Who’s Singin’ the “How the Hell Is This School Project Gettin’ Done in Time” Blues?

So then…both my kids announce brand new huge projects that must be completed before the school year ends — which is just a couple weeks away — and I suspect these projects weren’t assigned today.

Of course, this reminds me of the School Project to End All School Projects, so I’ll share this here just in case any of you are singin’ the “How the Hell Is This School Project Gettin’ Done in Time” Blues!

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? SoThenStories.com #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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18 replies on “Who’s Singin’ the “How the Hell Is This School Project Gettin’ Done in Time” Blues?

  1. Oh boy.

    I just have to say… cases like this, homicide would be completely justifiable. No jury would ever convict you!
    William Kendall recently posted..First BloomsMy Profile

  2. Robin said:

    If you want a “last minute” horror story…I have one for you. My son is a Senior in high school. He has pulled good grades all through school. Even took honors classes for several years. 8 weeks ago the 2nd quarter grades started creeping in (we keep track of our kids’ grades online) and they were horrendous. F’s all across the board. We tell him to get it together. He agrees. Weeks pass….grades go DOWN. The boy had a 12% in English. 12%!!!!!! With those grades, he was not going to get the required last 1/2 credits required and would NOT graduate! As of last Friday, he still had 3 F’s. He had to pull at least 60% for his combined grades to be passing for the semester. He swore he was turning things in and trying to get it all caught up. Graduation is now THIS Thursday. 48 hours away! I pulled his grades an hour ago….C, D and D. He did it. Unless he bombs his finals, he will graduate. These were required classes. His excuse…. “I procrastinated”. Ummm…you think????? We still have to wait until Thursday morning to know for sure, but unless he really blows it, he will get his diploma. It’s not like he struggled all the way through school, he just blew off the last quarter!

    • Omigod, Robin, I’d be climbing the walls! You must have been a nervous wreck these past few weeks!
      I’ve heard of kids getting “Senior-itis” at the end of their high school senior year and it’s hard for them to focus and give 100%, but HOLY COW, your son reallllly procrastinated! And I’m amazed he seems to be pulling it off JUST IN TIME to meet the graduation requirements!

      After being such a good student all these years, maybe he just wanted to add a little drama and suspense for you at the end so you can REALLY celebrate when he receives his diploma! Ha! YIKES! I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you for Thursday when you know for sure!

      • Robin said:

        Just wanted to let you know he DID graduate. His overall grades ended up being a B, C, and D. I have no idea how he pulled that off after having 3 F’s, but I was relieved and SO proud to watch him cross the stage.

        • I’m very relieved to hear that!!
          I was nervous when I heard about the F’s, so I’m so glad he managed to pull it all together just in the nick of time!
          It’s a wonder we’re not all bald, what with all these kids driving us to pull our hair out!!
          Congratulations on the Graduation!

  3. OMG! The old build a bridge out of popsicle sticks by tomorrow morning, project (with no popsicle sticks) doesn’t even come close to this one. Did you know that if you drive far enough, you can buy bags of popsicle sticks? Darcy, I am so proud of you just knowing that you did not kill anybody. Everybody is still with us, right?

    • Si, senora, el loco nino es NO muerto! He survived the School Project to End All School Projects! (but just barely!)

  4. Lydia said:

    I just finished reading through your archives. It took me a week to do because I was rationing myself so I could savor the experience. You are a great writer with a terrific family to provide plenty of fodder for your stories.

    Thank you for entertaining me!

    • Wow! What an amazing and flattering comment!
      I’m so excited you read the whole archives! I wondered if anyone might enjoy reading a bunch of the stories in a book one day — and in a way, you kind of just did! So that’s really cool! Thanks for the compliment!

  5. Alex said:

    Ah yes, this happened so often that I kept a secret stash of craft supplies and baking ingredients in random places in the house. But for last minute “we have a shared lunch today and no unhealthy treats” I would make popcorn. It’s not too unhealthy if you pick a “no salt light” or “lightly buttered” version, quick to do in microwave and it looks like a lot of food when it isn’t actually that much. My kids are now teenagers and have learnt that if they want anything specific food-wise I need two days’ advance warning and for project materials I need a week, otherwise it ain’t happening.

    • Oooo, I like the idea of laying in provisions “just in case” — then I won’t be caught empty-handed for those last-minute emergency requests for school treats or teacher cards etc My only fear is that if I have too many ingredients readily accessible, I just make make the goodies and eat them myself! :)

  6. AinOakPark said:

    This will hit home with just too many parents!

    When I went to Back To School Night for one of my girls in middle school, the teacher was explaining the year and she came to the next thing on her list: “Reports.”

    She explained that there were two kinds of reports. The first was a SHORT TERM report that we would hear about at about 9PM the night before it was due and would necessitate being up most of the night and a trip to the local 24 hour store for a) a report folder and/or b) poster board. She then told us of the LONG TERM reports that we would find out about the FRIDAY before it was due on Monday, and that it would involve some of the emotions and actions noted for the SHORT TERM report, EXCEPT that it would also include some weeping which would not usually be done by the student.

    • Bwahahaha! I love that teacher! She nailed it right on the head!

  7. AinOakPark said:

    FLASH FORWARD to the end of the first semester of a middle school year. My daughter gets an F in Language Arts. This is a student who was so on top of things that sometimes I’d pass her in the house and say, “Homework done?” – but I think I only asked so I could claim to be a good parent. This was a student with a very high reading level and who had a personal (not including school reading) reading goal of 60,000 pages per year. (Yes, six followed by four zeros.) At a post disaster meeting with the teacher I found out that my student had refused to read a book that the entire class read and refused to do any of the project (they had to keep a fictional journal from the point of view of the main character and there were smaller art and other projects associated with it). This child had signed my name to multiple warnings sent via mail. When asked WHY she didn’t do the project, especially since it was so, so easily within her abilities, she explained that she read the book, but it was stupid, and that the projects were EVEN MORE POINTLESS. I explained to her that school was her JOB and that they hadn’t ASKED IF she wanted to do it; she was TOLD to do it. Needless to say, that child spent the next grading period doing that same project (for NO credit) and when she handed me whatever was the next part as complete, if it wasn’t A level work, I just ripped it up in front of her and told her to try again. She handed a complete report in just so that the teacher could see there were consequences, even though, as I said, she got no credit for it.

    • Wow! With that kind of reading acumen, I would be stunned if she brought home an F. She’s obviously very smart — and a little headstrong! :) But good for you for making her do the project anyway!

      My son is skilled in math, so he’d quickly do the work and just write down the answer. His 7th grade teacher wanted the kids to copy the problem from the book onto their papers, then show all their work, and THEN the answer. My son was like, “uh…no thanks.” And he would just write the answer — and she would keep taking off points. She told me she knew that he knew the material — but she had to make sure he knew how to follow directions. Yikes! He actually aced the tests and even helped tutor the other kids in the class, but barely made a C because he wouldn’t follow her method!