School projects.

You either love them or you hate them.

Guess which camp I am in?

Last month was a busy month for school projects. We’d worked hard creating ginormous maps of fantasy lands and accompanying artifacts central to the story. We spent countless hours building a fictitious character entirely out of soap products. We wrote pages and pages of journals and essays to accompany.

WE WERE DONE.

Or so we thought.

But fate (i.e. sadistic language arts teachers) would have another plan for us. Let me just say, it is a sad, sad day to be a parent when your child dumps the dreaded end-of-year project into your lap. When I read the requirements for each of the assignments my children handed me, I died a little inside.

Not to state the obvious, but every parent knows that their “child’s assignment” is actually their assignment. Meaning, the parent never really gets off the hook. Like it or not, we’re in it for every single moment of torture.

I realize that some parents are pros at coaching their children through these affairs. Some even leave their kids on their own demonstrating a true “sink or swim” parenting philosophy. I’m not like that. (As much as I try to be, believe me.) I always end up in the muck and the mire. In the thick of the cajoling, gluing, cutting, practicing and assembling.

Oh how I dislike educators during those long project work sessions. (What? At least I am being honest.)

So it turns out that both boys had a ridiculous project to complete within days of each other:

  • A living museum project as John Paul Jones (father of the American Navy)
  • A characterization model of Martin Luther King Jr.

The living museum project required my youngest to write and recite from memory a multi-paragraph speech in first person to be presented in costume at a school event complete with visual aids, a display board and an “on button” to begin his presentation with. Two things about this project terrified me – the “in costume” requirement and the phrase “recite from memory.” I don’t know about you, but I don’t have that many “father of the American Navy” costumes just lying around. And…. I DON’T SEW. However, thanks to Facebook, I was actually able to score a Revolutionary War getup. Yes, someone actually owns one. (I know, right?)  As for the “recite from memory” part…. TORTURE. No other word for it. Over and over and over and over and fighting and bickering and cajoling. I purchased wine just to get through that project. I’m not even a little ashamed to admit that.

As for my oldest son’s project? We had to create a model of good ole MKL Jr. out of a two liter bottle of soda.

Let me say that again…. OUT OF A TWO LITER BOTTLE OF SODA.

Now, surely this heroic, iconic man deserved a better tribute then to be memorialized using a soda bottle? But alas, a soda bottle the project required. Not only that, the model had to contain at least five physical traits of the character and at least five personality traits. WTH?

That was when I realized I had to call in backup. MY MOTHER. I figured, if anyone could come up with a creative solution, it was my mom.

She saved my life.

And my son’s grade.

Here’s the thing… I am not creative. I’m just not. I mean, I can glue. I can tape stuff. I just had absolutely no idea how to complete that project and neither did my son.

But Mom-Mom did. She whipped us around JoAnne Fabrics throwing Styrofoam, popsicle sticks, felt, yarn and fabric remnants into the cart. I mean, it was out of control. And for the assembly, she carefully guided my son through the process with gentle suggestions and firm reprimands. When he strayed, she took control.

I just stood by and did what I was told. (Despite being wounded a damn glue gun and straight pins. I figure it is a small price to pay for having not having a creative bone in my body.)

And voila! This is what came of it:

Some assembly required?

Brilliant, right? And she didn’t lose her temper or anything. I’m thinking of renting her out to bring in a little extra cash. Give me a call if you need a little extra sanity…