For Some Parents, Giant School Projects are a Nightmare

Parenting is difficult. Almost every day, we parents face new
challenges. But most of us muddle through. We teach our children to
walk, talk and stop biting the other kids. And then one day, all of
our good work is shot down because our children bring home a school
project.
Parenting is difficult. Almost every day, we parents face new challenges. But most of us muddle through. We teach our children to walk, talk and stop biting the other kids. And then one day, all of our good work is shot down because our children bring home a school project.

Oh, sure. There are some strange parents – those who have planned their kids fourth-grade mission project since before the children were born. These parents roam the aisles of local craft stores while their tikes are still in utero, dreaming of the massive art projects in their future.

I’m telling you, those parents have something wrong with them. Who else would dream of the day that their child ran home with a homework assignment that required many trips to the craft store, an Xacto knife and a hot glue gun? Not to mention a note from the teacher asking that the project be the handiwork of the child.

Of course it should be. Because I live to watch my son wield a sharp knife and hot glue the dog to the kitchen floor.

Look, nobody lets their kids do the school project by themselves. Some, like the craft parents, exist only to create such projects. They’ve researched dioramas and have shoeboxes hidden in the closet in anticipation of this glorious project. They’ve investigated each mission carefully and stockpile homemade hay bales. You can bet that any project their children bring to school will look like Martha Stewart stepped in to “assist.” In fact, the first time their children touch the project is the day they carry it to school.

On the other end of the spectrum, you have parents like me. I cannot draw. I cannot paint. I even stick stickers on crooked. And I don’t have any shoeboxes or hay bales in my closet. But I help my child through the school project nightmare because of one thing: I’m scared to death of a 9-year-old with an Xacto knife.

Look, I’ve spent years saying, “Don’t touch, it’s hot,” or, “Don’t touch, it’s sharp.” Why would I suddenly arm my child with lethal weapons? I prefer to help out and lie like a rug to the teacher when asked if Junior did the entire project alone.

Oh, unless Junior’s teacher is reading this, of course. Then I want to assure you that Junior did his recent project entirely by himself. And you probably should just stop reading this right now and head on over to the cooking column where she has some yummy recipes today.

Anyway, for the rest of you, I’m not going to lie. I help. Heaven knows what would happen if I didn’t. Take Junior’s recent foray into shipbuilding. His class had to build one of Columbus’ ships – in Junior’s case, the little-known fourth galleon called “The Bloody Pirate.” Please don’t ask. I did, and I was sorry.

Anyway, the ship was really nice. Junior did tons of it, except the aforementioned Xacto knife portion. And then came the hot glue part. Junior felt he was ready to assume responsibility for it. Needless to say, I didn’t feel quite as ready. So I glued the pirates where Junior told me to glue them. And the ship was done.

Until Junior got up early the next morning, found the hot glue gun and added some authentic pirate skeletons attacking the galleon. I have to admit, it looked really cool, because what’s a pirate ship if you don’t have skeletons attacking it?

And, most importantly, Junior did manage to use the glue gun without burning the house down.

Unfortunately, it is really, really hard to get hot glue off cabinets. And the couch. But I’m sure I can learn to love having a frying pan glued to the stove. It might actually be handy, although a little difficult to clean.

But I realized – after Junior left for school with “The Bloody Pirate” and after I had a lovely breakfast of seven aspirin and a shot of tequila – that Junior was growing up. And that he did need to do his own projects, without me hindering him.

And then I remembered that in a couple of months, the mother of all school projects would be assigned: the California Mission model. But that’s OK, too. I think I can get through it – provided I have more than aspirin and tequila to help me along. That’s probably going to take a good shoe sale, an extensive wine tasting and several visits to a day spa.

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