Wanna Buy Some Stuff? Huh? Pu-leeze?

The other evening I was working at my computer when the doorbell rang.

I opened the door and there on the stoop was a tiny elfin child — no bigger than a minute, with long, Palomino-colored hair and immense blue eyes.

She squirmed a bit, then blurted out, “Would you like to buy some chocolate candy?”

No details as to the type of candy, the price, or which organization she was selling for.

I glanced toward the driveway and met the watchful eye of her mother, who was sitting astride a bicycle and waiting for the sales call to be over so they could move on to the next victim er, prospect.

As it turns out, I didn’t want or need any candy — chocolate or not — so I had to turn her down as kindly as possible. My days of purchasing useless stuff ended when My Favorite Domer graduated from high school. And I won’t have to be a sucker  customer again until Domer marries and has little Domers of his own.

W-a-a-y down the road!

Then it struck me — school hasn’t been in session two weeks and already, our little ones are being indoctrinated in the ways of salesmanship.

Armed with order sheets, their tiny heads filled with pictures of exciting things they can “earn” if they sell enough, they’re being turned loose on an unsuspecting public and encouraged to peddle.

Domer had to do it, too. But he was in so many activities that it became embarrassing to accompany him on the rounds of the neighborhood. So we purchased enough for him to get a small prize and, if he had to do without the “awesome light-up doo dad” or whatever, well, I knew he’d survive.

I had to do it, too, and hated it. My sister would go behind me, and the homeowners who told me they were on diets and couldn’t buy cookies or candy, mysteriously bought from her! She always talked a better game than I did.

It worries me to see a tiny tot on my porch trying to sell stuff, even with a parent along. The world isn’t exactly a safe place, and I feel we should protect our kids from harm as much as possible — for as long as possible.

Besides, aren’t we already paying enough to educate our kids without turning them into beggars?

Any thoughts? How does your community handle this?

20 thoughts on “Wanna Buy Some Stuff? Huh? Pu-leeze?

  1. Well we part ways on this one….That’s ok, right? I love to have the neighbor kids stop by with stuff to sell and always try to buy something. Even tho the prices have certainly escalated over the years. We had an elf show up the other day in her best party dress selling jump rope chances–I think the pleasure of her company cost me $5.00. I use to joke that property taxes were nothing compared to living in a neighborhood surrounded by catholic schools. Band chocolate is the worst. But for me it’s not about need, it’s more about entrepreneurship and getting to know the kids in the neighborhood since Cole does not attend a neighborhood school and most of the kids are under 12.
    I’m sure the kids all know that I’m the neighbor lady that always buys something–what they may not know as they hop, skip and jump away is that they made my day.

    • Certainly it’s okay that we don’t 100% agree — you’re such a nice person, Katybeth, for giving of yourself (and your money) to these kids’ causes! I might have been more inclined to buy, too, if she hadn’t had the misfortune of interrupting my work at a pretty critical point! That said, we always buy Band stuff. Always!

  2. I used to live in a house way down in the woods at the bottom of a steep driveway, with two big, scary (unless you knew them and were onto their ways) Doberman Pinschers. Shortly after I moved in, 12-year old Mikey showed up at the door, grinning from ear to ear. I didn’t even listen to his sales pitch. His smile that melted my heart and his courage in making it to our front door were all he needed. Every year he would report back to me that he’d been top seller and had won that year’s prize. I did not doubt this in the least.

  3. I’m with you Debbie, I didn’t like to do it when my kids were in school, I didn’t like to bother extended family with it, I don’t like to be asked, I don’t like to squirm at the door when they stop by, I don’t like to avoid eye contact with the girl scouts or boy scouts outside the doors of the supermarket. And I didn’t like going door to door for the years I was a girl scout selling cookies. I don’t think I have a salesman bone in my body.
    The only doorbell ringers I enjoy are the little ones in costumes on Halloween.

    • Instead of pushing our kids into the role of peddlers, perhaps we need to initiate an elective class in sales/marketing/entrepreneurship. That way, they’d at least get “credit” for their efforts, without foisting useless “prizes” on them. Sorry, I probably sound like an old grump, but the safety angle truly worries me. I’m blessed to live in a good neighborhood — what happens to the little ones who have to go door-to-door if theirs isn’t?

  4. Debbie, we solved the dilemma five years ago by moving out into the country! But before that I usually bought from the neighborhood kids-popcorn, cookie dough, etc. When I was working, I was deluged with coworkers’ requests for orders for their children and grandchildren. I solved that by retiring! But now I have seven grandsons who will be peddling so I can’t escape that. No excuses! I do hear your concern about safety though.

    • You solved your dilemma in very creative ways, Kathy! I don’t think I’m up for moving again, though, not for a while, and I’m certainly not ready to retire!! I understand it’s in the grandparents’ manual that you have to buy the stuff your kids’ kids are selling — so clean out a closet or two and prepare to be inundated, ha!

  5. If you ask me, selling stuff is a necessary evil, Debbie. Public schools just don’t get enough money to cover their budgets, and I’ve known many a teacher who has had to pay for supplies for their classroom out of their pocket. So, yes, I bought my share of stuff while my kids were growing up. I still have tons of gift wrap (need some?). The frozen pizzas they sold and the cookie dough were quite good. The tons of magazine subscriptions I could have probably done without. My kids didn’t really go door to door though. They just sold their wares to me, friends and family. My co-workers, too. All in a good day’s work!

    • At least you had some interesting things to buy! I’ve still got candles and paper napkins and wrapping paper, ha! How much of that stuff does one household really need??? I understand the budgetary constraints though, and in today’s economy, that’s not getting one bit better.

  6. Debbie, I’m finally coming up for a breath of fresh air from cleaning, restocking the fridge, and helping Roxy through a “mini” depression brought on by our return to silence. Poor thing misses the noise, the smells, Olivia, my mother’s screeching! hee hee! But back to your post–I hated having to supervise my kids while they peddled cookies, chocolate, and even sugared peanuts. Dear Lord, I’m so glad those days are over. When other children came over to sell their “wares,” I tried to contribute as much as I could. But like you, there came a time when this too had to stop. I agree with you–schools should not prompt children to sell anything, for whatever reason. Whatever happened to PTA bake sales and fund raisers? I say, let’s allow our children to be children and last time I checked, a student’s profile did not include the duties of a door to door salesperson! 🙂

    • I’m glad you agree with me, Bella. I know parents are busy, but if they have to accompany their kids door-to-door (and they DO!), they might as well be baking with the kids and having a sale. Some communities hold huge garage sales as fundraisers — get rid of your junk and raise money for the schools. Sounds like a better idea to me. Anything but raising taxes — those are already too high!

  7. I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy the “schools don’t have enough money” routine. Schools have bad administrators and boards who make bad decisions, taking money away from instructional and other programs and then telling the kids and parents its up to them to make up the difference. I don’t think taxes need to be raised, either – but some budget trimming could make a big difference. I don’t have much issue at all with teacher salaries, but administrators with salaries in the high six figures and friends who’ve retired from teaching at 55 with guaranteed for life pensions that would make four years of income for me – well, it makes me breathe a little hard.

    Besides, if kids could spend the same time practicing an instrument, reading a book, learning equations or painting a picture that they spend tromping the streets, they’d be better off. So would their parents.

    I’m particularly irritated about this just now because yet another bond issue is being proposed in Houston to rebuild high schools. Not only are taxpayers being asked to increase classroom space because of the influx of illegals, there’s a conviction that things like glass brick walls, state of the art olympic sized pools and granite counter tops in the restrooms are necessary. It’s madness.

    OK. The soapbox is going back in the closet now, I promise. 😉

    • Oh, wow, you’ve raised some interesting and enlightening points! In my small town a few years back, our school board opted to raze all the neighborhood elementary schools, in favor of constructing two new immense facilities, one for each side of town. Now we’ve got buses and traffic like you wouldn’t believe — and I can’t imagine housing this many kids — even little kids — together is good for them. You’re so right about the administrative salaries and the early retirement, too — 55 should be far from retirement if a person is healthy, and the guarantee of a pension for life is insane. Feel free to rant any time (my friend Katybeth calls Tuesdays “Rant Day” (http://oddlovescompany.com/2012/08/august-28-2012-race-your-mouse-day-cherry-turnover-day/) and that works just fine for me!

  8. I’m not good at selling stuff. The kids don’t go door-to-door, either. A few of our neighbors, I know, but I know they are short on money and have their own issues – I couldn’t possibly ask them to buy something. If I take order forms to work I tell people not to feel obligated to buy. Now my parents…that’s where the gold mine is 🙂 Seriously though, they are good about supporting the fundraising. Last year, their school did a strange thing – they didn’t sell anything…they just asked for donations. Rather than pander for money, I wrote a $50 check out for each kid and turned in the envelope. Their goal money was raised and I didn’t feel like a beggar. (Groceries were tight for a few weeks, but oh well.)

    If kids are selling something I could possibly use at a reasonable price and they can tell me what group it’s for, I’ll often buy it. That being said, I really don’t like it when they set up tables outside the grocery store and they catch you coming AND going. Saying ‘no’ is bad enough, saying it twice just makes me feel awful 🙂

    • Ooh, I’m with you on the grocery store pandering! I confess I try to avoid their gaze and sneak in and out when a bunch of other people are going (or their tables are busy with kind-hearted buyers!) I love the idea of making freewill donations — that’s generally what the universities do, and it seems to work. We can all donate something at some point — nobody wants to be strong-armed into purchasing, though!

  9. Debbie,
    I love how you described the elfin child 🙂

    –when my kids were small, we told them they could ONLY sell candy, football tickets, etc.. to family. And that meant they could not sell a church either! Nope.

    This way, Mr. L and I did not feel obligated to buy from 1 million kids selling this and that all thru the year..


    I ALWAYS buy Girl Scout Cookies! Xxx

    • Thanks, Kim — you’re sweet to buy Girl Scout cookies. I wasn’t a Girl Scout, so I always buy from the Band!! I appreciate your taking time to present your viewpoint!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.