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.