The real value of duct tape

I am not a crafty mom. I do not make ceramics or embroidered pillows. When buttons fall off shirts, I am forced to take them to the dry cleaners for repair. Glitter has never once entered my house.

So when my son Daniel arrived from school with a four-page instruction sheet this week detailing his last project of the year, I cringed.

I reviewed the assignment: “Design and Build a Roman Ship.”


There were exacting guidelines on how the stern and bow were to be crafted. Multiple sails were required. Best of all? The teacher expected the thing to float. I couldn’t help but think she was confusing the parents and children with James Cameron.

My ability to assist on these assignments is zilch. I possess no working knowledge of metrics or engineering. I do not know how fast glue dries. I can’t even make sense of rudimentary instructions once they get past “This Side in English.”

My talents lie elsewhere. I work with the boys on music and chess. I can schedule a packed day of carpools, sports, and orthodontist appointments like no other. Laundry is executed and choreographed to glorious perfection so as not to waste a single moment between loads.

But trying to build the Eiffel Tower out of pipe cleaners or a scale model of the John Hancock using matchsticks?

I got nothing.

It wasn’t like I was unwilling to provide some aid. I did buy Daniel Popsicle sticks. I covered the table in newspaper. I even offered a bottle of wood glue and wished him well.

Then I started another load of laundry.

I fully expect to spend years walking into the gym at school fairs knowing my boys’ projects are probably hidden behind the volleyball rack. They will be considered unsightly due to the overzealous use of duct tape. They will exist in complete opposition to the directives, imperatives, and very purpose of the project.

No, the Walsh Family will not be winning awards for a working model of the old Chicago trolley system or the reverse engineering of the Chicago River.

But that’s OK.

Because I really don’t believe in a world where every parent deserves a trophy for everything.

But I do believe in a world where little boys learn to appreciate the immense power of duct tape.

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