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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.


  1. Or not. I am still a last minute, throw it together as fast as I can and hope for the best kind of gal. I am a sucker for helping my kids out at the last minute. There is something to be said for thinking on ones feet.

  2. I was the same way. My girls are in high school now and I don't know if they are that way or if the teachers think I like going to the craft store in the evenings after school. It makes me nuts when they say (according to my kids of course) that the project is due the next day. Grrr. But now almost everyone can drive so it's the kids problem.

    I can't believe you kept your project.... that's too funny

  3. Perhaps, like other procrastinators (me), you have talent that can't be hidden by the last-minuteness of the execution of your project?

  4. I love this! I think the complementary colors of orange and blue subconsciously worked their magic on your teacher.

    I had a friend from high school post a picture of her kid's science project on Facebook, and she wrote "What grade do you think I'll get?" She must have thought about the fact that a teacher could read that, so she took it down quickly.

    I think it's clear you had no help, which was probably something your teacher appreciated! Good job--you deserve a sticker.

  5. Oh man Darrin, I was laughing out loud as you recounted your great anecdote (praying for red lights so you could draw some more :) ).
    Reminds me of how I had to do a last-minute Sunday night construction of the floating Aztec gardens of Mexico City for 7th grade Geography class; Mom and Dad helped on that one (but not without suitable growling)

  6. LOL, what a great story Darrin! as I read your story I wondered if my little one will be a procrastinator as well, and if I'll be driving her to the hobby shop last minute too! because I did the same to Mom :) Wonderful post dahling!

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  8. Haha great post !

    I've pulled a couple of fast ones before. My best one was in fourth grade. I had to write a report on The Civil War. It was supposed to be a big deal.

    I hated the subject and couldn't get into it. I waited until the last minute and when that last minute came, I still didn't do it.

    This was a Christian school, and I told the teacher that I lost it. Suprisingly, she bought it. I told her I had it and that I lost it, but that I was frantically looking for it. Every day I came in I told her I was still looking for it. I never did do it.

    She ended cutting me some slack and I ended up getting an A on the paper. I got away with this, probably because I was otherwise a great student. I always did my homework and I was quiet, and I was kind of her pet.

    Moral of the story: Behave and build up good credits, so when you pull a fast one and lie, people will believe it.

    Or not...... I don't condone what I did at all and that is not how I normally handle things since I've grown up.

  9. Hey, Darrin -

    I was going to write a response to you earlier, but I just kept putting it off... :)

    ...or mabye I lost it on the way to my computer... :)

    Anyway - this was a great story. I was more the type to not get it done and then just hope (in vain, of course) that the teacher would either forget about it or would give us an extension for no reason.

    I don't know if you've ever heard of Brian Regan - he's a comedian that does a great piece on this - you can hear a portion of it here:


    the science project portion starts at 3:21, but the first part is funny, too - all about the good old spelling bees. It's much better to see him in person, but you can get an idea about him. And he does a few things about kids today vs. when he grew up.

    Anyway - thanks again for sharing your story - I really got a kick out of envisioning you working feverishly on your project on the bus! Nothing like an event like that to make you SAY you'll never do that again, but time will tell...

  10. Mmph! That plant cell look more like a record player to me! You got any Al Green on there?

  11. Darrin, I'm not gonna lie, this post kinda pissed me off. You are THAT kid. I would slave for weeks for something and get a crappy grade. Let me guess, you didn't study for tests and nailed 'em. We are officially no longer blogging buds. UGH!!!! The jealousy I feel for you right now...

    Anyway, I think it's awesome that you saved it. I may have kept my old diaries, articles/writings, autographed pix, etc. but I never kept my science projects. Maybe because they sucked and so did my grade. Ha ha!

    Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing

  12. Madame: Thinking on your feet is a good skill. Wonder if my kids will remember their last minute project fiasco's? Lord knows they've had many many more than I did!

    Bambi: True Dat. I can't believe the window some teachers expect a project to be done in!!

    Kitty: Ya know.. I DO feel more creative when I'm on a short deadline. Maybe I should have been a newspaper reporter? ;^D

    Dan: Thanks Brother! I was very artistic and got nothing less than an "A" in any art class EVER. Anything where I could put my pencil to paper be it drawing or writing, I usually fared well with.

    R/E: Thanks for the kind words. Man.. that floating garden project sounded kind of elaborate. You don't still have it do ya? Heh Heh. Nah.. maybe I'm the only one who holds onto crazy stuff like this forever. LOL!

    Miss: Wonder why I'm not harder on my kiddo's? My old man definitely wouldn't have cut me as much slack!

    Senora: WOW! Did you ever luck out! I'm never that lucky. Heck.. I've done things and NOT gotten credit for them many times!

    BFTP: That comedian is awesome! I've seen some of his stuff before. And I hear ya on SAYING you'll never do that kinda stuff again! I still procrastinate as an adult and always say "never again". LOL!

    Rondell: LOL! YES!! One of those old consoles with the turntable! No Al Green.. will Frankie Beverly work?

    ALLY: Nah.. I wasn't that lucky! I had to study for tests to get a half decent grade. When it came to being creative though.. I was good at making something out of nothing. Many a classmate and relative that were lacking in the artsy and creativity dept were saved with my help. Man.. I could've charged them and made some serious scrilla back then! LOL!

  13. Thank you for visiting my blog! I'm here now and I'm going to scoop you out. Just letting ya know! :)

  14. Auntie: HA! Thanks! I think..


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