs that have big arms that hug around your neck. One hugged the principal.

Me: Wow, skateboards and huggy frogs. How do you get the prizes?

Stunned silence. No idea. But it was starting to dawn on me. Hmmm let’s see, it’s three months before Christmas…assembly…prizes…principal allowing herself to be accosted by a stuffed frog in front of the entire school…wait a garbage pickin’ minute, I know what’s going on here!

Me, to Mr. (Yes, he’s still alive, even after that blog hijacking stunt he pulled) Honey, pass me their backpacks. Now.

And sure enough, there it was. A Sunsweet “Home for the Holidays” catalog, featuring “a wonderful and unique selection of over 100 value priced gift-giving items.” Or so said the gut-wrenching letter from the principal, begging us, Dear Parents, to buy some stuff. You could practically feel the frog-hug induced Post Traumatic Stress in the way she signed off. Thanks again, and happy shopping. She wanted to say hoppy shopping, I just know it.

And I probably would buy some stuff, if only to save the principal from further amphibious hug humiliation, except for one thing: The catalog is full of cheaply made, over priced, useless crap, which we and everyone we know, already has plenty of. I won’t get into my Holiday harangue just yet, but suffice to say that this year, we’re cracking down on the amount of cheap useless crap the Blister family gives and gets for Christmas. So, no one will be getting a $17 spoon rest, or a $12 spaghetti gauge and noodle hook. No Guardian Angel Dog Tag, no Salad Spice Collection Packaged in a Holiday Tin, no Set of 4 Celebration Cake Stencils, and no Lil’ Powerhouse 5 Piece Gift Set Assortment. No bags of Fragranced Decorative Rocks. At least not from us. You’ll all be getting nice pictures of the Blister Sisters like you did last year. Or if time, budget, and sanctimoniousness allow, some chickens, penicillin, and olive trees for kids in third world countries.

But since we won’t be trying to unload Sunsweet junk on our family and friends, Neener and Roo will not, much to their chagrins, be in the running for the “prizes” promoted in the “Prize Mania!” catalog that accompanied the principal’s frantic letter, the money envelope, the triplicated order form, and the big book o’ junk. They will not “Sell $10, Earn Prize A,” a crummy buckle bracelet festooned with smiley faces. And that is fine, since Roo is terrified of smiley faces. I might have to keep her home on “Prize Mania!” prize distribution day though, because every kid who’s parents did get sucked in by the Home for the Holidays catalog will be sporting a smiley face buckle bracelet that day. There will be no “Sell $200, Earn Prize A to D Plus Prize E,” which would yield a Smiley Face buckle bracelet, a Laser Finger Beam, a Smiley Face Stretch Key Chain, a Puff Caterpillar and a 4 pack of Jumbo Pens. Total prize package value? Ohhh, I’m gonna guess about 5 bucks. The hideous carnival-prize quality, principal-hugging 20 inch Plush Frog requires $526 in sales. And the skateboard? The cheap, ugly, obviously hazardous skateboard? A kid would need to sell $750 worth of Sunsweet crap to get their hands on that. That’s 40 bags of Smelly Rocks and 4 pieces of angel-shaped Dog Jewelery! How is a kid supposed to con their family members into spending that much money on that much junk just so she can get a $20 skateboard? It’s not like they can go door-to-door they way we did in the old days. The “Prize Mania!” catalog strictly prohibits door-to-door sales, talking to strangers, and carrying large sums of cash. I’m sure the assembly also included a further explanation of sales and safety tactics, but thankfully, my kids were too dazzled by the lecherous frog and the made-in-China-by-a-three-year-old skateboard to really absorb much in the way of training.

I understand that the school gets a 45% cut of everything sold. And I understand that schools need to fundraise in order to pay for things like special trips, books, heat, and lights. But I really resent my kids being sent out to shill for a big company that distributes crappy stuff, and being lured into doing so by “prizes” of even crappier stuff. And I resent that I feel guilty about not supporting the school because I refuse to participate in this nonsense. So, naturally, I have a plan. If Neener and Roo decide they need a few pieces of shoddy merchandise that can masquerade as prizes, they can crack open their own piggy banks and blow a fiver at the Dollar store. They’ll probably come out with better stuff than what they saw in the “Prize Mania!” catalog. And instead of buying or selling stuff for Sunsweet so the school can salvage 45% of the profits, we’ll just give the school a donation, of which they can put 100% towards new basketball pinnies, or pencil sharpeners, or flushable toilets. Maybe more parents should do the same. Maybe if we all got together and just gave the school a donation, or pitched in on a proper school fundraiser , we could avoid turning our kids into a pint-sized sales force willing to work for pitiful “prizes.” Maybe my kids’ backpacks wouldn’t be crammed with suspicious catalogs, and their gym class wouldn’t have to be usurped by suspicious assemblies. And maybe, just maybe, no principal would ever have to send home desperate, pleading, guilt-inducing letters, or be publically molested by a stuffed frog, ever again.




7 responses

25 09 2008

Yeah Blister. I know exactly whereof you speak.But on the other hand I know very well that the fund raising is necessary to do those little extra things that can give a school the freedom to do many little fun things for the kids. So I too will make a donation. Watch the mail !
love , nanny

25 09 2008

Bravo, a fantastic end to the swindle of crappy stuff, by the way most of which ends up in a bin in the closet until the kid is too old and forgot it anyway, then we donate it to goodwill for another kid to buy and foget they have it. Wait until the scholastic bookfolder comes home, gawd, it is full of crappy electronic shit and video games, only 79.95, but wait then a coupon book is coming home and each kid only gets one, its’ 50 freaking bucks.
Love ya

25 09 2008

I rebelled against the big dumb coupon books last year by just giving the school money and buying freezies for all the kids in line at the freezie sale. And yeah, book orders full of video games and assorted other garbage! WTF?

26 09 2008

Wait until they have a buy one, get one free . they are the best book sales. you can get some great books there!

26 09 2008

Not book sales, silly. The book order flyers they send home each month.

29 09 2008

Are you arguing with your mom in your blog?! (-; Ah, technology. Sometimes my husband and I email each other while we’re at home.

Yup, my guy has Scholastic and magazine fundraising via school and “speciality popcorn” sales via Beavers. Already. It’s not even a month into school and only 2 sessions into Beavs. Sheesh.

5 10 2008

Of course I argue with my Mom via my blog ! It’s the only way I get a word in edgewise! 😉

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