When my wonderful neighbor, Miss Kim, cut my hair today, I couldn’t help but notice a new crop of gray hairs had suddenly appeared. What caused it? Why, the #2 son.
I truly adore this kid. Not only does he try to play every sport on the planet (and he’s pretty good at most of them), but he gives back by coaching a flag football team of fourth-graders. He’s been the only nonadult coach in the league for two seasons. He has his very own playbook that he’s developed (lovingly desktop-published and bound by yours truly, because I knew the boys couldn’t read #2’s scribbling), and he’s been able to get the best out of them. He also enthusiastically puts together sports pools for the family to compete in, even helping his often-clueless older brother with his picks. He motivates all of us to play disc golf together, dividing us into doubles teams that he thinks will be competitive with one another (mine is if #2 is my partner).
Except for the messy room (wonder where he got that from) and dirty stinkenstein body, he really is a great kid. Except for one detail: Oh, does the boy procrastinate! If he has a project due Friday, he’ll actually say, “Good, I don’t have to start it until Thursday!” I keep telling him that he needs to work on how to pace himself with homework, because it only gets harder in high school. Meanwhile, I’m spoiled by his older brother, who always has gotten his homework done in a timely manner since first grade. Guess it’s something you’re born with.
Today that procrastination habit bit him in the butt but good. He had to take his lumps. He’s known he’s had a Spanish project due today for at least a week. But he also had a U.S. History project that was due Monday (yes, got it done Sunday night), as well as track practice, a track meet, and plenty of disc golf. Naturally, he finally started his Español Monday. He told me he had to do a restaurant menu all in Spanish. I glanced at the rubric and told him to write down all the menu items with the prices (which had to be in euros) and let me know where he wanted everything to go. Did he finish it Monday night? Do you really need to ask? This is my child we’re talking about! Nope, he didn’t get ’er done.
So yesterday he had a track meet after school. And not just any old track meet. No, this was the district meet with all 13 middle schools. Multiple heats out the wazoo. But that usually wouldn’t be a problem, because #2 is a triple-jumper. Three jumps and smell ya later. So, of course, on the one night we needed to be done early to get the darned project completed, the coaches decide to punish me by putting #2 in the 400-meter dash, which is near the end of the meet. For the first time ever. Without any practice whatsoever. Say what?!?
Naturally, we don’t get home until 8:30 p.m. #2 still has to eat, take a shower (for the good of all mankind), and do math homework. And finish the Spanish project. I tried to be calm, cool, and collected, even though I knew that every precious minute that ticked by meant I would be up later and later. Finally, #2 hands me his work and goes to bed. It actually doesn’t take very long to format it and print it. If I only had known what the morning would bring, I probably wouldn’t have skipped off to bed. No, I would have been dragging the old bag o’ bones off for a night of tossing and turning.
It’s morning. I wake #2 early, because he needs to go to school early to finish a science lab. I have him proofread the menu and then prepare to output it on cardstock. As I’m printing, I finally, almost fatefully, read the rubric. Really, I shouldn’t have. I should’ve just printed the menu, handed it to #2 to put in his Spanish binder, and washed my hands of the whole mess. But, no, I just had to tempt fate. So I read the rubric, and the very first sentence . . . in English . . . says: “Name the supermarket.” Supermarket. Not a restaurant. And not even a menu. The first 10 gray hairs start to sprout.
“#2,” I say. “It says it’s supposed to be a supermarket. Why did you think it was a restaurant menu?”
By this time, he’s ready to explode. Not a happy camper by any stretch of the imagination. There’s no time to fix anything but the title, which I change from “Café” to “Supermercado.” The next 10 gray hairs are pushing through the scalp. I drive him to school without mentioning the project at all. But I am rolling my eyes.
Do I think for one minute that my eighth-grader will have learned a valuable lesson and will stop procrastinating AND carefully read rubrics? Then again, do I think I’ll ever get all my get ’er done projects finished in a timely manner? Looks like it could be hopeless for both of us. I could be totally gray by his high school senior year.