Learning Fair…

When Jake was in elementary school, there were quite a few projects the students had to complete at home for the Learning Fair in May. When I taught there, my students completed projects in class- accordion poetry books, salt clay topography maps of the USA… As creative and crafty as I was, I resented Jake’s projects.  He had no interest in doing them, and I felt like they should have been done in school.  No matter how grand mine was, it would not compare to what Collins’ dad would make. That dad was the BOMB! The Learning Fair was a competition among parents.  It started in the first grade when I built a replica of the courthouse. The following year, Molly asked for some paint and glitter glue. She had a hand full of plastic ocean animals from the upstairs bathtub. What are you doing?  “I am making an ocean diorama for the Learning Fair,”  Now wait a minute… She didn’t ask for my help; she didn’t want my help. Are the other mom’s and dad’s helping? She shrugged. She didn’t care. She absolutely did not want my help on her diorama.  I bit my tongue. I grimaced as I pictured it being displayed among the grand designs of the other parents. At least everyone, especially her teacher, would know that Molly had done it all by herself, right? To my surprise, Molly’s project blended in just fine. I stood there and beamed with pride. Not only did it look just fine, it looked like a first grader did it. Most of them looked like they were done by a first grader. I resigned myself to never being able to out-do Collins’ dad- he’s a great guy, and I looked forward to his achievements.  He and his son hopefully had a great time making them. I continued to help Jake on his “artsy crafts” when he asked. It was not his cup of tea, and I understood his frustration. Molly never asked me for any help on any project- her fierce independence. They might not have been the best, but they were hers. She is working on her Valedictorian speech. I will not see it or hear it until she delivers it during graduation…

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