It’s science fair season and I’ve never been more appreciative of my parents as I am at this very moment. I had no idea. I really didn’t. I’m so sorry, Mom and Dad, for all the science fairs, dioramas, posters, projects and reports throughout the entirety of my education. I have no idea how you survived without ever turning to the bottle. For that alone you deserve sainthood.
The Peeshwank undertook his first big science project this year. The prep began back in October. He worked diligently in his “data journal”, collecting… well… data. He had a plan and was following it fairly carefully. He chose a fairly easy experiment because he knew he had some acting projects coming up as well as Odyssey of the Mind. I admired the forethought he put into it and remember thinking, “My boy is growing up to be such a responsible young person. This makes me so happy.”
We did the actual experiments over our extended Christmas break and once again I was ecstatic that the boy had chosen not to wait until the last minute to do it. He had been turning in his data journal each week and so far had 100s at every checkpoint along the way.
Then it was time to make the display board for the big day.
My thought: glue a bunch of pictures from the experiment and some shiny letters at the top and call it good.
Teacher’s thought: a THIRTY THREE PAGE powerpoint explanation of what should and shouldn’t go on the board.
We had two days to get it done. Keep in mind he had school all day, OM practice until 5:00, then Les Miserables rehearsal immediately after that until bedtime. The Peeshwank spent his downtime at Les Mis rehearsal typing up the info that needed to go on the board. The next day I did that thing that I hate to do. I helped him by formatting it all so it would look nice on the board. No problem. The printer would give me fits throughout the day, so that made it a longer process than I had hoped.
I was The Peeshwank’s hero that night.
He quickly assembled the board and it looked great.
Then the next morning happened.
P: Where’s my data journal?
Me: What do you mean?
P: I can’t find it. I have to have it. All of this is due today!
[panic is evident in the boy's voice]
Me: Where did you have it last?
P: In my backpack.
Me: Then it’s in your back pack.
P: It’s not. I checked like a thousand times.
Me: Check your room? The car?
[this goes on for several seconds]
Me: Well, we have to go.
In the car there the discussion continued. We discussed being responsible and the fact that I couldn’t bail him out on this one and that it fell on him.
P: I’m going to fail. It’s worth 100 points of the grade.
Me: Well, you turned it in on the 15th for a checkpoint. Your teacher probably still has it.
He insisted she returned them and that he had it in his backpack. His freakout level reached Defcon 1.
Me: Look. You don’t have rehearsal tonight. If you can’t find it at school, we’ll make another one tonight and you can just take a late penalty on it or something, k?
He livened up a bit and went to school just slightly less freaked out.
I got home and Joe and I tore the entire house apart looking for the DDJ (damned data journal). We moved furniture. We checked the freezer (Pooh bear was once found there when The Peeshwank was an even Pee-ier shwank). We looked under mattresses. We checked everything. No sign of the DDJ. P texted me from school. It was not there either, but his teacher would let him turn it in late without a penalty.
I went to the teacher’s website and started the process of printing out all the forms, charts, tables, etc. that P had used in his DDJ. Every time I would hit print, the printer would freak out. (I’ve had it for the better part of 9 years. It’s the grumpy old man of the tech world.) So I would have to turn it off and back on again to clear the error messages. Which made it reinitialize on my laptop, which in turn would give it a new printer name which I would them have to update in the printer queue. Wanna know how many times this happened?
Because, of course it reloaded 16 times in the span of a single day.
This is me:
But I persevered.
The boy got home yesterday afternoon and said, “I’m gonna watch Breaking Bad and get this done. Because: science!”
I sat down in the library and breathed a sigh of relief that everything was printed and ready to go for the boy to redo the entire book. (At last count the DDJ had been 35 pages of research and data. A pretty big undertaking.)
And then the boy gasps and yells,
“You’ve gotta be kidding me!”
[a pause while I ponder what I could've possibly missed during my printing trials]
“Mom! Did you know there’s a secret pocket in my binder?”
The original DDJ had been in his backpack the entire time.
I had wine for dinner.