Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Saturday night was the fundraising auction for my daughter's school. Public elementary schools here in San Francisco lack funds for things like:
- Physical education
- A library
- Playground equipment
- School nurse

Usually when I make a list in this blog, the last few elements of it are jokes. The joke here is on the students. Ho ho ho.

What my daughter's school does have, however, is a very active Parent Teacher Association. The PTA holds a couple major fundraisers each year and through them they fund most of the above items. (Note that there's still no school nurse, which is why kids get sent home with "pink eye" despite any actual pink eyes.)

So, the annual auction is a big deal. Parents are enlisted to make, gather, or secrete items to auction off. Local companies are cajoled into donating products, and child labor laws are temporarily suspended so the school kids can glue, color, and sculpt items for the auction. In the end, hundreds of items are displayed, and a parental bidding frenzy ensues.

The smartest thing that the auction organizers did was hold an open bar. Free booze. This makes sense in an auction for the same reason that it makes sense in a casino. You want those wallets well lubricated, and booze is the K-Y jelly of choice. Soon, parents were spending literally thousands of dollars on arts and crafts. I'm not sure exactly how much the school raised, but it was probably over $70,000.

When my daughter is able to enjoy a gold-plated library, we'll have booze to thank.

I had to cut out of the auction early to let the babysitter go home. For the first time we had a neighborhood kid, a 14 year-old girl, watch our daughter while we were out. She's a pretty mature kid and had been advertising her baby and petsitting business for quite a while. Also, my daughter digs her.

When I got home, I asked the babysitter, who had been there for about 3.5 hours, what her hourly rate was. She shrugged her shoulders and said, "Whatever you feel like paying."

Whatever I feel like paying? I feel like paying $0, but that seems unfair somehow.

"You don't have an amount you want to charge me?" I asked?

"Nope, whatever you want." she replied infuriatingly, while I flipped through my wallet.

"How about $5.00 an hour? And we'll round it up to $20.00?" I suggested, with my eyebrows slightly raised in a doesn't-that-sound-good expression.

"Whatever you think is fair," she replied, staring at me steadily.

Crap! What does that mean? Does that mean that $5.00 is unfair? Am I getting bamboozled by a 14 year old? I suck at this.

So, I gave her $25.00 and sent her on her way.

Then it was time to put my daughter to bed. We've almost always had an elaborate night-time ritual for my daughter. Back when she was the world's most colicky baby (tm), the ritual had all sorts of steps including music, saying goodnight to various inanimate objects, reading, and frustration. Mostly I was the one who got frustrated. I'd be as soothing as I could be and my daughter would just scream. Soon, the bedtime ritual became my wife's duty because it made me crazy.

As a side note here, I'm not a crazy guy. I'm very even and sane. Putting my daughter to bed, however, just drove me batty.

Anyways, the ritual is less elaborate now that she's much older. There's still lots of story time though. My wife always reads to her and then tells her a made-up story featuring a running set of wife-created characters. Recently they've been reading the Chronicles of Narnia and they've both been digging it. I was looking forward to reading it tonight.

"Baby, it's late, so you can either have me read from your book, or I can tell you a made-up story, but we don't have time for both." I made this offer knowing full well that I wouldn't have to come through on the made-up story. My daughter was loving her Narnia books and wouldn't pass up an opportunity to hear them. Good news because I hadn't the faintest idea what story I'd make up.

"Ok, I'll take a made-up story."
"What?? Don't you want to hear your book? Hasn't it been interesting??"
"I'd prefer a made-up story."
"Oh, baby, I think Narnia would be better. I'm not good at making up stories like your mother."
"Daddy! Your stories are great."

Crap! Am I getting bamboozled by a 5 year old? I suck at this.

I thought for a very long time. I looked all around her room for inspiration. Story about curtains? No. About dressers? Clocks? Walls? No no no.

Nothing there. I thought about books I had recently read. My current book was a science fiction book about an assassin. Perhaps not good child fare. I contemplated common science fiction themes:

- Aliens. Too scary
- Man defeating computer by creating a circular logic loop. Too cliche.
- Time travel.

Ah! Time travel! And that clock on her wall! Oh, it's all coming together!

And so the story of Tim (note the similarity to the word "Time") the clockmaker was born. Tim's very special clock allowed him to travel through time. Before you know it, he's caught the bad guys and the story is over.

Ta dah.


Badaunt said...

My favourite bedtime story when I was a little kid was the rabbit story my father made up. It went on and on and on, the main point being that I had to name new rabbits and remember all the rabbit names, and they kept multiplying, as rabbits do.

It started off with a little girl wanting pet rabbits, so her father ordered them for her and they were sent by train, but the train was derailed, so the rabbits set up house in the derailed boxcar and started a family.

Their names were Funny Bunny and Bad Habit Rabbit. Their family got bigger and bigger and bigger and had all sorts of adventures, mainly involving new baby rabbits which had to be named.

I used to fall asleep trying to think of new names. Yhat was the point, of course, only I didn't know that.

Mike said...

I'm not so sure that my daughter would fall asleep when being asked to participate in a story. Truth be told, if anyone is likely to fall asleep during story time, it's my wife. She routinely nods off mid-story only to be woken by the prodding of my daughter asking why the story has taken a nonsensical route or why it has seemingly ended prematurely.

Tasty said...

Give the man 100 smacks for using the word "secrete" in a funny sentence.

dolface said...

my dad used to tell me made-up stories when i was a kid too, i never appreciated how hard it is to make up stories on the spot until i got older.
he used this gimmick where he pretended that there was an elf who lived in his sleeve who would tell him the story, which he would then relay to me.
in restrospect i think i should have been a little suspicious, or at least weirded out, that he had an elf living in his sleeve, but i was a credulous kid.

Mike said...

Tasty, is that "smacks" or "smackers". I'm down with the smackers. Not so much with the smacks.

Dolface, sounds like your dad's gimmick was for buying time. In lieu of such cleverness, I just stared into space for 2 minutes while my daughter fidgeted beside me.

The Wife said...

The school auction has raised nearly $122,000 so far and money is still coming in.