I was bitching to my friend Jacquie the other day about how much the School Carnival was costing me financially, mentally and time-ily (not a real word but I thought I’d try it out anyway). First of all, I had to bake cupcakes for the cake stall – okay, so that’s hardly a chore considering my track record (see “Cupcaking“), but still, a cupcake baked under duress is a little like sex for money (and not love). Okay, so not really, but you get the idea, right? But get this, as well as the loveless cupcakes, I also had to sell tickets to the raffle, bring in items to be raffled off and volunteer my time for manning one of the stalls. And then I found out that there were going to be rides at the carnival, which at $3 a pop or $25 for an “unlimited pass” per child, could easily send me into remortgaging-the-house territory at this time of year. I mean, how many pounds of my ample flesh did this School Carnival Committee want from me???
“Like, duh, [NDM]. It’s, like, called fund-raising?” Jacquie said. Not quite like that, but I really do enjoy portraying my sophisticated friends as gum-crackin’ wise-ass teenage girls.
Of course she was right. It’s all in good fun for a good cause, I thought to myself. But little did I know how wrong I was… and now, a few days after the event, I would like to share a little of the “fun” the School Carnival had in store for me.
After baking, decorating and labeling cupcakes at dawn (adhering to the complex WHO Guidelines on labeling food for consumption at school fairs), I drove my cupcakes and my children to the carnival to find everyone else had driven and I ended up having to park the Love Bus closer to my house than the school. I then went on to stand around in the burning sun for four long hours to:
a) lose my children almost as often as I lost my patience with them;
b) join long queues for food and drink, clutching my precious “food tickets” in my hand like it was War Time Britain;
c) serve my obligatory 45 minutes hard labour, hawking second hand plastic crap to people who already had Quite Enough At Home, Thank You Very Much;
d) watch my son and friends go up and down and up and down (and up and down) the Giant Slide and round and round and round and round (and round and round) on the tea cup ride (my son is to an unlimited rides pass as Homer Simpson is to an “all-you-can-eat” seafood buffet) all with the expectation that I would wave with equal enthusiasm *every* *single* *time*;
e) get snarled at by ill-tempered carnies for my equally ill-behaved children, whose ability to queue patiently in an orderly fashion for the jumping castle was somewhat hampered by the fact they were high on adrenalin and fairy floss;
e) enjoy the climactic finale where Mr Justice projectile vomited in front of a large crowd of parents and children into my (thankfully empty) cake container. Lovely!
So yes, good cause and all, but can someone please tell me where the fun was in all that? And don’t go telling me it’s in watching my children having the Best Time Ever because it’s *not* about them, it’s about *me*. Me! ME! MEEEEEEE!!
My husband didn’t need to ask me how the school carnival was. I walked in, sunburnt, with the frazzled air of someone who has left their house with the iron still on, something boiling on the stove and the front door wide open but hasn’t quite realised it yet. It was only a few hours later that it all hit me like a tonne of lego bricks – and I swore then and there that next year, come School Carnival time, I was going to place everyone in the family under house arrest and send my apologies to the school along with a $100 cheque. Now, I don’t know or care what anyone else thinks, but as far as I’m concerned, *that’s* the way to fundraise.