That Special Joy When Another Mom Notifies You Just How Oblivious Your Kid Is

That Special Joy When Another Mom Notifies You Just How Oblivious Your Kid Is -- Honestly, are ALL kids procrastinators or do some kids have a special knack for being COMPLETELY OBLIVIOUS? #funny

So then…she nibbles the walnut brownie I baked and comments on how nicely Tucker and her son Andrew, both age 11, are playing basketball in our backyard.

I beam. This is the first time Linda’s son has come over.  (I’d even tidied up the house and baked some “get-to-know-you” brownies.)

“They’ve had a great afternoon,” I say. “Thanks for letting Andrew come home with us after school. Tucker’s really enjoyed hanging out with him.”

Linda nods, picks up Andrew’s backpack, and heads for the patio door to collect her son. She says, “Yeah, I almost had to cancel though, because Andrew hadn’t made enough progress on his International Fair project yet. But he did a lot last night, so he’s in pretty good shape.”

My pulse quickens. What International Fair project? I ask.

She looks at me as though I’m joking. “The one that’s due Monday.”

Today is Friday.

“Oh, is that, like an optional project, like for a Science Fair, or something?” I ask hopefully.

She turns to me, backpack on her shoulder, and says, “No, this is the big 6th grade History project they’ve supposed to have been working on all semester. Surely Tucker’s told you about it?”

I’m sure I’m turning bright red from embarrassment – and bright white from panic.

“Um, no, he hasn’t mentioned it. What’s due on Monday?”

Well, now she sets the backpack down and turns her attention completely toward me, and braces herself to tell me some very bad news.

“OK, each child picks a country, then they need to write a report on 6 topics of that country, like climate, cuisine, politics, religion, stuff like that.”

I gulp.  Sweat forms on my brow.

International Fair Darcy Concern
“Each report has to be typed up and pasted on a tri-fold poster board with artwork and photos,” she continues.

“Well, um, OK,” I stammer. “I..I think we can work on that this weekend. I can run to the crafts store for the poster board. We can probab-“

“Get the flag materials there too,” she interrupts.

“There’s a flag?” I ask.

“Yes, and a costume.”


“Yes, this is why they gave the kids all semester to work on it! They need to make that country’s flag out of fabric and put it on a stick because they’ll carry it in the procession. Then they also need to wear a costume that’s native to the country – it can be homemade, or maybe you have a friend or family member who has something from that country, or—“

She stops as she sees me sit down, about to hyperventilate.

I whisper, “I don’t even know what his country is.”

She winces.

International Fair Linda Explains
“OK, look, I hate to keep going, but you should know the kids also need to cook an authentic dish from their country.” She blurts it out very quickly like she’s ripping off a band-aid. “And they need to have enough bite-size servings for 40 students because all the 6th graders and their parents are invited to the International Fair – which is Monday.” Then super-fast she says, “And it’s 25% of their grade.”

She picks up the backpack again and turns toward the patio door. She looks back at me and I see indecision on her face. Should she flee the scene? Grab her son and run away, kissing him all over for having the good sense to tell her about the International Fair project months ago?

Or should she stay and comfort a fallen comrade in the Mommy Wars?

Please, my eyes beg her. Don’t abandon me. Explain more about this International Fair of which you speak. Help me, guide me, tell me my son’s frikking country, something, anything, for God’s sake. What’s your son’s country? Can our sons choose the same country? Can my son join your son and share his flag and his tri-fold and his cuisine? I beg of you…

Of course I don’t say any of those words out loud. But she can see them in my eyes. So she pats me on the shoulder, opens the patio door, and calls for Andrew.

The boys come running in. Linda says a nervous goodbye to an oblivious Tucker, hastily thanks me, hustles Andrew out the door, and snags another brownie on her way out.

Bitch. She annihilates me AND still has time to take a treat?

I shouldn’t have thought that. Of course she’s not a bitch. Why shoot the messenger when there is somebody much more appropriate to receive my wrath?

As the front door closes, I turn to Tucker, narrow my eyes, and ask in a chillingly low voice, “Did you know there was an International Fair project due on Monday?”

He stuffs a brownie bite in his mouth and says brightly, “Yeah, but it’s like a Science Fair or something – it’s optional.

I grip the handles of the chair. “Tucker.It.Is.Not.Optional.It.Is.25%.Of.Your.Grade!”

He shrugs, says, “Huh,” and takes another bite.

I look at him with wonder that this truly carefree child emanated from the womb of a Type A hyper-organized, compulsive pre-planner like myself.

“Linda said the teachers have been talking about this International Fair all semester. Did you think they would spend that much time talking about an optional project?” I ask.

He screws up his face and lifts his shoulders in a gesture of Hey, who knows what’s on the minds of those crazy teachers?

International Fair Tucker Shrugging
I take a breath. “Tucker,” I say. “Do you even know what country you have? And if you chose a country, what did you think you were choosing it FOR, since you thought the project was optional?

He finishes the last bite of the brownie and says, “Oh yeah, I chose Mexico. I thought it was like ‘Hey, where would you like to visit if you could pick any country?’ And I picked Mexico because I love Mexican food.”

“Well, I’m glad you do, Tucker. I’m glad you do. Because you are going to be making Mexican food all weekend. And a flag and a costume and 6 reports! YOU ARE GOING TO BE ALL MEXICO ALL THE TIME FOR THE NEXT 48 HOURS!!”

And thus began one of the most painful, stressful weekends in the history of school projects.

Ay Caramba!

International Fair Tucker Color
— Darcy Perdu

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Original Illustrations for So Then Stories created by Shelly at Shell Graphics

(Any projects that snuck up on you or your kids? Any surprise tests? Or how about the “oh-yeah-I-need-36-cupcakes-for-school-tomorrow-Mom” at 9:00 at night? Share your Stories and Comments below! I LOVE to read them!)

International Fair Hearing the News Color

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38 replies on “That Special Joy When Another Mom Notifies You Just How Oblivious Your Kid Is

  1. DeeEmKaye said:

    I must reflect on my own behavior. I’ve DEFINITELY, MORE THAN ONCE, pulled the “oh yeah ma, I need 5 trillion authentic whatchamacallits, within the next couple hours.” One time in particular, it was some cream for a colonial American unit. College professor and Saint that she is, she made an impromptu lesson out of it. She explained to the teacher what had happened (basically her kid was a p.o.s)and then proceeded to get all my classmates involved in the mixing and shaking into cream-complete with pictures to pass around, and music to shake to. Everyone thought it was fun to shake the jar, and probably all the shaking killed the sugar rush we all had from the sweets we’d already consumed. I know I tested her patience-but in retrospect I still can’t thank her enough for how well she handled that!

  2. Judy said:

    This is such a precious story. Growing up I hated mentioning any school projects to my parents (read: mom) because they would just shriek and bemoan about all the work they had to do and why did they expect parents to do all the work and what were they paying those teachers for anyway?! So I fuddled every single project on my own except making a Trojan horse model which for some reason my mom really got into and we made it out of recycled items-gallon milk jug and a lightbulb head. I really remember that project and the good times I had with my mom. I wonder if she was medicated or something?

  3. OMG… Yours was way worse than mine…
    It’s Friday (always is with these things)… my son comes home with a box that has some wheels and a frame that kid of resembles a car of sorts and says… Dad, can you help me…

    Sure my child, I say with that “I am Super Dad” look. He explains to me that they have to make this “Mouse Trap” car for City Wide Science Olympiad tomorrow (he is 11 btw).

    I say son, haven’t you been going to science club or something for a few weeks and working with a partner to get ready for this? And where is your partner anyway (the one whose Mom is the School’s head of the Olympiad team)?

    My son says that his partner is at home and his mom is busy getting ready for tomorrow so she doesn’t have time to help him… and he’s been out a lot lately. My son says, “I don’t have a project and we need to compete tomorrow.”

    Umm, GRRRRRR, I AM LIVID… why do you always wait until the last minute… why didn’t you x, why not Y, you were playing video games all last night… BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH!!! I think to myself before I have a aneurysm, calm down…ok, it’s like 7 PM, we can do this before tomorrow.. Let me go look up what a mousetrap car is and what we are supposed to be building.

    We spend all night (ok, really only about 4-5 hours but it really felt longer) working on it. We tested it and we were amazed it really worked — and worked well. I showed him some things that could go wrong and how to fix them and off to bed we go.

    We get there in the morning along with 5K other kids, and I meet the mom of the partner who says her son should be here soon… and did my son get the car done? (I am like WOW. No Shame…) but yes, we did.

    My son was also in Math Olympiad that day as well (yep, he likes to sign up for stuff). We go check in and his partner shows up and takes the car to lock up until the competition.

    Teacher (partner mom) says that my son’s schedule has changed and explains to us what it is now — and that he will have to move quickly from Math to car races to make it in time for competition as it is in another part of the building.

    2.5 hours later my son calls me all upset.. Apparantly MRS. OLYMPIAD got the times wrong and my son was in Math during the race competition. She sent her son to go do it but he had no idea how it worked. He tried it and it broke and he couldn’t fix it and they got skipped over. My son is REALLY upset… I ask to speak to Mrs. Olympiad and he hands her phone.

    She says… I messed up the schedule. I say we spent 5 hours on that. She says, it didn’t work anyway, according to my son… I lose it on the phone as he has never used it and hadn’t even seen it… after about 2 minutes of me demonstrating my verbal repertoire she says ok and hands phone to son… he says come get me. I am done!!

    I go to pick him up, can’t find MRS. Olympiad anywhere… cause I had not yet begin to FIGHT… My son says… dad, she left… How do you know? I say…

    He says, right after I hung up with you, I asked if she was ok, she said “Apparently your dad isn’t my biggest fan right now and I will be sure to be elsewhere when he arrives.”

    We laugh now… but at the time… WHEW!!!

    OH, NICE!!!
    Terry Reese recently posted..Google Introduces New Free Keyword Planning Tool | FreeInternetSecrets.comMy Profile

    • Terry, I was transfixed during your whole story! That is so funny and so terrible at the same time! I would have gone bat-sh*t crazy if I spent 5 hours making a car with my son, only to have the non-participating “partner” break it and my son miss the race due to partner’s mom messing up the schedule! At least she had the good sense to vacate the area before you came barreling in to further elaborate on the error of her ways!
      Darcy recently posted..We’ve Been Robbed! (And My Spouse is Ready to Name Names!)My Profile

        • terri said:

          Oh, the mousetrap car for Science Olympiad! Yep, up until 2:00 am the morning of with my 8th grader getting that blasted thing done! She and her partner had spent weeks “designing” it but had done almost no actual construction. She really thought it would take 20 minutes to assemble.

          • Oh, I feel your pain!
            As for your daughter — I totally get it — designing is always way more fun than actually doing it! :)

  4. April said:

    Yeah. Mine was “I have to do a project on Uranus. On poster board. And a powerpoint presentation with pictures. And I need to research. it’s due Monday” Did you know, that even the books say Uranus is the MOST boring planet? Oh, and the powerpoint thing? Yeah. We don’t have a computer.

    • Ouch! That DOES sound like a boring planet!

      My kid would probably choose Uranus as the topic just because it sounds funny, then try to work the word “butt” into the report as much as possible.
      Darcy recently posted..Seriously — WORST Carpool Ever!My Profile

  5. Mary Lou said:

    OMG My hair would turn completely grey having that experience.

  6. Crystal said:

    My daughter is hyper organized and has her projects done weeks in advance, thankfully. My boss’s daughter however… well, because they are in the same grade (different schools though), they have a lot of the same types of projects. My daughter’s Missions of California project earned her an A++ because of the colorful 5 page report, excess of photos from our visit to a local mission and the posterboard sized 3D replica of the mission. Complete with farm animals, a cemetery, a garden, fountains and vineyard (hello $60 worth of little plastic accessories >.< )…. so when my boss's daughter mentioned to him that SHE had a mission project due the week after my daughter had turned hers in, my boss offered to buy my daughter's.

    My daughter refused. She was far too proud of her creation to sell it. I was tempted though…

    • Crystal, good for you daughter for having integrity! (However, selling it WOULD have helped offset your craft store expenses! My daughter LOVES to go the craft store when she has projects to do! Ka-ching! Ka-ching! Her dad jokingly offered to sell her 17th century stone house to a neighbor whose kid would be taking the same class the next year, but no go. Here’s a rendering of the house in case anyone’s interested:

  7. KAte said:

    I never let my big things get this bad — I procrastinated, but always got them done myself.

    My brother, on the other hand, pulled things like this all the time. My Mom being a teacher herself made him do all the work. She hung over him like a hawk and badgered him, but she refused to do any of the work.

    I’m kind of looking forward to the day when I can tell my own kid, “Oh man, guess you should have planned better. You’ve got a lot of work to do!”

    • I notice the same difference between my daughter (planner) and my son (huh? what?) — maybe it is a boy-girl thing — maybe they’re just hard-wired differently when it comes to planning & prep!

  8. I don’t remember doing this with a really big project, but I do remember a similar situation with a book report. It was due on Monday. On Sunday, I realized a) I hadn’t finished the book and b) the book was in my locker at school. My mother wound up driving me halfway across town to a bookstore that was open and that also had the book in stock. (I’m not that old, and I don’t live out in the boonies, but I think this was at a time when a lot of stores were closed on Sundays, and the big chain bookstores didn’t exist yet, so it wasn’t that easy to find a copy of this book.) My mother was not pleased.

    • Yes, I remember those days when stores down South were closed on Sundays. These days, my kids can look up a lot of stuff online — summaries of books, cliffs notes, etc. But we HAVE had to drive to school a few weekend mornings to gather those books that somehow were left behind in the locker!

    • Cay said:

      My daughter did this once. It was last year though, and I was able to purchase the book very cheap on my e-reader account.

      I made her pay me back for the price of the book though, and she hasn’t forgotten another book since.

      • Ooooo, I like that you had her pay you back! Nice lesson, mama! I need to do more of that kind of thing around here!

  9. Erica Bee said:

    Wow. My girls are only 3 but I think I would have let them tank. Make them work all weekend and just take what is completed. No reason for the parents to get stressed about it. High school gpa is what colleges look at. And what a silly topic for such a huge project. I always found the info kids would find in books to be so superficial of the country they are studying. You have to be there and talk to people who’ve experienced living there to really know a country.

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  11. Sharla said:

    Wow! At least you had someone to tell you. My 2nd grade daughter was given a GT project that they had been “working on” during her Gifted & Talented period at school. (Every day for the ENTIRE SEMESTER!!) 1.5 hours x 5 days a week x however many $*#%&$%^@!! weeks in a semester = almost done, just needs finishing touches right? WRONG! Not only did the teacher not explain a durn thing correctly to the kids, she told them their messy, misspelled, 15 million directional project was great and the proceeded to help her son do a perfect project. (Picture Taz steaming after eating a hot pepper and you have a picture of what I looked like when my daughter brought home her binder and work) We had exactly 2 days to redo EVERYTHING and turn it in. I promptly called my daughter’s teacher (who also had a child in the GT class) and was like WTF??!! She said I know, right?! After much freaking out and lots of *cough*Tres Generaciones tequila*cough* I finally managed to make headway figuring out the instructions and we spent 8 hours fixing it. Showed up the next night to “present” the project and I noticed that all of the parents looked a little hung over. After some subtle (okay maybe not so subtle) questioning, I found out that I wasn’t the only one who had a problem with this project. On the plus side, I finally found out which parents I could hang out with. (Hint-the hung-over ones!) Also found out which parents don’t give a durn by seeing their kids terrible projects. Oh, and the teacher, her kid’s project was perfect..jerk-faces!

    I did follow up by emailing the principal, superintendent, and the director of GT. Outcome – new principal, GT teacher, and new program outlines.

    • Yikes! I can’t believe the teacher helped her own kid and let the others hang out to dry! Taz eating a hot pepper indeed!

  12. Frankie said:

    Let me just say Boo on Tucker’s part for not paying attention. But I draw the line on costume and cuisine. Do these teachers know the attention span of kids? I mean parents work and cook and it’s like home economics again! Darcy, you are a hell of woman to make that miracle happen.

    • not sure WHAT those teachers are thinking! I saw a friend post on FB that her son’s class was assigned a project that required each child to research photos online and create a poster — and he is only FOUR years old! yikes!

    • I agree, Debbie! That’s just WAY too much for a kid that age to do for a school project!

  13. Oh my goodness. I’m having a panic attack just thinking about it.

    My son had essentially the same project a few years ago (plus he had to build a “structure” from that country. As he picked France, he and his father spent two weeks making a freaking castle out of cardboard and Styrofoam). Fortunately, the teachers were on top of him and all went well.

    I think in your situation, I would just move in the dead of night to another jurisdiction.
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    • Bwahaha! “move to another jurisdiction!” YES! That’s hilarious!
      And less painful than that insane weekend of last-minute school project madness!!