August 11, 2016
School Projects- Hands Off!

Projects have always been a joy and curse for me. Kid’s projects that is. With 8 children we did a lot of projects. Some for school, some for after school activities, as they got older my/our help was not so needed, but in the early years I thought I should have shared in the grade; when it was good. I have made salt maps, volcanos, sugar cube pyramids and igloos, soap box derby cars, and the Loch Ness Monster. The monster was my project for a golf guest day, he was great until he was pelted with golf balls and sank. I digress.

Tim had a project, I think he might have been 12 yrs old, about the Boston Tea Party. Jim helped a bit with the building of a sailing vessel, Tim REALLY did most of the work. He painted it black and he was very proud of it, and so were we. He went to bed, confident that he did his best.

Jim and I were relaxing after the kids went to bed. We were talking about what a good job Tim had done and then Jim said “Let’s surprise him and add sails. I had fabric and twine, so we set to work, it looked great. Then Jim said “can you macramé ladders?” and I made 9 ladders for this ship, it looked great. Then Jim said “we need tea” so I emptied all our t-bags while he made little chests, it looked great. Then Jim said “we need cannons” so we made cannons (don’t remember how), it looked great.

We worked on it until about 2 AM. When we went to bed we were so excited to see Tim’s face in the morning, so sure he would be thrilled with HIS project.  

 6:30 AM Tim came down for breakfast, ready to take his project to school, the look on his face was shock/disbelief/sadness. He managed to say a “look at what you did” and a very half hearted “thanks mom and dad. You really worked hard on this.”

Jim and I were devastated, we had crushed Tim’s joy at what he created and it was obvious that we had made it our project not Tim’s.

He took it to school, embarrassed and I think a bit hurt, thinking that Jim and I didn’t think his project was good enough. He also didn’t want to hurt our feelings. In our exuberance we didn’t even think about what we were doing. We had so much fun enhancing Tim’s project, we should have known better. I know my teachers and Jim’s wished that we had worked so hard when we were 12yr old.

 We had neglected to see Tim’s simple, wonderful ship as complete. As I get older, I want my life to be simple. I admire people who have lots of energy, want new challenges, and are always on the go. I am not sedentary and do lots of things, but these things are the ones that are most important to me now. I don’t need to enhance things, I am happy to see things in their simple state and let them be.

Bullet Points:

  • Help means just that, Help. If you are in your 40’s you have missed the opportunity to make a killer junior high project.
  • If your child is proud of his/her creation, be proud too.
  • Some things done out of love, shouldn’t be done. Think about the whole picture before you do anything.

 

Colleen Ryan