In the first week of school, my daughter Annabelle received two Falcon flyers. This was a super big deal because she could turn them in for a prize. I wasn’t sure where to take the flyers, so we stopped at the office and were told to give them to the teacher, who would put them in a box for a raffle drawing. Problem solved.
The next morning, Annabelle’s head is full of these flyers. We bring them to the teacher…who tells us we’re supposed to give them to the office. OK, back to the office, where this time we are told to put them in a large plastic box outside the office for a drawing. Mission complete! It’s exciting, too, because Annabelle’s two flyers are the only two in the box, so she’s got this raffle in the bag.
Over the next couple of days, Annabelle’s two flyers are still the only ones in the box, and I begin to get suspicious. Colin sees them and verifies that this is Not Where Falcon Flyers Go. We go back to the office and are told again that they should have gone to the teacher, but the nice woman in the office takes pity on us and lets Annabelle pick out a little plastic dragon from the prize box. The dragon is her favorite toy for exactly 27 minutes, which is about how much of my life was sucked away in pursuit of said dragon.
The Fun Run is coming to the kids’ school, and this means more prizes. It’s super exciting, and Annabelle is pumped. To motivate the kids to fundraise for the run, they are given cheap little plastic gears that are apparently the most thrilling toy ever. Why I break the bank at Christmas over these kids is a mystery. Annabelle is particularly tickled that the gear colors match each of her favorite stuffed animals. There is a green one for Lambie, red for Foxy, white for Zebra, and yellow for Piggie. Life could not be more perfect.
I log on to donate to the run. The system prompts me to donate per lap, but I’m no fool. I’ve seen Colin at that Fun Run, and he tears up the track. I choose the flat donation. The kids say that if I donate, they can get a prize. Done.
After school the next day, Annabelle tells me that prizes were passed out, but she didn’t receive one. Why didn’t my kids get a prize? I have a budding theory that it is because I didn’t choose the donate-per-lap option. Colin confirms that he has prize-less classmates who are the children of cheapskate, flat donation parents.
I tell Annabelle we can check on her prize tomorrow after school if she reminds me. She is very helpful and reminds me before bed, when she wakes up in the morning, on the walk to school, and again when I pick her up. We go to the office after school to ask about the prize, even though I am embarrassed out of my mind. If I’d wanted a reputation at the school, it was not the crazy lady who is on an Ahab quest for Dollar Tree prizes. The office tells us to go to the teacher, who—you guessed it—tells us to go to the office.
It takes a day to go back and forth and ask at the different locations, so Annabelle reminds me 72 more times. Finally I am told to search the school for the Fun Run people. Never in my life have I worked so hard to bring more cheap plastic toys into my home.
At last! I locate the Fun Run woman, who says she has been told of my quest. This confirms my suspicion that I am the most ridiculous person in the world.
“I don’t know why you didn’t get a prize,” she says. “But sometimes when the donation is very large, it doesn’t register.”
Yeah. I don’t think that’s what happened here. But I’ll be sure not to fall into that little trap next time.
“Let me just go to my computer and verify that you donated,” she tells me. So we wait around while she checks, but I don’t blame her. If word got out that we got these prizes for free, people would be bashing in storefronts all up and down First Street.
The Fun Run woman returns with our prizes, and they are…more of the same plastic gears the kids already got. It’s just a larger pack. I hand them to Annabelle and brace for disappointment.
But Annabelle, God bless her, says, “Oooh! It’s a double pack!” Then she takes them home and connects them to her other little gears, and she reaches a level of contentment rivaled only by Buddha.
I spend the next three weeks fishing gears out of the couch cushions and picking them up from various places in the house, and I question whether it was worth it. Did Jason ever look at his fleece and wonder what it was all for? But then Lambie shows me the gears that match him—he now has three, six if you count Colin’s—and I am assured that I have somehow unlocked the meaning of life.