Toni has a science project due this week. They've been studying the solar system so, well, that's what her project has to be about... duh! After hemming and hawing over what she wanted to do for like.... 2 weeks, she came to the exciting conclusion that she wants to make a comet smashing into Jupiter.
I thought we could make a simple model of planets in orbit, but that was waaaay too boring for her. She's a bit like her brother in the smash 'em up department, and if she could get by with blowing a planet up in her classroom; well, that would make her year at school.
After brainstorming some design ideas we decide to hit Wal-Marts at 7:00 p.m., because after all, it HAS to be done at the last minute. That's how my kids do everything right now; at the last possible freaking minute so as to have me running around and losing the last few hairs left on my head and completely freaking out that my kid is gonna get an "F" in this thing.
Our list was simple:
1/2 of a small styrofoam ball
1 medium sized styrofoam ball
1 package of glittery pipe cleaners (they now call fuzzy sticks ?????)
1 can of flat black paint
1 small container of spray on glitter (cause we gotta have sparkly stars in the background)
1 small package of crushed shells (cause we have to make the comet look like a dirty snowball, cause that's what it looks like, right?)
1 pair of pajamas - Doh! That's not part of the project, but Toni need a warmer pair so it was added to the list, but won't be glued to the project - hopefully.
I get to the register and the the whole pile of junk rings up to $32.38! What the hell did I just spend $32.38 on??? The pajamas were only $7.00, so that didn't really make a big difference. So I just paid $25 some odd dollars on a project so that my daughter can get an "A" on her science project.
Why do I feel like both my daughter and I are getting scammed here by both the school system and Wal-mart's? Are they in cahoots with one another?
"Good morning Wal-Marts, this is Ms. So-In-So at Gulf Breeze Elementary."
"Yes, good to talk to you to again sir."
"Listen, we have another science project coming up for our third graders that I want to let you in on."
"Yeah, it's a doozy so there will be LOT"S of items you can mark up a few cents on this one."
"Yes, I'm sure it WILL make your Arkansas headquarters happy to hear about this, that's why we like to keep you informed of such events like these."
"Yeah, good project I have here - it's about the Solar System. The WHOLE Solar System!"
"What is that? Oh yes sir, it will cover BOTH the craft departments and the kids science kits cause I'm sure there will be plenty of parents that won't want to make anything from scratch and will prefer those cheap boxed kits instead."
"No, no, no - I don't expect that you will keep them cheap under these circumstances. It's too good of a project!"
"Oh yes sir, it WILL be a perfect time for parents to do some spontaneous shopping with Halloween and all. I've got these kids all wigged out over this project. They'll be screaming for mommy and daddy to buy everything in sight in order to get one of my 'A's'!"
"Now, do I still get that special discount for letting you know about this?"
"Oh thank you sir, and please give my regards to Arkansas."
"Huh - what's that? Oh, oh yeah - Go Dolphins!"
This is the only way I can explain how a ten dollar project costs me over $30 in order for my 8 year old child to pass the project and my not receive a massive letter campaign from the teacher and the school for not participating.
My parenting and my financial common sense brain cell tells me that I think Wal-Mart could have made a "school project" campaign that rivals the "school supplies" campaign back in August.
"At Wal-Mart's, we've marked your favorite items down so that no school project cost more that $10."
"Save Money - Live Better "
"We Won't Leave You Filing For Bankruptcy After Your Child's School Projects."
Now THAT'S a slogan I can live with!
To add insult to injury, I still have a kid at home who is completely stressed out about whether her project will "look" good enough against all the others as if it is unacceptable unless it says "Juicy" on the back tail of the comet as it's swirling towards a day-glo orange Jupiter!
When did peer pressure get passed on to science projects? Have I missed something in the 10-20-whatever years it's been since I was in high school?
Anyway, on top of all the filler school supplies at the beginning of school like, copy paper, paper towels, hand sanitizer, the janitors first month wages; I also have to dig deep in my bare pockets for all those required science projects so my kids an pass onto the next grade without severe black marks against their permanent school records.
At this rate, I think private school might have been cheaper after all.