Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Guilt

I have the guilt. The guilt that all parents feel when they have too many school projects lying around the house. Seriously. For those of you who do not have children, I'll describe it for you: mountains of paper, in every nook and cranny, on every level surface that can hold something. It's viral. It's intimidating.

I know that teachers want us to see that our child is doing something during the day. That they are making progress. I get that. But when you consider how much they are sending home, you really wonder about their motivation. Multiply those projects by 25 students, and it becomes clear. In the words of the late, great comedian Mitch Hedberg, it's like they're sending home the projects and saying, "Here, YOU throw this away."

I made a colossal school-project mistake recently. It was my choice of garbage bag that did me in. I had discreetly tucked my 7-year-old's schoolwork into the bottom of the kitchen trash bag and covered it with various and sundry kitchen cast-offs. What I did not consider was the only-slightly opaque nature of the white Costco trash bags that we use. On trash day, my son spotted the covertly disposed schoolwork and threw a fit. He apparently was quite attached to his math work of weeks gone by and did not want to see it go. After his much weeping and wailing and my refusal to go dumpster diving, I wrested the bag to the curb. Thank goodness he's got a short memory.

I once heard of a great idea from a parenting magazine/public service t.v. spot/Dalai Lama or somewhere. The idea is to place your child's beloved work into a gigantic envelope and mail it off to a poor, unsuspecting grandparent. It's like telling your child that his deceased Rover has gone to live at Happy Farm with all the other doggies. The child is appeased and thrilled to know that his work is in a better place.

But what of the inhabitants of that "better place?" Do these poor grandparents really know what has hit them? A manifestation of love in a deluge of paper. Actually, it's more like me saying across 3,000 miles, "Here, YOU throw this away!"

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