Tuesday, March 14, 2006

A Parent's Nightmare, Part Deux

It's staring you and your child in the face - the impending due date of the science fair project. Thankfully, the science teacher tells you about it during the first week of school. Giving you plenty of time to fret and worry.

Phase One - selecting a topic. This is made much easier due to the experimental nature of our daily home life. Father Roger comes up with the perfect project - involving baking soda and vinegar. With the help of the science teacher, we refine the project into an experiment involving exploding a cork out of a container and measuring the height the cork sails into the stratosphere, using various quantities of baking soda. A simple variation of a parlor trick we employed to amaze the child's friends during their toddler years.

Then comes the worst phase - attempting to prod the immobile child into completing the project. Stern phrases are heard, echoing throughout the house over the coming months.

"Have you thought about your science project?"
"When are you going to start your science project?"
"Exactly how much time until your science project is due?"
"Are you planning to wait until the absolute last minute to begin the science project?"
"Hello? Are you in there? Science project, anyone?"

Finally, the threats and the removal of privileges.

"No, you can't stay at so-and-so's house. Why? Because you haven't finished your science project."
"No, you can't rent that movie. The time would be much better spent on that science project."
"No dinner until you've spent an hour on that science project."
"I'm going to take your portable DVD player and do my own freakin' science project to see how far I can hurl it across the street and into the path of a passing SUV if you don't start working on that science project."

All of a sudden, the term "science project" becomes more offensive than any four-letter expletive known to man.

Alas, there is a happy/unhappy ending. Miraculously, the child works on the science project. Begrudgingly, she works on the project. Astonishingly, the child is remarkably proficient at using her computer skills to lay out all the photos and written portions of the science project. The science project is actually completed, the day before the science fair, in 30 minutes, because the child realizes there is no other option, if she cares to live any kind of existence outside (or inside) the home. It was easier than expected. The pressure appears to be off. A sense of relaxation begins to overcome the household for the first time in months.

Until the day of the science fair. Yes, here is your dual ending. The science project actually places. The science project will be traveling beyond the borders of the county, to compete at another level.

It will not die.

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