2/20/10

Why I cut my kids a little slack when it comes to procrastinating on science projects..

 
Here it is.  A last minute project I finished just minutes before my 1st period biology class in 8th grade.   I had a full week and a three day weekend to complete my construction of a plant cell, but as so many kids do.. I put it off and forgot about it until I woke up on Monday morning.  

At 6:30 a.m. I ran out to my old man's wood shop, and started scrounging for anything I could find.  I needed to construct something.. anything, so as not to get a big fat zero in the grade book.  I grabbed a piece of pine half buried beneath a pile of sawdust, and ran inside.  I scarfed down a bowl of Wheaties, got dressed, grabbed a hand full of markers, and ran to the bus stop.

After I boarded the school bus, I opened up my biology textbook, sat it next to me on the seat, and quickly began to transfer the likeness of a plant cell to the piece of pine on my lap.  It wasn't until trying to draw on a school bus, that I realized how bumpy of a ride they had.  I found myself praying for red traffic lights, and slow load times at every bus stop.  When the bus wasn't moving, I would draw with lightning speed.  When it was moving, I'd use my time for carefully coloring in shapes.

I got into class five minutes early, and spent that time labeling the different parts of the plant cell, and adding a few more accents so as to make it look like I had worked hard on my project.  The first thing Mr. Wertz did after roll call, was ask for the entire class to turn their projects in.  When I walked up to the desk and handed my plant cell made from pine to him, he looked at it, slowly stuck out his bottom lip, and uttered a slow "Hmmmm".  Walking back to my desk, I was sure I had instantly failed, but was relieved that I wasn't going to receive an incomplete grade.  

Imagine my surprise when our projects were given back to us at the end of the week, and discovered I scored a B-minus on my plant cell!  I've kept this project for the last 26 years, and I shake my head and smile every time I see it.  How the heck did I get a grade of B-minus for this project?!?  I wonder if Mr. Wertz felt sorry for me?  Maybe he thought my family was underprivileged and a slab of pine was all we could afford.  Maybe he just admired my skill at throwing something together last minute.  Whatever the case, I felt like I got away with a fast one, and was ecstatic about the grade.

I can't count how many times my kids have waited until Sunday afternoon to tell me I need to take them to the hobby store for a project that's due on Monday.  This always irks me, but I always try my best to cut them a little slack.  After all, I've been there before, and good planning is something that will come with age.