We have a project
“I have a project for school.” If you haven’t had a child in school, these words do not mean what you think they mean.
When adults say, “I have a project,” it means they have a project for which they are responsible. It is a project they will take responsibility to complete. When a student says, “I have a project for school,” it means, “Get ready, Mom and Dad. The way you thought your evening or weekend was going to look has just been blown out of the water.”
“Don’t we have a serape somewhere?” asked the girl the other night.
“Why do you need a serape?” asked my wife. “You have any number of coats.”
“I have a project for Spanish,” replied the girl. “I need a serape, and one of those crosses you wear around your neck. I think it’s called a rosary or something.”
“You don’t wear a rosary,” I replied, shocked that this bit of knowledge had escaped her religious education, even if most Episcopalians don’t pray the rosary. “I do have more than a few pectoral crosses.”
“Yeah, I guess that would work,” she said. “But do we have a serape?”
“When do you need it?” asked my wife.
“In the morning.”
It does not matter when the teacher assigns the project. It could be two weeks in advance, or the day before, but you will not hear about it until the night before it’s due. I have no idea where to find a serape at nine o’clock on a Tuesday evening in Westlake, Ohio. If we lived in Amarillo, Texas, I could probably find a serape a little easier.
The boy is a little bit easier at this point. I can go through his backpack from time to time and pull the relevant information from notes in his folders. The paper may instruct him to let his parents know immediately so they can help him with the project, but he does not seem to be able to read those words just yet.
He needs to make an edible model of a cell. “You can just take an egg,” I said, “An egg is a single cell, and it’s edible.”
“Way to encourage him to work hard,” said my wife.
“Work smarter not harder,” I smiled, then turned to the boy and said, “You know you have to do a little more than that, right?”
What I really meant to say was, “We have to do a little more than that.” At least it's easier to find cake mix and a variety of candies than it is to find a serape.
“Yeah, I think we should hard boil it,” he responded. “A raw egg will get me in trouble.”
“Nice try,” I said, “but it's going to take a little more than that.”
Next time your child says, “I have a project,” you just might take a moment to correct their grammar and say, “You mean WE have a project.”
I have been a priest for 16 years. I spent the first four years in Minnesota and Wisconsin, six years on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, before becoming the pastor at Advent Episcopal Church in Westlake in 2010. If anyone would find it interesting I have a son and daughter, which I refer to as a matched set, a wife, a dog, and a cat.