A Whale of a Project


Andy has his first big school project due next week. The 2nd graders are all doing a big animal report. He has chosen the Killer Whale. (Or, as Andy would correct me, “The Orca.”)

Each student has to turn in a written report, do a presentation in front of the class and create some sort of visual aid. Part of me is really excited for Andy to have a big project to sink his teeth into–show his creativity. The other part of me is trying really hard to suppress the memories of stomach knots and dread I used to feel when I was in school and had a big project due.

My junior high teachers thought it would be nefarious, I mean, hilarious if they made the year’s biggest projects all due November 1st–the day after Halloween. I spent two Halloweens in a row bent over the keyboard of my parents tiny Macintosh computer in full costume regalia, sweating out the verbiage and making final edits, wishing like crazy I could be out there with my friends trick-or-treating (even though we were way too old for that sort of thing.) Each ring of our doorbell mocked my pain. Ha ha. Really funny. What 12 year old doesn’t love a good, spoon fed lesson in procrastination?

Paul still had a year left of college after I graduated with my bachelor’s degree (we married young.) I remember that first Sunday night when he had school and I didn’t. He was categorizing his notes and making break down charts for his study group and looking anxious. Me? I was a carefree chocolate chip cookie baker that evening, humming in my apron and all. Ah, the freedom. No assignments looming over my head, no tests on the horizon…Just be clocked in and plopped in my cubicle by 9am. It was a simple time.

Fast forward 10 years and I’ve got school projects knocking on my door once again. I can hear Beethoven’s 5th playing now: ba ba ba BUM…..I know, I know, this is Andy’s project. He should be excited and I should stay out of it. And I plan to, as much as I can. But how is he supposed to build a killer whale pinata, or diorama, or clay sculpture, or mobile, without any help?

I think we all had at least one kid in our class whose dad was an architect? I can remember when my sugar cube model of the Santa Barbara Mission, constructed with great care and a healthy amount of Elmer’s glue, looked…well, lack-luster next to it’s built-to-scale counterpart made by the kid (i.e., his dad) in front of me. There has to be a happy medium.

I wonder what time Home Depot closes?

2 responses »

  1. welcome to the world of “parent homework”, Yes, it is andy’s project, but how the teachers expect kids to do this is beyond me. you will be doing much of the work yourself. helping research, Proofreading, shopping for materials, weilding the dangerous tools (hot glue guns, etc) staying up the late hours, sitting next to him at the kitchen table… whether it looks like andy did most of the work or not, you’ll get to log in your hours.

  2. I am not looking forward to the “Sunday night blues” again when jack starts to have homework. You captured all the emotion of school homework and projects perfectly. I bet Andy is gonna rock the orca project!

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