I Hate School Writing Projects

The good news is that my girls never get writer’s block when asked to write stories in school. The bad news is… they always seem to write about the family.

Sometimes the results are very cute – like this year, when Patti wrote about our big hotdog mystery. What happened to the hotdog that I put in a bun on the counter top? The plate and wet bun were still there, but the hotdog was gone! It was a mystery that was never solved, and that’s cute.

Sadly, however, Patti is developing her mother’s gift for remembering embarrassing details. All of our crazy banter made it into her story, from my husband teasing me about having hotdogs for dinner to the image of me running around goofily repeating, "Where could that hotdog be?"

It kind of makes you wonder what the teachers are thinking when they read all these things. Do they believe every word? Do they develop a doctor’s sense of, "Oh, I’ve seen it all, so nothing fazes me" – or do they consider calling the cops!?

I thought of that when Patti wrote about my reaction to Suzi drawing two-foot-long centipedes all over our brand new couch a few years back. I didn’t hurt anyone, but my, um, exasperation could probably be heard throughout the neighborhood! Patti made that very clear.

Now Suzi is in the act of writing about her home life and I am afraid – especially if her first story is a sign of what’s to come in the future! This week she brought home a cutely illustrated booklet titled, "My summer vacation."

How sweet!

I opened the packet and read about sand, water and the cottage we rented with other family members. But then the story took on a sinister tone. I had completely forgotten about this. One night, after eating a huge pile of macaroni and cheese at a restaurant, and then enjoying a neon blue ice cream cone on Grand Haven’s boardwalk, Suzi woke at 2:30 a.m., whimpered once and threw up green fun all over herself and her bed and the floor. The Exorcist would have been grossed out!

There were nine family members in the house, but naturally only Mommy heard it. I woke to clean it all up, get wet paper towels, change Suzi’s jammies, change the sheets, put the dirty stuff in the creepy basement for washing the next day and then put a drowsy Suzi back to sleep in her freshly made bed. I guess I forgot because when it happened I was in Robot Mom Mode – those moments when no matter how tired and grossed out you are, there is no one else to do the icky dirty work, so you just make it happen. We both fell asleep quickly afterwards.

Turns out Suzi remembers the experience differently, of course. To me it was middle-of-the-night drudgery. To her it was horrible and scary. It took her two sentences to describe the experience. 1. She threw up lots of green stuff, and 2. No one hugged her.

Ack! Guilt! Horror! I’m the worst mom in the world!

I felt so bad for Suzi when I read it. I apologized and hugged her and talked about it. And then I wondered what her teacher must have thought. Oy!

But the truth is it’s only fair. After all, I write about my poor little darlings every week, always getting to shape the stories, tell my side, create our official family history. I’m kind of asking for it.

Somehow I just thought it would be many more years before my kids would seek their vengeance.


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