This week our little Stinker King had a MAJOR project due at school. I spent 18 hours building it, putting together a trifold display, making a prototype and writing a paper in an 8/9 year old voice. I know, I know. Kids are supposed to do their own projects for school and I should have let her fail instead of doing 94.82% of the work for her but I’m not wired that way. You see, I talked her into “inventing” this project that I wanted to build for her room. I am proud to report it was a smashing success. Our Matchy Shoe Hanger was the best invention of the day according to the “Inventor”. Her presentation went off beautifully, her teacher said it was a great solution to the problem of shoes all over the bedroom floor.
As I was sweating like a pig in a BBQ joint getting it done, I was not a very nice person to be around. Since we waited until this past weekend to work on it my time was totally taken over. I don’t think my attitude towards the “Inventor” would win me any parenting awards. I was frustrated that she had done nothing. But as I was working I was reminded of my childhood. I can’t count how many times my dad, the night before a huge paper was due, would sit down in front of the typewriter (yes, I was educated before computers were in every room in every house) pounding out a paper with me until the late hours of the night.
It was 8th grade Civics and for Black History month and we signed up to do a research paper on a famous African American. I wisely picked Meadowlark Lemon. The day before the paper was due, I rushed to the library only to find that the only source about the world famous Mr. Lemon and his vast contributions to mankind was checked out. Well crappy von crap, crap. I was going to get an F and Mrs. Milam was not one just to give you a zero and move on. No, I would be completely humiliated in front of the entire class and sent to the principal for a painful backside warming. As I was freaking out, my mom wisely counseled me on the folly of my choice for topic, procrastinating and generally having a bad attitude when dad came home from work on his gleaming white stallion. Dad learning of my precarious predicament decided to just make it up. So dad, with me sitting right beside him “helping”, created a very entertaining history about how Meadowlark Lemon rose from the ashes of poverty to become the world famous Harlem Globetrotter complete with footnotes and bibliography. Brilliant, did I tell you my dad is brilliant?
The next day, paper in hand I strolled into the class ready to turn it in and be done. But no, this lovely lady who led our fresh little minds through the hallways of Civics education decided that we would each read our papers in front of the class. I always tried to go 5th from last. Last person presenting garners too much attention, 5th from last guarantees everyone will be bored out of their minds too busy daydreaming to notice the bright red hives creeping up my neck and face while I stumble though my presentation. Great strategy, usually. Not this time. Student number 4 got up and read her report all about the world famous Meadowlark Lemon. Crappy von crap, crap. Now I knew where the only viable source about Mr. Lemon had gone. I waited until I was called on to read my paper. It was my turn way too soon. I read my paper which was 100% different factually than my classmates. The hives didn’t creep, they galloped up to my hairline. I was certain that someone was going to pickup on the difference and raise their hand to ask a question – thankfully no. At the end of the class we all got our papers back. Mine came back with a big 100. It seems that my classmate got the zero. She had signed up for some other hero to report on but when she couldn’t find any sources, she stumbled upon a book about Meadowlark Lemon and just decided to write her paper on him. Mrs. Milam apparently cared more about following the rules about picking a topic for a paper than she did about researching and crafting a factually correct paper.
I’d like to say that after that experience, I quit procrastinating and got stuff done ahead of schedule but much like my Meadowlark Lemon paper that is pure fiction. Here I was building an invention the day before it was due when I, like my little “inventor”, knew about it since December. Matthew 7:3-5 came flooding back to my very tired mind.
3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.