The boys' elementary school ran a fundraising contest between grades this week: Coins for Cancer. Little did I know this would spark a lesson money management.
Walk with me. Let's chat.
I knew about the contest and provided ample change for the boys to take to school. Each got to take a fist-full of loose change from a jar used for collecting said loose change. This was Wednesday morning, the last day of the contest. Oh, did I mention the contest prize was a pizza party for the classroom collecting the most money?
Wednesday evening, in the driveway.
Me: Jack, make sure you grab your wallet out of the van. You wouldn't want it to get stolen.
Jack: Oh, there's only about six bucks left in it anyway.
(Commentary: Since when did $6 become "throw away money" to a 9-year-old boy?!)
Me: (knowing he had at least $40) What happened to the rest of your money?
Jack: I donated it at school.
Jack: Yeah. And Charlie gave about $30 or $35...
Apparently, my sons decided it was OK to shell out a total of $75 of their own money for this contest. Granted, it was a fundraiser for cancer -- and the fact that I had a fit about what they did makes me feel like an ogre. (And not the funny kind from Shrek.) Jeff and I not only donate to, but participate in fundraising for very worthy causes. WE should be the big-dollar donors in our house, not the two 9-year-olds and the 7-year-old whose generosity isn't fueled by the thought of helping fight cancer, but rather for securing a pizza party for their respective classrooms.
Thursday afternoon, school
Sam: (breathlessly climbing into the van) My classroom won the pizza party!
(Didn't see THAT coming!)
Me: Well, don't make a big deal out of it in front of your brothers. Just let it be for now.
Jack: (arriving at car) Sam's class won the pizza.
(Not as gleeful as Sam.)
Charlie: (arriving at car) We didn't win.
(Definitely not as gleeful as Sam.)
Me: You guys are missing the whole point of the fundraiser. You donated money to help fight a serious illness, not to eat pizza.
As we drove, I told the boys that in the future, they were to run any and all donations past me, Jeff or their dad. I would've gladly OK'd a $5 donation from each of them if that's what they wanted to do with their money. but the amounts they gave were a bit over the line. If it was pizza they wanted, they could've called Papa John's and ordered a few carry-out specials at $5.99 a pop. That would've fed their class. And then some.
I don't know where I am with this situation. On one hand, I'm upset that they all but opened up their wallets and let someone help himself to their money. On the other hand, they donated to a worthy cause -- but only because they wanted a pizza party. Obviously, this is proof positive that they aren't exactly the financially responsible boys they think they are. And it's a wake-up call for me that we need to do more to teach the value of a dollar and earning/spending money.
Looks like we have some 'splainin' to do. Any suggestions?
By the way, Sam's class garnered something like $503, with $250 coming from one student's parents. Jack and Charlie thought this was in incredible injustice and totally unfair. Their class raised somewhere around $230... so even if that family hadn't donated that lump sum, Sam would still have earned bragging rights.