Manipulation

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Your child may have free dress on Tuesday for spring pictures but only if you are purchasing a picture package.

“Mommy!” Long shuddering sob. “We want free dress today!” My son was crying big huge tears. 

I was hoping I could avoid the whole discussion, just ignore it and sneak them to school in uniforms, but apparently it had been emphasized at school the day before. 

If you come to school in your uniform you are being left out! You are a lame loser. Your parents suck.

So that THIS could happen. Hysterics in the kitchen.

“Please, mommy?!?!??” My daughter’s eyes were welling up, too, as she looked up at me, hopeful. “I want to wear a dress! Please?!?!?” Then the screech. You know the one. The shattering glass, maximum ear pain kind of scream.

$22 for the cheapest package. Times two. So they don’t have to wear the uniforms I paid for…

Gah!

I get it. They don’t want to be singled out as the kid with the parent who is cheap. I know what it is like to be picked on and bullied for stupid stuff and a bunch of pre-K kids are not going to understand the absurdity of the economics and social pressure at play here.

So I relent.

I have to iron two sets of dress clothes, write checks and complete order forms in the minimal amount of time we have left for getting ready. We barely made it.

I am so tired of my children being used as pawns at this game, feeling like the school year is booby trapped at every turn. 

“Mommy, you won’t let me sell any of those first aid kits so I can get a keychain! You never let me do anything and I hate you!” I tried to explain after the subsequent time out that the first aid kits were super expensive crap and that it would be unethical for me as a physician to endorse them. 

He still didn’t understand.

I know this is the way of things, that we are only just getting started down this road, that it is pervasive no matter where I send my kids to school, but it does not stop me from wishing that it was not the case.

At least I take better pictures of my kids than their crappy photographer…

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134 thoughts on “Manipulation

  1. Oh I hate this – there is NO way to win. When I was a kid, I was frequently the only one who didn’t participate in whatever and it’s a really awful feeling to be the odd one out.

    Now that I’m a parent, I really resent being shaken down for money this way. Of course I fork it over because I know how it feels to be left out and I DO NOT want my kids to feel that way, but it just puts pressure on my household budget that I REALLY don’t need.

    Anyway, I feel your pain.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. It is horrendous that kids are used in this way, Of course they are not going to understand they are being used to manipulate you into shelling out for something that you neither want nor need. In your case you have twice the expense as well. It is shocking that schools do this.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. This made me laugh! Those darn fundraisers and their junk prizes. Along the same lines, I got very angry at Yoplait Yogurt yesterday….irrational, I know. They had sugary “junk” yogurt packaged in super cool Ninja Turtle packaging. A fight in the refrigerator section of the grocery immediately began with my 3 year old who HAD to have them. Not because he likes the yogurt, but because of the Ninja Turtles. Guess what is now in our refrigerator?

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Never had children but I remember selling stuff to my aunts. Now I try to duck the sellers because who do you buy from? What am I going to do with 5 sets of stupid wrapping paper. I buy one box of Girl Scout cookies from the first scout that solicits me. After that I turn them down or I’d be 300 pounds.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. My son participated in his FIRST experience with selling the fundraising crap, (what was it?Cookies? Magazine subscriptions? I don’t remember) what I do remember is how disappointed my son was when he didn’t win the big prize. We had a long discussion about how the kids stay-at-home, non-working, PTA-President mom had actually done the selling, and about how I didn’t want my son going door to door hustling junk in OUR neighborhood anyway. I lucked out, my kid got it, and never wanted to participate in that type of BS ever again!

    Liked by 3 people

  6. When my kids were in school, we went through the same stuff – candy, popcorn, raffle tickets, etc. My favorite was the pie sale. The brochure said they were “gourmet+ pies, for only something like $20-$25 apiece, and they would be delivered frozen so you could bake them at home. Of course, I was pretty much forced to buy a couple. They not only turned out to be the same pies you can find in your local grocery’s frozen section for $4.99 or so, but because they were frozen, the parents all had to get to the school within an hour or so of their delivery to the school. Not an easy task for those of us who had to work.

    I did enjoy the window stickees sale, though. I bought stickees for every season of the year and kept them in a photo album. Sometime within the last few years, I lost that album, and my kids and I all miss those stickees. They were the easiest holiday decorations ever!

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I totally know how you feel. You feel totally manipulated by the school and feel like they are using your kids to get your money (they are). My kids went to a school like that then we moved and now they attend a school where every parent is asked to donate money at the start of the school year. Parents who can afford to give more and parents who can’t afford give less. Their school does this instead of fundraising so that kids don’t have to worry about money at all, which is an adult issue. Also, no kid feels left out by not getting a yearbook or not being able to go on a field trip because they are too poor. No guilt tripping, just lots of parents involved in the school. It works and I love it.

    Liked by 5 people

  8. I sooooo hear you on this! And YES on the taking-photographs-yourself. I don’t really like posed portraiture anyways, but I know it’s all a part of school.

    What is your philosophy on buying trophies for sports teams? I haven’t gotten there yet, but I really try to be as minimal as possible when bringing stuff into my home (just to lower stress and clutter and cleaning time, etc.). And growing up with two brothers, I know how fast trophies multiply. But I don’t want to be the “mean” mom who doesn’t let her kid have a trophy.

    It’s only the beginning…

    (Also, thank you for answering my questions this week! I still have that post open to comment on…just behind on things as usual…)

    Liked by 3 people

  9. My favorite is when the kids join sports (for fitness?) and after every practice certain mothers pass out “snacks” (more like high calorie meals). If you tell the kids not to eat them you come off as a complete jerk, but I can’t tell you how many times I wondered what was wrong with women. Were they blind? Half the kids were obese by second grade. URRRRG!

    Whats wrong with photos with kids in uniforms anyway?

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Don’t get me started on fundraisers. I’m assuming that the school will get a percentage of the money earned by the photographer. That’s what keeps this crazy dance going. And most of these fundraisers give very little back to the school. I’m so practical that I just think all of this is a waste of time. What if your school told you exactly the profit they would make off of your order? Let’s say it’s 10 bucks. Then the school could give you the option to fork over 10 bucks for the privilege of your children wearing their favorite outfit that day. Sure you don’t get the pictures but you never wanted them in the first place because damn straight your photos put theirs to shame!

    Liked by 4 people

  11. Bring a polaroid, plenty of cardridges and bounce the flash to avoid the blue light reflex.

    The children will shake those polaroids. Do not ask me way, people tend to shake the polaroid picture.

    You will be the cool parent…

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I feel your pain. At LM’s old school, they would have something called a Mega Party but only let kids who sold at least 10 items participate, which made the ones who didn’t participate in the fundraiser or sell enough feel like crap. I was glad the new principal put an end to it (before we moved him).

    Liked by 3 people

  13. Peer pressure is beginning to butt in. I don’t blame you for objecting to those fund raising situations. I never let my children do it either. I don’t think it is fair to the neighbours and it can be down right dangerous with strangers. There is something seriously wrong when schools send out the children to raise funds.
    Leslie

    Liked by 4 people

      • Only we cando that. That is why it is so difficult. You have to take your stand and hold firm. Ignor any guilt that others (including your children) may try to impart on you. This isn’t a randon action. It has been duly considered by you and that is all there is to it. Courage!
        Leslie

        Liked by 1 person

  14. I would bribe M not to do any of the school fundraisers.

    Pizza party? I will buy you your own pizza.
    Pokemon toy? here, have two.

    And so forth. I didn’t participate in one fund raiser like that the entire time he was in school. I am sure if you ask him he’ll say I was “mean, but whatever” I know if he ever has kids, or works with people who have kids and pass those brochures around, that i will get a thank you from him then ๐Ÿ˜€

    Liked by 3 people

  15. I feel ya. We live in a digital age now. School pictures are such a racket! I haven’t done them in years and years — and the ones I have done are where they sent the pics home and if you like them you can buy them.
    You’re right, it’s only the beginning, but imagine all the practice you’ll have before you encounter “Everyone is going to Cancun for spring break! Everyone! Even Kelsey, and she’s only 16!”

    Liked by 4 people

  16. It’s all ridiculous, isn’t it?
    Here, except for religious schools, uniforms were unusual. Now not so much — and they say it is to avoid peer pressure… then the schools do the kind of thing you just described. It’s got to be hard… Great-big hug.
    Oh, by the way — I’ll be posting the serial episode with the “three things” you sent this weekend (Crinoline, Lye Soap Caterpillar). ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I hate all that pressure!! Thank goodness I have no one at school all my boy are grown and left home! It gets worse by the year, don’t get me started on Partys, party bags and themed party …and OMG the new 5th and 6th year proms… evening dress limo …ARRRRRRRRRRRRRGH!!!

    Liked by 2 people

      • No we still refer to the 5th year when students do their GCSE it is actually year 11 now and the students are 16yrs then again the leavers Ball after they have done their A levels and are leaving school. That’s year 12 and 13 sorry for the confusion, my boys being in their 30’s and 40’s I was thinking old style. ๐Ÿ™‚ But give it a couple of years no doubt grade school will do them too. xxx

        Liked by 1 person

      • LOL! Completely different terminology. Thank you for the clarification! Here we also have Preschool graduation. Kindergarten graduation. Elementary school graduation. All of these require caps and gowns and cheapen the experience of high school graduation. So it did not seem like too far of a stretch that prom would be duplicated, too!

        Liked by 1 person

  18. I don’t envy you there…I am so glad that those days are over. I am also glad that I don’t have to bring things to work and sell the things that they are supposed to even though no parent is going to let their kid go door to door like we used to. School pictures are ridiculously priced and now they are digital prints and not worth the money. Hang in there. ๐Ÿ™‚ .

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I don’t envy you there…I am so glad that those days are over. I am also glad that I don’t have to bring things to work and sell the things that they are supposed to even though no parent is going to let their kid go door to door like we used to. School pictures are ridiculously priced and now they are digital prints and not worth the money. Hang in there. ๐Ÿ™‚ .

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  20. First: What a wonderful shot. Truly. Second: I get hit up all the time by my grandnephew for stuff. I bought all his popcorn one year and told the family to keep it. What the heck. And Third: never have regrets about having children….this is from someone who wanted them all her life and had none.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Omg, so that’s what my parents went through every time my school made up some bogus activity to make us buy tshirts, rosaries (I went to catholic school), coupons, raise funds for whatever…etc. Time definitely gives us a different perspective on these trivial things. And to think pictures nowadays are usually digitally printed. Not the same quality at all. By the way, that picture is just so ridiculously cute!!! Take care!

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Oh, I remember those days of selling useless crap just so the school could make a few bucks. I really resented them making my kids think if they sold all this garbage they would get the coolest prize EVER and be presented with an award. I felt like the school was putting our kids in a proverbial white van, driving them around the suburban neighborhoods, stopping to let them out so they could sell some cheesey magazines under the guise of collecting money to go on a trip. We finally worked a deal out with the school, that we would just give them a check every year for a good amount if they would stop pimping our kids out to sell all that useless stuff. Then things got so much better.
    Photo days – always used to forget those as well, and my kids would tell me after the fact. I suck as a parent sometimes. But they have grown up okay despite all my inadequacies as a parent. Thank goodness.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. I was a teacher for forty years. No way would I, or any school I worked in, no way would the distinction be made. Never! If you have any guts you get up tomorrow and you go and front the principal and tell him/her that you, as a parent, and also as a client, (because you are buying their product so you are a client) that you are absolutely disgusted and you want an assurance that this will never happen again. Or you can go and be quiet and reasonable and ask them to make sure that next year they don’t do anything so totally bloody stupid again.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. My children’s schools took everyone’s photo–you didn’t have to purchase any package. Public schools, no required uniforms. And I love having those school pictures now. What I disliked was the candy sales. By high school, the Parent Association just asked for a cash contribution (no over-priced fundraisers) –whatever you could afford. That makes more sense to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Interesting fact: most of the public schools in my area have uniforms, actually. Cash contribution absolutely makes more sense, though I imagine fewer people would give. Still, the profits thine a higher so maybe it’s a wash.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Interesting that the uniforms are supposed to make kids more equal; but in fact it just exaggerates the differences by eliminating some elements that might smooth them out. Some public schools here do have uniforms, but wearing them is voluntary. The exclusive private school kids flaunt their uniforms and all the accessories that prove their superiority.

        Liked by 1 person

  25. That is a troubling aspect of schools, though I remember my parents never fell for that trap, and I don’t remember actually resenting them for it. Maybe schools have become better at mind games? ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Ohh, I remember being held hostage by the school system when my kids were young….it seemed like every day one of them would come home and tell me their teacher was requiring them to buy something (I was a single mom on a negative bank balance income)….like a lite green shirt…..who wears lite green shirts and where do you buy them one ONE nights notice???? It gets better!!!

    Liked by 1 person

      • Thise teachers think we are all made out of money lol…my son is in college now and its all grants and scholarships for now…my daughter is in HS and rarely comes home with teacher sanctioned shopping lists…the lower grades are hard work for parents…my daughter is in all honors AP classes so them going to school is not a JOB for me anymore!

        Liked by 1 person

  27. Pingback: My Article Read (4-15-2015) | My Daily Musing

  28. It is a constant battle Victo. if you want an interesting read (that is hilarious in places) try “Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feynman” by the American nuclear physicist Richard Feynman ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surely_You%27re_Joking,_Mr._Feynman! ) He helped build the nuclear bomb and his funny observations of life are insightful. When you spoke about navigating the school system and the poor quality first aid kits – my first reaction was for you to get involved to pick better kits. Then i remembered Feynman – who had two kids – and his displeasure with their science texts. He got involved in the committee to pick new texts and when he was given the competing texts to review he found that they had no writing – just the pretty covers and empty pages in between. The publishers did not have time to include the content and did not want to lose the bid, so they sent empty texts. He objected to the committee head and was told that they still had to pick to get the texts in time for the school year, so they voted on which was the best – with no content. Ha! Welcome to the system.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Ha! He’s great isn’t he? that blurb about choosing a book by its cover was hilarious and so metaphorical – imagine a world renowned physicist choosing a text book by how pretty its cover was.hilarious. Anyway, my point is that sometimes the system just does not offer any options but to roll your eyes and carry on.

        Liked by 1 person

  29. First, love the post, and photo (never said that about your fairy daughter photo, either, so let me now : ).

    Next, parenting skills need shoring up when parents feel they must give in to children:

    (1) Children wanting Ninja Turtle decorated yogurt, or any other item, seen on a shopping trip. We had a simple rule: We never bought our sons ANYTHING they saw or asked for while on a shopping trip, except on vacations–at least, not in front of them where they could see. So they never begged or whined. Simple. We might say “Maybe you’ll get that on your birthday.” Or “Maybe you can save your money.” Occasionally, we might let them get a gumball machine prize. Rarely, we might treat them by surprising and treating them to toys for no reason.

    (2) Children whining, or screaming, or fake crying. I used to tell kids I babysat “You’re pushing your crying out.” When one son tried a tantrum in a public place, I waited patiently, unembarrassed, until he got tired. That was the only tantrum, ever. I taught my fifth-grade students each year what whining was by demonstrating, and from then on acted deaf to it. They were cured the first two weeks of class.

    (3) Children wanting what other children have, and the horrors of peer pressure. Kids need to know not all families are the same, and they also need to understand morals and values from early ages. Nothing wrong with that. Where does one draw a line, otherwise? My children’s preschool had label-conscious PREschoolers! For heaven’s sake!

    I’m not saying never go along to get along, but mostly don’t. In my opinion. Because, in my opinion, we’re seeing all around us the results of doing otherwise.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the complements! Believe me when I say that my kids don’t get everything they want. I am a firm believer in not understanding the value of something until you have to do without. But when it comes to acceptance from other kids, they are hitting me at a weak spot. I know how much suffering can come from that. If I can spare my kids that experience, I will.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I do believe you. I imagine nothing but that you’re an awesome parent, and was responding not only to your post, but to all the sum of comments and commenters.

        Every parent has their weak spots. As long as these are not blind spots, all is well.

        A frequent weak spot I have seen which tends to be a blind spot is “I grew up poor, and I know how much I suffered from that. I am going to buy my kids everything they want that I can.” A tremendous amount of harm comes from that one. Often, those treasured children don’t interpret their positions as loved and treasured, but instead entitled. Poor papa, and poor children of those children.

        (Victo, many would say I have no right to speak about good parenting skills, as a parent of two sons who choose to have nothing to do with her, but I am very confident, now, that the blame for this should not be placed at my feet. Even my mother-in-law, who hated me, gave me, at the time, credit for being a great parent! : )

        Liked by 1 person

  30. LOL! Now, you KNOW I can’t badmouth other professional photographers, but…. ๐Ÿ˜‰ No, I definitely get what you’re saying, and I think it’s a shame the school manipulates the kids like that to sell more photos. And yes, your photography is awesome! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

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