In support of parents who promote their kids’ fundraisers

A Facebook acquaintance posted a little rant about people who help their kids meet fundraising obligations for school and other activities. She is opposed to parents who solicit support for these fundraisers by posting them on Facebook or taking order forms and pledge sheets to work. This acquaintance was a high school classmate of mine, though we were never actually friends. I’m not sure why we became Facebook friends except that it was probably due to our twenty-five year high school reunion a couple of years ago. Many of the classmates were connecting as we looked forward to the reunion.

As my former classmate remembers it, when she was a Campfire Girl, she sold all of her own candy. When she was a Girl Scout, she sold all of her own cookies. When we were students at our Catholic high school and every student was required to sell hundreds of dollars in raffle tickets each fall or else suffer the punishment of not being allowed to attend any extra curricular activities for the school year, she sold all of her own raffle tickets. As she tells it, our generation’s parents never took our fundraising materials to work or made other efforts to raise the funds for their kids. I’m not so sure. Although my parents let us kids do most of the work, I’m quite sure they were willing to lend a helping hand whenever possible.

This rant came from the same person who once posted a status update wondering why “everyone” wants to be her Facebook friend now and reminding us all that she is just as “amazing and cool” as she was in high school, even if we didn’t all know it back then. I didn’t give much thought to her words at the time. Having been one who did not feel “amazing and cool” in high school, I felt that I understood her feelings, even if I didn’t agree with how she expressed them. But my former classmate’s current rant struck a nerve with me. That may be because I had just posted a link on my own Facebook page to my daughter’s Polar Bear Plunge pledge site. My daughter, at nineteen, is perfectly capable of soliciting pledges for her chosen charity and she is doing so. Why did I post her pledge link on my Facebook page? It’s not that I really expected much to come of it, but I am connected with more people who actually have money. If my posting boosted support for Kacey, it couldn’t hurt. And I’m proud of her. I wanted to brag her up a bit. But my acquaintance’s rant made me second guess myself for posting the link.

In all reality, the rant probably wasn’t directed at me. My guess is that the ranter has simply witnessed one too many status updates from a parent promoting their kid’s fundraiser. But what was the goal of her words? If it was to shame those who she sees as offenders, based on my reaction, I’m quite sure she accomplished her goal.

I don’t say a whole lot on Facebook. I read the words of others. I “like” them sometimes and I’ll occasionally leave a comment. But Facebook is a fickle arena. Most Facebook members eventually end up with a wide and varied audience. No matter what you say, someone might take offense. And I’m definitely not a fan of using Facebook to say things you wouldn’t say face to face. Maybe that’s why the rant just didn’t sit right with me. Would my acquaintance really express those same feelings if approached in person to support a fundraiser? Or would she politely decline and keep her criticisms to herself?

I’m not up for getting into an argument on Facebook. If I were, I would have stated my opinion. I support parents who support their kids’ fundraisers. The way I see it, just as our parents walked three miles to and from school, uphill, in the snow, both ways, our generation went door-to-door , all by ourselves and did all of our own fundraising without the help of our parents. In both cases, times have changed. When I was a kid, I could take off on my bicycle for a good portion of the day without my mom even knowing where I was or having to worry. What worked back then doesn’t necessarily work now.

Today’s parents have safety concerns that our parents might never have imagined. Today we know that children can be stolen away from us. Today we know that young kids simply shouldn’t be out on their own, knocking on the doors of strangers in order to support their schools and activities. Today’s kids have more fundraising obligations than ever. Most of them have multiple fundraisers not only to support their schools, but their dance teams, sports teams, scout groups and a plethora of other activities. And is it really the kids who insist on being involved in all of these activities? Or do we, the parents push them into all of this busyness?

And even if a kid were to go door-to-door today, how many people would actually answer the door? It’s not like it used to be, when it was common for there to be one parent at home at any given time. In most families these days, all of the adults work. No one is home anymore!

The kids in my neighborhood are mostly grown up. Rarely does anyone comes knocking on my door to sell anything these days. So when my wallet allows it, I will gladly support the fundraisers that my working-parent coworkers promote on behalf of their kids. I don’t know my coworker, Bob’s daughter, but I know Bob and I like him. There are pictures of his kids all over his office. That tells me he loves his kids and that makes me want to support them.

Fundraising has come a long way, too. Most of the fundraisers today are selling good stuff. The high school athletes sell cards that can be used at area businesses, repeatedly, for a full year. I can get one Dairy Queen treat for free when I purchase another. I can get money off the cost of gas at the local gas station, every single time I fill up the tank. Mark and I can enjoy two dinners at our favorite local restaurant for the price of one!

cookie doughThe volleyball teams sell frozen cookie dough that can’t be found outside of a fundraiser. I would give my left arm for some of that cookie dough right now. If you’re selling frozen cookie dough, come see me. I’ll buy from you! There’s a local pizza restaurant that is widely known for their delicious pizza. These pizzas are now available in frozen form and are a popular fundraiser. Bob’s daughter is selling pizzas. I’d be seriously disappointed if I found out someone had these pizzas for sale and didn’t ask me if I wanted some. And have you ever tasted one of those World’s Finest chocolate bars? I will never say no to those!

I guess my point is that how much or how little anyone supports fundraisers is completely up to them. No one is truly obligated. I had no problem declining the offer to purchase a raffle ticket from a group of young soccer players last week. The adult who supervised them brought them to the bowling alley and let them interrupt the league bowlers with their sales pitch. The soccer girls were cute, but I didn’t appreciate the disruption to our games. They got plenty of other support anyway and seemed unfazed that I declined their offer. I didn’t feel the least bit guilty.

I would like to remind my Facebook acquaintance that she’s free to ignore any an all pleas for fundraising support. Her arrogant stance on the matter really isn’t going to fix her problem and might only serve to offend her “friends.” Instead, I wondered why I let her words eat away at me all day long. Each of us is entitled to our own opinions and I’m really not a fan of someone who first has to belittle others in order to express their opinion. Each of us has the power of choice when it comes to fundraising and, for that matter, when it comes to who we’re friends with on Facebook. I realized I’d already wasted far too much time mulling over the sharp words of a person with whom I would otherwise not be involved and trying to get those words to sit right with me. I exercised my power of choice. My “friends” list is now just a bit smaller.

Moonstruck

The moon was still up when I was leaving for work Thursday morning. That struck me as odd because it’s getting light again in the mornings. It’s one thing for the moon to still be hanging around when the day begins if the sky is still black, as it often is in the early morning hours of the winter. It’s always such a surprise to see it still perched in the sky at 7 a.m. when the sun has already risen.

It was such a beautiful sight. As I backed out of my driveway, I caught the glow through my neighbor’s tall trees. The moon was huge! It seemed such a shame to have to drive away and go about my normal business. I really wanted to just stop and take it in for a while, but work was calling and I had to go.

I’ve tried photographing it many times before when there’s been a dramatic appearance, but shooting the moon is a difficult thing to do. The camera doesn’t do it justice.  And a camera phone through my windshield at a stoplight really doesn’t do it justice.

I had another nice surprise yesterday morning. I have the Words with Friends app on my phone and at any given time, I’ve got at least five or six games going on with various friends or relatives. Since the app is connected to my Facebook account, I can also play with any Facebook friend who adds the app. Once in a while I’ll get a new request to play a game with one of those friends.

Yesterday I got a request from Becky. Becky has been my Facebook friend for a year or so, though neither of us is very active there, so we’ve not communicated much. I met Becky when I was sixteen when I got my first job at the local bakery. She was a year older than me and was old-hat at the bakery job. She trained me in and helped me out until I was old-hat too. I liked Becky. She was fun and full of life. We had a great time as coworkers but we never took our friendship outside of the workplace. We worked together for a couple of years until she graduated high school a year ahead of me and I never heard from her again until we connected on Facebook.

The bakery job was one of those experiences that has remained a fond memory in my mind. It was my first real job and unlike many of my friends who just endured their fast-food or restaurant or convenience store employment, I truly enjoyed my time at work. (Maybe except for the 5 a.m. Saturday start times!) It was a mom and pop kind of business and those of us who worked there became a close-knit group. I’m not sure what exactly it was about that experience, but it has always felt like something special. The bakery is no longer in its little storefront in the old strip mall where I worked. The owners, my bosses, were the daughter and son-in-law of the original owners. They’ve since taken their business on to bigger and better things. Their new location is much bigger, with a cafe and seating area for customers. They’ve become local celebrities, well-known for their delicious cakes.

When I first connected with Becky on Facebook last year, she mentioned that she was thinking about organizing a bakery reunion for those of us who worked together in the early eighties. I confirmed my interest, but nothing more came of it and I haven’t heard from Becky since. Then came the invitation to play Words with Friends yesterday. The game offers the option to exchange messages with one another and soon Becky and I were chatting away like old, comfortable friends. The idea of the bakery reunion came up again. I got all kinds of excited. How fun would it be to reconnect with everyone from back then? We were all just taking our first steps into lives of our own then. The only one of those coworkers with whom I’ve remained in touch is my best friend from high school, Kendra. I’d love to reconnect with everyone else and see where their lives took them.

I’m not letting this be an idea that sounds great but slips away again. This time I told Becky I’d catch up with her on Facebook and help make sure it happens.

So far this week…

I got an awesome new winter jacket. It’s a black Columbia, down filled with a fur-trimmed hood. And I got it for a steal, about a third of the original price. I generally tend to dislike everything about this time of year. Winter seems to have dragged on forever. But the shopping is great!

I lost my black leather gloves. I remember wearing them home from work last Friday, running in the house, taking them off and grabbing my camera from the family room. I wanted to get outside and take a picture of the beautiful full moon before full darkness settled in. And that was the last I saw of my gloves. I looked high and low. I retraced my steps. I could not find them. I was so sad. I need my gloves! I can’t drive with mittens on my hands. I was sure Mark had taken them and stashed them somewhere. (He likes to hide things when people don’t put stuff back where it belongs. He thinks this teaches a lesson! Really, it just makes us good search and rescue detectives. And half the time he forgets where he put it. The t.v. remote was missing for a couple months. He finally found it between our mattress and box spring.) Last night I grabbed my gym bag and was searching the bottom of it for my mp3 player when my hand felt something smooth and soft. It was my black leather gloves! (Sorry, Mark!)

I pulled a muscle in my lower back doing crunches on the exercise ball and as a result, it hurt to throw my bowling ball on Monday. As a result, my scores were mediocre. I must have a really weak lower back. Anyone know what I can do to gain strength down there?

I finished reading Valley of the Dolls yesterday. It was like a soap opera. I was like, “Oh yes! Oh no! Oh YES! Oh NO! OH YES! OH NO! Ah, yes…… WHAT???” I hated the ending. This is the second book I’ve read where I absolutely couldn’t put it down, then hate the ending.  Just like The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. So frustrating!

I still want to see the movie, Valley of the Dolls.

I had a really good run on the treadmill last night. It helps that I could watch Law and Order while I ran. I’m still working hard at going to the gym consistently and am getting there almost every other day. And I really kind of like the treadmill. I like watching my progress, knowing how far I’ve run and trying to push past my limits. I can feel myself gaining strength and stamina. But the gym is always crowded these days. When are the New Year’s Resolutioners going to start dropping off? The people watching is good though. Last Saturday I saw a guy at the racquet ball courts. He had jet black hair, shoulder length, and totally combed over. I wonder if he thinks he’s fooling anyone? Last night, there was a woman on a treadmill near me, facing backwards on it and walking very, very slowly. I’ve never seen anyone do that before! Last week I ran into the deacon from my church at the gym. First he friended me on Facebook (and he’s always on there!) Then I run into him at the gym and he wants to stop and chat. He didn’t mention not seeing me in church lately, so I guess it’s all good, just a little strange.

La Vida es Buena! November 6, 2009

Brad & Jake HuntingAND we’ve found our way to Friday once again!

It’s been a good week…

Monday began with a smile as I opened up my email at work and saw a message there from our good friend, Paul, along with a picture that he had attached. My boys had been hunting with him the previous weekend and he managed to capture a rare moment on camera – my two boys, standing together and appearing as if they actually like each other. There are very few such pictures in existence, so this was a treasured gift. I may have to frame it in spite of the presence of dead animals in the picture.

Wednesday brought an opportunity to spend time with the two best girlfriends I’ve ever had. Gina, Kendra and I met at the bowling alley. (I know, I know. The bowling alley. Big surprise, right?) After Kendra finished her league games, the three of us bowled a few games just for fun, then went into the bar to find a table and just talk, since we couldn’t seem to keep the game going for all of our gabbing. That night, I realized how lucky I am to have such amazing friends. Gina has been there for me for over twenty years. She knows me and gets me in a way most people don’t. Kendra is the person who filled those same shoes in an earlier part of my life. We kind of forgot how important we were to each other for a few years and I feel extremely blessed to have been given a chance to renew that friendship. And as the evening wore on, I realized that Gina and Kendra seemed to like each other just as much as I like each of them. How cool is that?

Speaking of long-lost friends, Facebook brought me another blast from the past. Becky is a coworker from the bakery where I worked during my teenage years. The bakery was a family owned place, and those of us who worked there were sort of like a little family. We have such good memories and so many stories from that place. (Suffice it to say that when the owners left teenage girls in charge of the place for the evening, there were plenty of antics.) Kendra was one of my coworkers there and so was Marilee, who now lives just a few miles from me and whose daughter is one of Kacey’s best friends. I haven’t seen or heard from Becky since she left her bakery career to go to college. She contacted me on Facebook yesterday and said she was trying to organize a little reunion of all of the people who worked at the bakery during our years there and wanted to know if  I would be interested. I responded something to the effect of, “BECKY! OMG! HOW ARE YOU! IT’S BEEN FOREVER! WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN UP TO? AND OF COURSE I’M INTERESTED!” And soon, we were walking down memory lane, catching up on each other’s lives and promising to stay in touch from now on.

And finally,  I’ve been thinking this week about how much I love my daughter and how lucky I am to have her. I was talking with a coworker this week about daughters; particularly teenage daughters. They are famous for causing their parents much angst and frustration. But Kacey isn’t your typical teenage girl. She’s so easy-going and yet so responsible. She’s an excellent student and she has a great sense of humor. She’s a good person and likes almost everyone. She talks to me with ease (and often in Spanish, just to keep me guessing.) I am blessed to have such a great relationship with her. I know not all parents are so lucky. I love that kid.

La vida es buena!

Reconnecting

Way back in my high school days, I had a friend named Kendra. We met in an art class on our first day of high school and it wasn’t long before we became inseparable. We remained that way throughout all four of our high school years. Wherever one of us was, the other was sure to be too.

Kendra and I were so close that on any given day, one of us was eating dinner at the other’s house. There were countless sleepovers. We held part-time jobs at the same bakery. We attended all of the school social functions together. We went on double dates. We were the best of friends.

We stayed connected for several years after we graduated from high school, but somewhere along the way, our lives took very different paths. I married young and soon was busy with my babies. Kendra had a serious boyfriend, and moved in with him, actually living just a few miles down the road from me for several years. And although she was with that boyfriend for many years, they never married or had children. While I was busy with the demands of being a mother to three young children, Kendra was still living a life of her own with many more freedoms than I had at the time. Our phone calls and visits grew fewer and fewer.

Eventually, there was a messy break-up for Kendra and her boyfriend. They had been together for eleven years. I remember getting the phone call when she described what had happened and felt bad that I hadn’t been close enough to her in recent years to be there for her when she was going through such a difficult time. Kendra moved into her own place not long after that call and our separation became more pronounced. There were a handful of phone calls in the years that followed, and a lot of regret on my part for a friendship that seemed to have dissolved.

As my children have grown older and I began to find that I have more time available for myself, I have often thought about reaching out to Kendra and reconnecting with her. A Christmas card a couple of years ago told me that she had met the love of her life and married him in Hawaii. But I had no phone number for her and she appeared to be unlisted. I thought I might eventually contact her parents to get her phone number. I just never seemed to get around to it. I’ve thought of her more and more over the last couple of years.

Fast forward to about two weeks ago. A glance at my email showed a Facebook notification with a friend request from…you guessed it…KENDRA! I accepted, then sent her a message telling her I had tried to find her there too, but was unsuccessful. She replied that she had just joined Facebook and that was likely why I couldn’t find her. She now lives about forty minutes away from me. In fact, for the past several years, she has never really lived so far away that we couldn’t have seen each other if either of us had reached out to the other. We were just so busy in our own separate lives that we never made it happen.

For the past couple of weeks, Kendra and I have begun to reconnect. We’re finding we still have things in common. She’s a runner too. We’ve exchanged a handful of messages and have both stated on more than one occasion that we need to get together again. It always brings about a bittersweet feeling; one that reminds me that for all of these years, we have been so close, yet so far apart. That feeling was reinforced on Friday night. I was enjoying a lazy evening and browsing around on Facebook and thought I’d pop over to Kendra’s page. There, I saw her status update written the previous Wednesday. It said, “Off to my first night of league bowling at Mattie’s…Wish me luck!”

And I said to myself, “Kendra bowls in a league, just like me.!”

But the fact that Kendra bowls on a league too wasn’t what struck me as so amazing. The amazing part of that realization was the fact that Kendra bowls in a league at Mattie’s.

I bowl at Mattie’s!

Kendra bowls at Mattie’s…and has been for the past five years. I’ve been bowling at Mattie’s for the past year and can be found there at least once or twice a week. And our paths have never crossed! Of course, I bowl on Mondays and she bowls on Wednesdays, so I guess it stands to reason. And even if I had been there on a Wednesday when she was bowling, I probably wouldn’t have noticed because I would never have expected her to be there.

I posted a message on Kendra’s page on Friday letting her know that we both bowl at the same place. Being that it was a Friday night, I didn’t expect a response from her. Imagine my surprise when the instant messenger opened and there was Kendra. We chatted for about forty-five minutes and the first thing I did was tell her that now that I know I can find her at Mattie’s, every other Wednesday, I am definitely going to make it a point to be there when she is so we can finally catch up again!

We went on to catch up on all of the kinds of things that need to be caught up on when two people have gone years without connecting. We talked about parents and siblings and jobs and kids. (She now has a step-son.) I suddenly missed Kendra’s family, the people who had been such an integral part of my life during those high school years. Kendra didn’t always get along so well with her dad, but he really liked me for some reason. I never called him Mr. (Kendra’s dad.) I just called him Dad. And he called me Terri Mary Berry Cherry. What a weird name. But it always gave me a warm feeling to be greeted that way whenever I showed up at Kendra’s house.

I can’t believe it. I’m back in touch with Kendra. God I’ve missed her! And to think I resisted Facebook for so long!