Seconds after I picked them up from school Wednesday afternoon, the kids exclaimed almost in unison “Daddy, there’s a fund raiser at Barnes & Noble tomorrow night!” I thought “again?” But my frustration with the frequency of the fund raisers is trumped by my confusion as to why the funds are being raised in the first place. My God! Is someone running for office?
I have thought my way out of many corners, but when it comes to these school-related, well, things that get the kids all worked up, I’m woefully out of my league, flat-out flummoxed. Tonight, I learned that I am not alone.
I drove the kids to a space in the Barnes & Noble parking lot. Before the doors could close on the minivan, they were sprinting to the store. Once inside, almost immediately, they encountered friends and classmates. For the moment, “Daddy” became as distant a memory to them as their first pacifiers.
It was bedlam. Kids were running this way and that, heedless of the boundaries to the children’s section of the store. A glance in that direction revealed a concentration of people who occasionally burst into applause. Many held up phones aimed at a small stage. Apparently, recitals or readings of some type were taking place.
As I attend more of these things, faces are becoming familiar. In the past, I would have said nothing, but I’ve begun to chat people up. I have no choice. If I don’t start asking questions, I will spend the next ten years chucking up cash at these things simply because it seems to be what’s done around here.
I spotted one neighbor who looked at least as impatient with the whole affair as I, but a bit more certain of his role. I braced him: “What are they doing here?”
“Some kids are up there reading,” he replied.
“Your kid reading?” I asked.
“Yeah. She’s already done.”
Just then, a pair of women walked up to us, one of whom demanded of my acquaintance whether he had seen his daughter read. He replied jocularly that he had not, but he would be sure to do so at the next opportunity. His interrogator good-naturedly admonished that he would have some explaining to do later. The ladies walked off, and as they did, he said to me “they only bring me to pay for dinner, anyway. That’s what I’m good for.” I chuckled and shook my head. No mathematical equation could be a greater truth.
As my kids placed their books of choice on the checkout counter, I noticed a registration desk near the exit. It was attended by one of my son’s former teachers and some other ladies. Considering that the event was shutting down, I couldn’t work out why they were still there. After purchasing the books, was I supposed to make a donation as well? By that point, it mattered not a jot. My patience was shot and I wasn’t about to go for the okey-doke twice in the same night.
I want to congratulate the organizers of the event: They managed to raise my blood pressure in direct proportion to those daggone funds!