'I forgot to finish my Wright Brothers
plane," my son remembers as I tuck him into bed.
Ah, yes. That mess all over the kitchen
table. "When is it due?"
Fast-forward to 3:12 in the morning. My
husband and I hover over crafts-gone-wild. I hallucinate on glue
and snort Styrofoam bits.
My husband, Patton, nods toward the
plastic pilot on the wing. "You've got him wrong. He's sitting
Irritation makes my face itch. "What,
is an aeronautic historian bringing the snacks tomorrow?
Eleven-year-olds won't know the difference."
Trouble is, Patton does. He notices
every error ever burned onto celluloid. During "Star Wars," he
shouts at Chewbacca and R2D2. "Luke needs stealth and those two are
making all that racket!"
"The real guy faced backward," he
I grit my teeth. Soon I will
court-martial myself with a fistful of toothpicks and pretend his
head is a pin cushion.
Grumbling, Patton yanks the pilot from
his perch and flips him. He spikes toothpicks around the body to
anchor the toy.
"No wonder Orville kept the flight
short." I glance at the toothpick placement. "He could either make
history or reproduce."
All-knowing, Patton corrects me when I
say 'thingy.' It's a cantilever.
"Cantilever, eh? Well, I can't-believer
we're up this late," I crack. "Be grateful we didn't have to build
the Great Wall of China."
"Too bad," Patton says. "I'd entomb you
in a section."
We collapse around 4:30. My head spins
from fumes. My vision is blurred, my hands, numb. But I revel on a
positive note. The FBI can never link me to a crime, because glue
has seared all flesh from my fingerprints.
Later, my boys get ready for school. My
youngest tries to pick up the plane.
"Don't TOUCH it!" I shriek, like he's
near a nuclear reactor.
I have no idea how he'll keep this
thing intact. The instant he bumps into something, Popsicle sticks
will fly like a barn in an Oklahoma twister. Some kid's foot will
end up impaled and we'll be greeting an attorney in the principal's
I hold my breath and pray.
They make it inside school.
That afternoon, I'm eager for news.
What grade did he get? Any comment on Orville's historical
accuracy? Will the plane be displayed at the Smithsonian? Will the
teacher award us The Skittle Heart for acts of last-minute heroism,
defying Exacto knives and divorce court?
Before my oldest can reply, my
second-grader whoops, "I'm going to be an astronaut!"
He'll need a spacesuit, rocket and
freeze-dried Chicken Nuggets. Blast off's scheduled in the gym.
I don't even ask when it's due. I already know.
Cheryl O'Donovan is a humor writer living in
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