My oldest daughter is highly motivated by extrinsic rewards. Ultimately, this means that when her elementary school launched a fundraiser for which the top cookie dough sellers could win a free limo ride to a pizza shop for lunch, she immediately was on board. (Let me pause to point out the obvious: prizes for fundraising have become exponentially classier since I was in school.)
So, like supportive parents of a budding door-to-door salesperson and aspiring limousine-rider, my husband and I spent several evenings escorting her through the neighborhood as she gave her doorstop pitch and filled up her order form. Consequently, a few days ago I spent another evening driving throughout the neighborhood, all three kids in tow, to deliver handmade thank you notes and the twenty tubs of frozen cookie dough that our good-natured neighbors had purchased.
By the end of the evening after exiting and entering the minivan twenty times (which never is a streamlined activity, especially when accompanied by children), we still had six undelivered tubs of frozen cookie dough in the back of the van.
To expedite this story, let me insert a brief timeline of events:
Nearly one day later: My husband asks how the delivery had gone. I think, "Delivery? What delivery? Oh, the cookie delivery..." before answering, "Yeah, a few neighbors weren't home so we never finished that. I left the rest of the boxes in the back of the van."
Twenty seconds later: Googling of "safe temperature for frozen cookie dough."
Five seconds later: A sentence is uttered by my husband that contains nuggets like "the garage had to reach at least 50 degrees" and "potential foodborne illnesses" and "unsuspecting neighbors."
Two seconds later: I think, "Come on; nobody will die," but recognize that it might appear a bit callous to verbalize this much lack of concern for the physical wellness of the very people who just shelled out $16 to buy cookies from my kid.
One second later: I crumple into my seat with the dawning realization that this is one of those mistakes that'll lead me to sheepishly return to my neighbors and pay them back for the stupid, overpriced, now-thawed-and-ruined tubs of cookie dough that I'll toss into my trash can to prevent salmonella poisoning all in the name of ethical fundraising.
Now, a well-adjusted person might think that $96 is a relatively small price to pay for the peace of mind that you're not poisoning your neighbors, but apparently I'm not well-adjusted enough.
Whether accidental or not, I hate the thought of wasting money. It grates at the center of my thrifty, squeeze-every-ounce-of-toothpaste, make-every-dollar-count mentality. It forces me to grapple with issues deeper than the dollars themselves -- my inability to control every situation, my imperfection despite good intentions. It confronts me with the choice to either beat myself up (which I did for a day) or to acknowledge the error, trust God with my financial well-being, cut the losses, and move on healthily, which is where I ultimately arrived after a near textbook-like progression through the five stages of grief.
It began with denial (I tell you, the cookie dough is fine), then moved to anger (stupid PTO fundraiser), then bargaining (how risky is warm-ish raw cookie dough really?), depression (I suck), and finally, acceptance (it's okay; it's just money; all is well).
Yes, all that from a half-dozen tubs of raw cookie dough.
* That "free" limo ride and lunch? Goal attained; it's happening this week.
DISCLAIMER: No neighbors have been harmed in the making of this blog post. Just my pride and bank account.