If you were to walk into my kitchen right now and set your sights on the table you would be staring right into the very abyss that has swallowed my last nerve.
"My last nerve" I say that all the time in my parenting life. It flys from my lips as my children engage in vocal warfare "Knock it off...I'm down to my last nerve!" The child who incesantly pleads for the latest toy or begs merciously for a grounding reprieve hears "I've got one nerve left and you're standing on it!" (that's a warning shot). At some point during teenage PMS week I usually declare "That's it! my nerves are shot!" I'm not going to lie, there have been nights when I curl up in Michael's arms and cry "My nerves can't take any more."
There are a hundred events capable of bringing me to my knees and finding me resorting to the "Nervous" phrase. No single event however has greater power than
the school project. I'm not talking a math sheet or a 2 page book report due by Monday. No, I'm refering to "THE" project. The one that requires a trip to the store for "materials" The project that has an alotted due date weeks into the future.
Lula's most memorable was a medevial fortress built to scale from foam board and shiskibob skewers, complete with fleck stone paint and working drawbridge. KJ challenged me with 10 jars of liquid lined up on my china cabinet for 6 weeks. Each jar contained a unique saturated solution of some variation of sugar, efforting to grow crystals on a string weighted with one of Dad's fishing leads. Those jars left my house for the science fair and to my horror found thier way back again.
E-man's 'project' is a bridge. It's a hybrid structure; part suspension bridge, part beam bridge, contructed of lego and foam board. He's had 3 weeks to design, plan, build and test his structure. The written portion of the assignment is due along side the achiterctural wonder at the end of this week.
I have vowed never to take over one of these projects in some juvenile effort to impress a grade school teacher in a way I was never able to during my own acedemic years. As a result, I nag at the lack of effort, I cringe sporaticly in the face of right agles that are well...less than right. I resist the urge to 'help', assist, tweek, suggest and critique. I do my very best to tune out the whining and the complaints. I enforce the homework first rule to the very best of my fortiude and I sit on my last nerve.
Yup I hold it in. I bite my tounge and the phrase never escapes my lips. I know that if my kids are going to experieince the thrill of grand accomplishment, they need to do the work. They need to dictate the amount of effort they are willing to invest. They need to buckle down and get to work. They need to get dirty and make mistakes. They need to procrastinate (despite my urgent pleas) for 27 of the 30 days available for project completion. They need to fail or succeed. School afterall is meant to prepare them for the real world. In the real world I am planning on enjoying coffee on my cottage deck while I write to endulge my soul not commuting with my children to the office.
I know that this time will not be any different. Thursday morning will come, E-man's bridge will be packed up into a black garbage bag for transport. We will all head off for a day of work and school, bleary eyed from the late night project wrap-up. The fate of his efforts will be transferred to the eye of the teacher. I hope that when she judges his efforts, analyses the structual validity and his understanding of scientific theory she sees that there, glued among foam board and popsicle sticks is my last nerve. I hope she understands that it is a significant contribution to the project. It's my last nerve after all and those are hard to come by.