Thursday, November 29, 2007

Heads do not have to roll

This is my second-to-last NaBloPoMo post. Not that I'm counting or anything.

I decided, this morning, to stop by the principal's office after volunteering for a couple of hours in N's classroom, to express my, um, mild vexation over Idiot School Psychologist's name being on N's IEP-timeline sheet. Didn't curse this time, either. Go me! Maybe because she looked appropriately annoyed (at the district, not at me) and took out paperwork to show me that the name of the psychologist who is going to be assessing N--and who will also be heading up his IEP meeting--is not that of Idiot School Psychologist. I had a feeling that that might be the case--that the timeline sheet was filled out pro forma by someone who hadn't been in the "No, don't mention his name in front of TC; she'll go ballistic" loop, but that the actual assessment paperwork is indeed all in order.

When I got home, there was a nice long phone message from the guy at the school district saying essentially the same thing, and promising me that Idiot School Psychologist would not be anywhere near my child.

My work here is nowhere near done, but at least I can let this one go.

Which means, of course, that I need to replace it with something else to be annoyed and belligerent about. And since it's That Time of Year and I haven't had anything to be truly Scroogey about lately, I'm going to take the little shred of indignation I worked up this morning over an email I received, and turn it into a full head of steam.

To wit: Times are lean here. (Do I hear any amens out there? I thought I would.) So, this morning, when I got a notice about a Girl Scout stuffed-animal drive for needy kids, I was thrilled. This was something we could be part of; we have, in our home, something resembling the population of a wild game park in which all hunting has been prohibited for the past 50 years and the animals were all given fertility drugs. In other words, we have a lot of stuffed animals. Nobody would even notice if a few (dozen) went missing.

Except then I read further: "Council will receive donations of NEW stuffed buddies..."

Now, it's hard to express my distaste over this new trend of everyone only accepting "new, unwrapped" toys to give to kids who don't get much. Every time I try it, I end up sounding like some kind of mean old fogey, mumbling about how those "damn charity cases ought to take my kids' broken and stinky old toys and LIKE IT." Which is not my point at all. But here's what my point is: Ignoring the whole Christmas/Chanukah/feeling marginalized thing, this is supposed to be a season of giving. And my upbringing and my faith have both taught me that there is always someone more in need than you, and that it is not only a privilege, but a duty to give. And I have much to give. Except I don't have it in cash. What I have are toys and stuffed animals and clothes that my kids have hardly every touched or worn, and which could make another child very happy. Except I'm not allowed to give that stuff to those children. Instead, I'll end up trucking them over to Goodwill or Out of the Closet or a consignment shop. And then these things will be out of reach, again, to the truly underprivileged, the kids whose parents can't even come up with a buck-fifty for a t-shirt.

It just seems stupid...and wrong...that we are now at a point in our society where reaching out and giving to another person in need has become yet another privilege, something out of the reach of many of us. Does it really matter if the freaking teddy bear still has its Gund tag on it? Will some three-year-old love it less because some other kid hugged it first? Because, personally, I think that makes it more valuable, not less. Yet I'm being told by organization after organization this season that my gifts--that my impulse to give--just aren't good enough. And while I'd like to scoff and say, "Fine. Their loss," the truth is, it's making me feel like I'm not good enough, either. Not good enough to give.


Anonymous said...

Hmm, well, you don't have to give stuff to give, you know? You have time and talents that other people don't, maybe you could give time instead? In fact, you give that stuff all year long.

FWIW I kind of agree with the "only new" thing at least with respect to stuffed animals. They can get thrown up on, or peed on, or whatever and it would be hard to tell.

They won't take donated used clothes? I'm sure the missions or homeless programs would. Heck, they might take stuffed animals, too!


Jennifer W said...

I'm SO glad that guys name was just a typo! I was ready to go all 'mean mommy' too! lol

The charity thing I understand. I have TONS of barely used toys and stuffed animals. I would love to pass some on to someone who needs them. Toss them in the washer (I'm sure they'd do that too) before they're given & good as new.

I wish I could give something else, like my time, but that involves a baby sitter for my toddler who would be underfoot otherwise. I could buy new stuffed animals for what a sitter costs!

Is there maybe another charity that would gladly take them new or not?

Anonymous said...

Some of the skid row missions (Los Angeles Mission; Union Rescue Mission) take used clothes, toys, baby things, etc. as long as they are clean and in good condition.


Hilary said...

I went to a thing at our church last week that took from the book "Unplug the Christmas Machine" (go ahead and smack me if you want to :-)) and I was the only one at the table who said that charitable giving this time of year only added to my stress levels.

Not that I don't want to do it.

But still.

On top of everything else, there's food drives, and clothing drives, and adopt-a-family, and and and ...

Like I said, it's not that I don't want to do it - it's just that at this time of year one's charity is so much more public that it sometimes devolves into Yet Another Thing that's added to the To Do list.

So yes - I totally agree with you. How sad that everything has to be hermetically sealed or it's not worth giving. Combine the "new, unwrapped" requirement with my "give, give, give" stress (it's not a bad thing - really it isn't. It's just more.) and it's a PITA.

Also, with way too many stuffed toys in this house,

po said...

I can't find a place to donate toys around here at all :(. I give the clothes to Big Brothers/Sisters, which I think is great, but I really wish they'd take toys. As you said, some kid would LOVE these basically untouched toys that my kids ignore, and I would be thrilled to be able to give them.

Meg said...

I almost always agree with your every word, TC, but on this one I have to disagree. I think that even poor children deserve new toys and stuffed animals at the holidays. It is hard enough to be a parent that has to depend on others to provide holiday gifts for your kids, but even harder to if they can only have some other child's castoffs. Having a tag or a crisp, not squished, ribbon on a stuffy is important in a gift. A very young child may not notice, but an older child and all of the moms, would notice.

I bet there are many places that would take good quality used toys (preschools, daycare centers, shelters) but probably not stuffed animals. Part of this is sanitation - many stuffed animals can't be thrown in the washer. Also, most families have a ridiculous number of stuffed animals and the recipients may be overwhelmed.

I think it is fine to give used toys in situations in which a group of kids will be using the item. But for an individual gift, new is better.

If its too expensive or stressful to donate at this time of year, don't. Many agencies find a huge dropoff in giving after the holidays and would probably be delighted to receive food, clothes and toys in February.

Green said...

You know, this is an interesting topic. I was made to take excellent care of all my belongings. I never was allowed to drag my baby blanket around the house. I wasn't the type of kid to draw on a doll, or drool on a teddy bear. So the quality of my "used" stuffed animals was prety high.

But I've babysat for a LOT of different families, and not all kids take care of their belongings that way. My friend's kid plays with her things HARD - she does things to her toys that never would have even occurred to me at all.

So it makes sense to me that they give out a blanket "we only accept new" because they can't know if they'll get my kind of used, or that other kind of used.

But yeah, it still blows. You could always just throw an ad up on Craigslist to give your extra stuffed animals away.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Meg's comments - charitable giving is supposed to be about filling a need for the recipient, rather than addressing the needs of the giver. If the perceived need of the organization is for new stuff, for whatever reason (sanitation, or desire to give the kids new toys for pride/self-esteem, or whatever) that just means you use that information to decide whether you want to direct your charity to those recipients. It's not a commentary on the potential donors.