Monday, March 15, 2010

Book Fair

How cam something as fun and seemingly innocuous as a school book fair cause so much stress??

Why is it that I never remember the stress of the annual book fair even one day before so that I can manage it better??

That first year, kindergarten, Jackson was in quite a state about buying something at the book fair. He thought it very cool to go and spend our money. I relented and gave him a few dollars and he came how with some books and some little toy that I did not think was worth half of what we spent.

In grade one, when I had blocked out the prior year's fair from my consciousness, Jackson became obsessed with a radio one of his classmates had purchased. I sent some money and he came home with a calculator hockey puck. So much for BOOK fair.

Last year I had two kids obsessed with it so we spent an afterschool wandering the bins in the library before they both purchased a new journal (book full of empty pages). Apparently they both forgot that they each have about 10 such books at home. But of course I did not understand that these journals had LOCKS ON THEM, which to them meant intrigue and privacy. To me it meant future headaches when the microscopic keys go missing.

This year I actually volunteered to do a shift at the book fair. I'm in the after-recess-to-after-lunch shift. So, last week I reasoned, I am totally on top of this. The kids can come while I'm there at lunch, pick their books. Bingo bango bongo, book fair is sorted for another year.

On Friday they apparently set up the book fair and the classes did a tour so that they could pick out their books. Jackson said firmly that he wanted a book called The Time Traveler's Journal. Sydney said that she wanted a Club Penguin Comic, which Jackson already has. She said she also wanted this really cool book with a compass in it.

"THAT'S THE TIME TRAVELER'S JOURNAL YOU CAN'T WANT IT I WANT IT!!!!"

Somehow we resolved this issue (by distracting Sydney). Jackson told me there were 2 copies of this book and I had a nagging feeling that two copies would not be enough for a whole school. All weekend I meant to check online inventories of the book to see if it was otherwise available.

This morning while I was heading to the computer to check on the availability of the coveted book (one thing the J Boy has taught me is to look for plan B's) when Jackson informed me his WHOLE CLASS WANTS THIS BOOK. If there is one thing I know about Jackson it is that he won't fight for a book, he'll come home from school with the stress bottled up and take it out on me. Anyway, I found the book available online but not in stores. It was $8 more than at the book fair but really at this point, money is no object. I told Jackson, worse case scenario, we'll order it online.

And then it dawned on me that if Jackson's class got to go to the book fair this morning before I got there, he would need money. As in actual cash. Of which I have none. I had been thinking, that they could buy the book at lunch when I was there and I could write a cheque. Jackson queries how we could be out of money. He reminds me he gave ME $10 to put in his allowance ledger (we run our own family bank). I declined to go into long discussion over the nature of the banking system and how because he has that money or that we have a few dollars in the bank, it is not actual bills.

I could not allow a lack of liquidity to be the upset in this scenario. So I threw on jeans and we ran out the door to the bank. But I got absolutely no credit for being willing to run to the teller machine with my jeans and pyjama top, no makeup and not even a comb through my hair. Instead I was treated to this barrage:

Q: If we order the book online, how do we get it. A: in the mail.
Q: But it won't fit in our mailbox A: they have bigger mail boxes for bigger packages.
Q: But Mommy you don't understand how big the book actually is? A: Yes I do.
Q: No you don't Mommy! A: If it is too big they will send us a note and we'll pick it up at the post office.
Q: Are we going to be late for school? A: I don't think so.
Q: We only have 12 minutes? A: I think we'll make it. We're just going to the bottom of the hill.
Q: What if we're late? A: It is only a minute and don't you dare quote me on that tomorrow. You know how I feel about being late.
Q: If you give me $20 and the book is only $10, do I just rip it in two? A: No they'll give you change -- a $10 back.
Q: Who will? A: The parents that are working there. Like me.

I gave Jackson a little pep talk that he should assume he won't get the book and if he gets it, it's a bonus. So he won't be disappointed. He kind of does this self preservation thing anyway.

I arrived at the book fair and looked around for the book. I was going to abuse my privilege as book fair worker and hide the book for the J Boy. I could not find it and my heart sank. Then I saw that Jackson's class had already been in (THANK GOODNESS FOR TRIP TO BANK MACHINE!!). I dared to let myself hope he had got his coveted book.

Jackson's teacher popped in and said to the book fair organizer "This is Jackson's Mom." Apparently his pride of getting this book was evident to all. Not only that, he spent the entire $20 and got a free stuffed monkey. I sighed an enormous sigh of relief.

Sydney was due in at lunch time with her $20. I knew that she too would want the free stuffed monkey. I grabbed one of the few left and a Dumb Diary actual diary I knew she would love. I felt only slightly guilty for abusing my office. She found herself two other books when she came in and left with as much pride as her brother.

And with all the time they've been on the computer lately, I'm pleased that BOOKS were the object of their desire.

And not Puffles.

If you are completely unfamiliar to Club Penguin, Puffles are the fuzzy pets of the penguins (think Tribbles from the original Star Trek). I know that my kids are spending too much time on line on Club Penguin because I asked Sydney this morning what she dreamed about last night and she said "That there was a Star Wars battle that involved Puffles."

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