We washed cars in the Safeway parking lot, sold raffle tickets at the mall, collected soda cans door to door, and sold lollipop bouquets.
I loved wandering the mall with raffle tickets being told to “Slow down, honey, you talk too fast” and “Aren’t you cute!” I loved convincing people to give us their money. I was about 9 and in heaven. I didn’t think there was a real raffle, and I didn’t get a single name or phone number on any of the tickets I sold. I convinced people to give me money for my brother based entirely on enthusiasm and big brown eyes without even a hint that they would get a reward for their good deed. I didn’t see anything wrong with that. I believe my mom was horrified to see all of my nameless raffle tickets, since doing it that way was (probably) illegal…but what could you do? I made a lot of money for the team.
It was 1988 (I think) and we raised about $6000 in a few weeks (you can give the correct #’s Dad!) and the boys were off to Indianapolis.
I didn’t get to go. Considering how much I hated basketball tournaments–you don’t get to nationals without about a million trips to Seattle for the weekend first–this was no great loss to me. The only thing I envied about the trip was the ghostbuster cups they got to KEEP when the ate at some place called “Hardees.” (*side note: memory tells me it was a Ghostbusters cup, but it could have been something else. If it was, my brother will correct me, I’m sure!)
It was a whirlwind. A fundraising extravaganza. It made all of our previous Camp Fire candy sales, or World’s Best Chocolate school fundraisers pale by comparison, even though I liked all of that too.
But now I’m 36. And my kids are fundraising age. And I’m exhausted by the thought. I’m embarrassed to go door to door with their Girl Scout cookies. I’m annoyed that the organization expects us to give them $3.50 of every $4 you all spend on the cookies. I would rather write and sell books to pay for camp than teach my kids how to properly be adorable for strangers to give them money.
I feel like I’ve abandoned my heritage.
But more than that, I feel like any success I have in this writing business is due entirely to the lessons my Dad taught me during the fundraising years, and that by being a lame Girl Scout mom I am failing to teach my kids the same things.
I was talking to an internet friend who lives in England the other day. Remember, England is where Girl Scouts (called Girl Guides) started. She said, “What? You make your children sell things to strangers?” There was a horrified tone to her typing that justified my lack of enthusiasm for the sport of child-fundraising.
Well, anyway. In our door to door neighborhood sales, we managed to sell just three boxes, They all went to one neighbor down the street, on a super rainy day in January. (What a dumb time to do door to door sales.) We needed to deliver the cookies (and collect the money because I am bad at making people pay for their presales) so we went to deliver them this week. But there was a note on the door that said, “Surgery Patient. Do not knock or ring.”
The girls decided they wanted to leave the cookies safely tucked into the screen door for the family, and that they would pay for the cookies themselves because the neighbor was having a rough time and it might make her feel better. Three boxes of cookies, at $4 each is $12 and they said they would each contribute $6 from their saved up allowances.
So, yeah. I’m not teaching them the necessary business lessons that I learned (and loved learning) while I was young. But they seemed to have picked up one or two important lessons from the other stuff we do and I think, in the long run, they are going to be okay.