This is admittedly kind of a braggy post. But, it’s because I want everyone to know what a great job Matt is doing.
A month into being the parents of five children, we feel like we’re doing pretty well under the circumstances (assuming you don’t judge based on the cleanliness of one’s kitchen floor), but by far the hardest part is the PROJECTS. Since Thomas was born, our two oldest kids have had a major book report, one pinewood derby, and two science fair projects. We can keep up with the day-to-day homework, laundry, dishes, etc., but the projects are wearing us out. Since my main project right now is breastfeeding (I figure I spend close to four hours a day in this important pursuit), Matt has taken on the bulk of the project support, and he’s done a darn good job. My dad can’t figure out why our kids need so much help with stuff like this, and I’m sure his dad never helped him with anything, but life has changed, and based on my conversations with other mothers, most modern grade school kids don’t accomplish these things without help.
We try to be as low-key as possible, especially when we have a brand-new baby. We want our kids to learn, and to do an adequate job, but we’re not trying to be the stars or winners of any of these project experiences. That’s why I’ve gotten a big kick out of the following:
1. Sam’s “Salt Crystal” science project won third place in his grade, qualifying him for the district level (drat! one more thing to do). Interestingly, Ben’s near-identical project (this is the first time having them at two different schools has actually saved us time) didn’t place. He wanted to know if we could find out what all of the first-place projects were so he could do one of those next year. I was pleased to learn that what put Sam ahead of several more-impressive projects was his interview. This is where the judges find out if the parents really did the project, or if the kids knew what was going on and why.
2. Pinewood derby preparations are so far out of our comfort zone, it’s practically painful. We don’t have power tools, we don’t know how to use tools, we’re not crafty, tooly people. Ben’s car this year was the fourth one for our family (I figure we’ll make seven more before our boys finish with cub scouting), and our kids have typically been awarded “most creative” or “most unique” or some other euphemism for “not very fast or very cool.” Imagine our surprise this time when the car that created a week of pure stress and consternation, which Matt was just finishing the morning of the race, won second place in the entire pack! Ben was over the moon, and I think Matt was pretty pleased with himself.
3. At age 11, Sam has already mastered the fine art of procrastination, frequently leaving the bulk of a month-long project for the night before. I keep trying to help him manage his time better, but have only been marginally successful. His recent book report had both Matt and I in full nagging mode for about a week. We tried to be helpful, but left the real work up to him. And in spite of finishing the project the night before and the morning of the due date, Sam’s teacher gave him 100%! But when will he learn the hard lesson not to procrastinate?! Matt reminded me that I still procrastinate on big projects. Fair enough.
What a relief. We are hoping to have a little respite from big projects for at least a few weeks. Soon I’ll have to come up with a costume for Sam’s school play, but since he’s a townsperson this year and not a walrus, I think I can manage.