You know it’s kind of funny. When we moved to Arizona one of the big things that everyone told us was how great the school systems were and that we would be amazed at the level of education that our kids would receive. And the best part was that it was free! Wow, free school I bet that is what every kid dreams of. Why couldn’t it be free cotton candy or free baseball tickets now that would be something you could get kids excited about. But free school, I don’t think so. With the exception of my bookworm daughter there is probably not another kid on the planet who would be jumping for joy if you told them they could have all the school they wanted and it would not cost them a penny. I have to admit though I feel a little bit like a victim of a snake oil salesman. That’s not to say I don’t think my kids have gotten a good education; quite the contrary I think they have become educated well beyond my expectations. I thoroughly believed one daughter was destined to be a mainstay in the expedited food industry and now she is two semesters away from a college education majoring in a foreign language (which by the way I remind her that the foreign language would serve her well at any of the fast-food establishments immediately vaulting her to the level of assistant to the assistant manager). No, I have no qualms with the Arizona education system but I do have to take issue with the term “free education”.
I can always tell when the kids are back in school. Beginning in August and lasting through May there is not a month that does not go by that we are not involved in some sort of fund raiser. The kids are asked to peddle door-to-door anything from cookie dough to wrapping paper to assorted meat products. There are times that I wonder whether I am sending my kids to school to learn to read and write or if I have sent them to trade school to become encyclopedia salesman which by the way is a profession that has gone the way of the dinosaur since the invention of the Internet. Not to get too side tracked but why do we have groups formed to protect spotted owls from extinction but we have no one who is even remotely interested in saving the encyclopedia salesman from becoming a dying breed? That’s the kind of stuff that makes me lay awake at night staring at the ceiling (at least until Spring Training starts).
The latest in the fund raising parade is the raising of funds for something to do with graduation for high school where the kids have been asked to help the school raise money to cover the high costs of graduation. No one has to remind me of the high cost of graduation. I just spent over $350 on senior photos just days after spending $150 for a neon yellow cap and gown and another $100 to announce that my daughter is indeed graduating. Now I can add the price of a ham or two or three to that cost as well. Because there is nothing that says “I am educated” quite like a spiral-cut pork product. Anyway, as I was getting the latest sales pitch from my daughter who is becoming quite a polished salesperson a light bulb went off in my head. I don’t know why but when that happens I always look around and ask anyone who is standing near me if actual rays of light came out of my nose. That in itself is an interesting conversation ice breaker. Think about it, if you want to make an impression at a party go up to a complete stranger and start talking to them. When you get an epiphany ask the stranger if light came out your nose. I guarantee they will not forget who you are. You may never get invited to another one of their parties but they will definitely remember you.
Anyway, getting back to my own epiphany I had this brilliant thought. You know how I have been wanting to go to Fantasy Camp? Well one of Trina’s arguments has always been that with our kids now reaching college age, education is no longer free (which almost always leads to the exact discussion we are just having about how our kids education has never been free) and therefore we needed the money that could have been earmarked for Fantasy Camp to send our kids to school. That is so messed up. It’s not like I am going to gain any value from sending my kid to college. But Fantasy Camp, there’s a life skill that could live with me for the rest of my life. To date that argument gets me nothing more than a stern lecture about the responsibilities of being a parent. Now though I think I may have actually found a way to finance going to camp. The parents and neighbors in our area have become so indoctrinated to the fact that children will be approaching them every month with an opportunity to donate to a fund raiser that I am sure they wouldn’t mind if I started my own “Send Jeff to Camp Fund Raiser”. What a brilliant plan. I am sure that once I explain the mental and physical anguish this poor boy is suffering because he is not able to go to camp with his friends and how the boy is dangerously close to being ostracized from his community because he cannot afford to go to camp to learn the life skills necessary to make him whole the entire community will rally around the youth to make sure he can go to camp. The grateful boy will promise to write daily and tell everyone who helped him what important lessons he is learning at camp. This has feel-good story written all over it. My mind was racing with the thoughts of how this was a win-win situation for everyone involved. The only question remained was what product or products should I sell in my “Send Jeff to Camp Fund Raiser”. It dawned on me that there was really only one thing I could sell, peanuts and Cracker Jack. So I am going to contact the Cracker Jack company and the Hoody’s Nut House to see if I can get them to help. I was so excited I ran to tell Trina about my plan. She just stared at me then shook her head and said maybe I need to contact a different kind of nut house. I’m not sure what she meant by that.