It's due tomorrow

Mom and dad pick up the pieces, literally, on school projects


 
 

Cheryl O’Donovan

'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?"

"Tomorrow."

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 forward."

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 insists.

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 office.

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 Schaumburg.

 
 





 
 
 
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