Thursday, March 19, 2009

Welcome To Hell. Here's Your Hot Glue Gun.

Is It Spring Break Yet?

Ah, spring. The bulbs are blossoming. The birds are tweeting.

The school projects are festering.

Yes, this is the time of year when teachers assign parents students those full-bore, hail Mary, multi-dimensional projects that drive parents to homicide drink the crafts store [shudder]. Like the mythical Hydra, a beast who grew two new heads each time Hercules cut off one, these projects regenerate overnight, refusing to be beaten back until they have consumed your afternoons...your weekends...your very soul.

Think you're done? Ha - think again! Sure, the prese
ntation board is finished, but what about the costume? The oral report? The collage? The epic poem? The interpretive dance?

Foolish mortal! [Insert maniacal laughter.]

Are You Sure Evil Knievel Wasn't On The List?

Take Morticia, for instance. In her fourth grade class,
they're doing reports on influential Californians and students were given a three-page list of people from which to choose. (There are all kinds of names running through your mind now, right? Like Minnie Mouse and Ryan Seacrest?)

After much angst and rending of clothing, she chose this person:

(I totally agree - she does look shifty.)

That's Mary See, of See's candy fam
e. Mary See who was born in (and died in) Canada.


Okay, so we're playing fast and loose with the term "Californian." Awesome. If t
hat's the case, let's think outside the (candy) box here and take a look at the ol' map. It looks to me like Butte, Montana is closer to California than Canada is. Butte, Montana happens to be the birthplace of Evil Knievel...ergo...please tell me you get to dress up like your influential Californian because how cool would that be?!?

Top 3 Reasons Evil Knievel Is Cooler Than Mary See
  1. Flared leather pants beat white shawl every time.
  2. Mary See has completed no known canyon or school-bus jumps.
  3. There is no biopic about Mary See starring George Hamilton.
BTW, Evil's real name is Robert, so if you have a child named "Robert," do them a favor and upgrade their nickname asap. They'll thank you for it later when they're in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Meanwhile, In Third Grade...

Gomez and all the other third-grade ankle-biters are immersed in a huge headache endeavor called "The City Project."

Basically, each classroom becomes its own city, complete with businesses, a government and a highly unstable economy. No bureaucratic stone is left unturned in this deal, including the requirement to file a business plan for city council review before opening your storefront.

[Side note: the town is so realistic that the Environmental Compliance Officer recently was voted out of his position for abusing his power and giving out too many citations. Okay, full disclosure: it was Gomez. That's my boy!]

And, yes, every child has a store that sells actual
things. Things the parents children must think up. And things the parents children must manufacture. And then they sell them to other students. Did I mention it all must come in within budget?

For example, each store must have on-hand roughly a zillion little identical products and the total cost of producing these little products must not ex
ceed, oh, say...eight bucks. Piece of cake!

e's what Gomez is selling in his little store:

Behold the "Marble Buddy." We know he's got foam feet and pipe-cleaner antennae. Beyond that, he's an enigma.

Now, aside from building the storefront for this enterprise, we're also cranking out the inventory and, let me tell you, Kathie Lee Gifford's got nothing on me in the sweatshop department. It's never too early to learn the exquisite joy of repetitive assembly, yes?

It's like we always say around the kitchen table:

"Break's over, slackers! These orders aren't going to fill themselves!"

My buddy Florinda - who runs one of the best book blogs around - is collecting votes for her BlogHer Room of Your Own proposal entitled "So Many Books, So Little Time." If you'd be interested in attending or co-presenting with her, please check out the details and vote here. (There's no attendance commitment when you vote, BTW, they're just getting a feel for which proposals will generate the most interest on the agenda.) Thank you!

And I have to give
a big shout-out to blog Jedi Self-Deprechaun, whose current post cracked me up (as every one of his posts does) and features a plush-toy version of tuberculosis - the OG (Original Gangsta) of infectious diseases - which is stalking him in his workplace. (Trust me, it sounds really funny when he says it.)


Tom said...

Some of those homework assignments can drive you crazy. One of my kids had one to walk around the neighborhood and count how many windows you can see with your parents. Thanks for including the parents in that waste of time activity. I'm still not sure what subject it was supposed to be for.

derfina said...

This brought back memories of MY product-orange flavored toothpaste that had the unfortunate side effect of turning your teeth bright orange.

Walter said...

So which student is going to run the city's mob and pay off officials? Basically, you need to find the pip-squeek in charge of the city's waste management, and lock him up fast before he off's anyone else for "talking."

The Retired One said...

Your post reminded me of when our kids were little. You are absolutely right.....these assignments suck you dry of any free time whatsoever during their spring "break". And, Lord Forbid if you plan on any trips away from home, then the time crunch ends up being that you either pull an all-nighter before you leave on the trip (Forget it Kids: when I said you couldn't stay up past 9pm..we are going to finish this tonight,Dang it!) OR (worse yet!)you pull an all nighter the night before they have to go back to school!
I remember my daughter's fourth grade teacher was a sports freak and he assigned a project.She worked her heart out and got an A but he gave "extra credit" for a sports question about some stupid statistic (which we couldn't find the answer was before we had a computer at home).She cried because several other kids got the answer correct (because their parents were sports freaks, too). It ruined her vacation, the poor sweetheart. I was SO mad at him about this...and told him about it at Parents-Teachers conference,too.

The Queen said...

"The City Project"? Wow, we never did anything like this when I was younger. I don't think I could have grasped it. I am lookin forward to the day my son goes to school and brings home loads of homework for 'me' to do. lol

Kulio said...

Wow, this post is timely. Twin boy and Twin Girl are knee-deep in the Mythological Character Wax Museum project, which includes dressing up as (twin girl has chosen Medusa, that's my snake-haired girl...) the god and then giving an oral report when the primary grades walk through the library and push an imaginary button in front of you.

Knee-deep meaning...we know about the project and we have briefly considered preparations for it but will save that for the night before like any other self-respecting parent. We thumb our noses at the do-aheaders. Show-offs.

Heather said...

Is it wrong that I totally want my very own Marble Buddy?

Does Gomez ship across the country?

And yes, as a child I did collect those little pompom dudes with the googly eyes and giant feet. Why do you ask?

Gladys said...

This is why I love being old and not having any kids.

The Farmers Wife said...

Blast, see a whole new reason to home school my kids. At my school I would do projects like "laundry town" and "dish dillema diner" cause THOSE are truly real world skills. I will wait till they are older to teach them lessons about how much taxes suck and why we have to pay the utility company. In due time I say.

Best of luck with the projects though. Better you than me, I always say.

Meg said...

I find that having the third grader offer a service is much easier: hair braider, face painter, parent signature forger.

Florinda said...

You know, in many respects I see the value of "parental involvement" in schooling, but I've NEVER understood projects that basically require the parents to do most of the work.

Also - thanks so much for the Room of Your Own shout-out, Anna!

kristi said...

my bff just completed her project ( i mean her son's) of the solar system. it was crazy with trips to arts and crafts store.
And did you know there are only eight planets now. Pluto doesn't count anymore :(

Unknown said...

At least you didn't get the dreaded diorama. I hate those fookin' things.

Students are to create and label the entire State of NH in an 12x6 space. NO LARGER!!!

Live Free or Die, my ass.

Peace -Rene

Beth Kephart said...

Those cute little marble buddies far exceed my high expectations. Adorable, and in crystal and pink, too.

A Woman Of No Importance said...

Anna, this is a wonderful post, and so true all over the world - A teacher friend of mine once said he would expect parents to do some of the work for the kids - And my views are, I can support my son, but his work should be his work, for I cannot sit the exam for him - It is getting to a point of madness, the like of which has not been seen since the Court of Louis Quatorze, methinks! Counting windows? Pah!

Liz Wilkey (a.k.a. A Mom on Spin) said...

You just reminded me of why I'm happy I have teenagers.

Happy? I have teenagers???? Thank you! Thank You! THANK YOU!!!

Kelley with Amy's Angels said...

Hello? You have a blog to run. Don't your kid's teachers know how important you are? I mean, really.

But seriously, projects are for the kids when are teachers going to know this? Sheesh. : )

skywind said...

Yes, spring has come. Fields, woods, the sky, the parks are filled with a breath of spring. :)
What is Really Healthy-Health Blog
Humor & Fun World-Funny Blog

Unknown said...

School projects suck! I, I mean Sassy, just finished a solar system project.

And Ryan Seacrest is from GA! :)

♥ Boomer ♥ said...

I remember those projects without fondness. But consider the truth ~ that it builds character in the child and a wonderful relationship between child and the smart mother. ;-)

And speaking of smart ~ PLEASE come over and answer my Celtic question. Please. I am positive that YOU,of all smart and clever people, must know the answer.

Petra a.k.a The Wise (*Young*) Mommy said...

Please kill me before my kids get to those kind of projects. I got cold sweats over his first DIORAMA, for Christ's sake.

Beth said...

Awesome! You just made me happy for ruling that the teachers could NOT assign projects for homework.

And poor you. Feel up to moving? There is room for your kids at my school.

Blicky Kitty said...

So where can we place our orders for the marble buddy?

Self Deprechaun is the best I agree. I'll head on over there after I see who the eclectic evil genius who thought up the name Chaka is.

Merrily Down the Stream said...

I am counting on the dementia taking me long before we get into al that crap!

The Wife O Riley said...

Do meth-labs counts as a city and a product?

blognut said...

You win! Your kids' projects suck way worse than my kids' projects.

All hail the queen of the glue gun!

Beth said...

OMG seriously. They did the same thing in my kiddo's class. 4th grade. I'm sorry, but why are they teaching these kids this crap in 3rd & 4th grade? They are NOT going to retain that crap. I'm nearly 35 years old and *I* can't retain that crap. WTF?

Let's concentrate on what's *really* important in 4th grade folks, like *still* not eating the paste and sticking jelly beans up our noses.

Focus people. FOCUS.

Frank said...

... and Mary See never broke her coxis!!!

Imogen Lamport, AICI CIP said...

Get your bedazzlers ready and start turning the world into an uglier place.

Whenever my son asks me to help him with his homework my reply is always "I went to school, your teacher isn't interested in what I can read and write, she's interested in what you can do, so you have to do it yourself."

How long I can keep this up I'm not sure. He's only in first grade.

Diver Daisy said...

Been teaching for ten years. Never once assigned a project (or any homework whatsoever) over spring break. I figure if I am not going to work, why make the kids????? Don't get me wrong - we have homework everynight. But NOT over breaks. That's just awful. And really, the good homework is supposed to be done by the student :) We do all our projects at school, just so we see what the KIDS can do.

Nanny Goats In Panties said...

OK, I can't remember how you got from Mary See to Evil Kneivel, but this is the 2nd post today I've read starring The Motorcycle Man. Is it his birthday or something? I mean, you know, if he were still alive.

Anonymous said...

Great - I have all of this to come, when Monkey starts school in September...

The Self-Deprechaun said...

Thank you for the shout out! I'll send you a SARS mask so you can visit the site again :). Feeling the love!

Belle said...

I spent one night working into the small hours preparing my daughter's 'volcano' project. We decided to bake a cake. Have you ever tried to shape a cake like a volcano?

MuseSwings said...

That marble buddy needs to go in a time capsule. My children went to a school that never gave out homework. At least that's what they told me when I asked. I knew better than to ask twice unless I wanted to be building a bridge out of toothpicks.
I stopped by the TB guy's place and now I have this cough...

essbesee said...

what the? I just remember my Dad doing my science project - now we have more work to do for our kids. I vote no. And as usual, hilarious post. I love Evil, but think I love See's candy more.

Dawn Parsons Smith said...

I am loving the marble buddy!

This is why I love being a homeschooler...I inflict this torture on my kids every day!

the mama bird diaries said...

School sounds so exhausting.

Grand Pooba said...

Is it sad that I am kind of excited to have kids and do their homework? I mean help them with their homework?

Anonymous said...

I'll take a dozen of those marble buddies please.

But I will fight to the death (or at least first slap) defending See's candy. That stuff is freakin' awesome.

Anonymous said...

The title of this blog entry should be a poster hanging in every gradeschool classroom.

I adore Sees candy, but she does look possessed. My parents (mostly) did not help me with my school creative projects which is good since I draw stick figures only and my Dad drew like Dali. They would have known.

Dr Zibbs said...

I remember wathing Evil K about to jump Snake River and my mom just shaking her head saying, "What an idiot"

nikkicrumpet said...

BLASPHEMY!!! How can you say some motorcycle crashing dough head is better than a woman who makes CHOCOLATE....WHAT??? ARE YOU CRAZY!! We're talking chocolate here...that trumps reved up motorcycles any day of the week. That woman is a HERO! And I think the little marble buddy is quite ingenious!

HoodChick said...

I'm so glad that as an aunt my only commitment is buying useless crap from them.

jubilee said...

My oldest is only in second grade and we have yet to encounter dia-o-ramas and leaf collections and whatnot, but I know they are coming. He does, however, have about two hours of homework a night. Ugh.

BTW, I visited The Self-Deprechaun guy and he's a hoot! Thanks for the tip.

Jeanne Estridge said...

On the other hand, Evel Knievel never made absolutely fabulous candy. So it all balances out.

David Prince said... where can I buy Marble Buddy? I'm so lonely, and he looks like he's a great listener!

Please send over the link and pricing (though I'm sure; if you have to ask...).


AiringMyLaundry said...

I remember when I had to do a project on Freud. I took a poster board and had to fold it into three sections and I remember gluing a lot.

I'm surprised that these days there are poster boards that are already folded FOR you.

I am not looking forward to Tommy doing projects. He gets frustrated quickly so I foresee a lot of gluesticks flying across the room.

The Mind of a Mom said...

Hey Anna

Since they both start with "C" it makes perfect sense to me! LoL I am so glad I am over the project stage!

Mary See
AKA Mary Wiseman

Born: 15-Sep-1854
Birthplace: Howe Island, Ontario, Canada
Died: 31-Jul-1939
Location of death: Gananoque, (pron Gan-A-knock)(it is near Kingston Ontario) Ontario, Canada
Cause of death: unspecified

Gender: Female
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Chef

Nationality: Canada
Executive summary: Confectioner

Husband: Charles Alexander See, Sr. (b. 2-May-1848, d. 15-Jul-1919)
Daughter: Annis Miller See (11 May 1875, d. 21 Jul 1954)
Daughter: Bella May See (b. 23-Aug-1876)
Son: Charles Alexander See, Jr. (b. 1882, d. 1949)

Hope it helps, been there!!

bernthis said...

Okay, I'm now going to have nightmares and then I'm going to home school her.

Banteringblonde said...

HI thanks for visiting .. enjoying your blog. The assignments can get a little out of hand! Im happy to say that we have only had one this spring that made me want to jump out a window!

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Unknown said...

I just love it when you ask the kids over and OVER again... "Anything you have to do for school while on vacation?" and they answer "No".

Then Sunday at 8 pm they say, "OH! I forgot! I need to build a working solar system by tomorrow!"

Those are the days you wish your kids were like cars. You get tired of this model and it's time to trade up! LOL!

CaraBee said...

This is why I have contemplated home schooling. Of course, then I'll be doing all of the work, but who's counting?

Michelle said...

Two years ago, my daughter was in the fourth grade. After perusing the two pages of (boring) famous Californians, I offered a suggestion. Sammy Hagar.

Here is why Sammy Hagar is cooler than Mary See:

1. He knows "there's only one way to rock"
2. He wore parachute pants in the 80s

and mostly importantly:

3. He owned a company that made TEQUILA then sold it for, like, 80 million dollars.


She took the suggestion and I offered up my vintage Sammy Hagar concert t-shirt from 1980-something. After her presentation, she is back at her desk and I realize that the back of the shirt reads: Texas is Best, the Hell with the Rest.


Anna Lefler said...

Oh, man - I need that t-shirt.

Your comment made my day!



Michelle said...

Ha ha! And your comment on MY comment made MY day! Thanks so much!

WheresMyAngels said...

You know I wish I would of had a boy I so would know what to name him now!

Maggie May said...

you know what? Mary See DOES look shifty.

Ash said...

I'm so thankful my kids go to Texas schools. We shoot for mastering the alphabet by third grade.

Ms. Florida Transplant said...

Hi Anna -

I'm moving my show to wordpress! Come check me out at

PLEASE DELETE THIS COMMENT after you update your reader!


The blogger formerly known as Ms. Florida Transplant :)

Laoch of Chicago said...

Frighteningly, Bill Gates' tax return is the size of several phone books!