My fifth-grader came home this week with instructions for his first research project. A research project. My baby. The youngest of my three kids. The one who’s never supposed to grow up. I remember like it was yesterday sitting at the kiddie table in my den with a bucket of crayons, and the lesson of the day was “staying in the lines.” It really can’t be that long ago… Now we have to do a research project.
He chose Marco Polo as his subject. In the coming days we’ll be learning about Marco’s life and adventures, and I’ll be trying to get a 10-yr old boy in modern America to relate to the concept of an “undiscovered” world. I’m not looking forward to that. But what I am looking forward to is sitting at the table with him, having his undivided attention, and holding on to him for a moment.
As any mom will tell you (especially one with at least as many kids as I have) is that days are long. We rise early, ready ourselves, wake the family, make sure everyone’s fed, wearing the right uniforms, delivered to the right schools at the right time, then start our day. As soon as we get a little momentum, it’s almost time for the school bell to ring — and then the real chaos begins. Carpool, after-school activities, homework, dinner, showers and bedtime. Just getting it all done takes drill-sergeant-like qualities, which don’t necessarily bring out the best in a mom. I know from my frequent chats with other moms that I’m not the only one who collapses as soon as the last kid hits his pillow. We’re wiped out long before then.
Each day seems like a long journey. But then they run together, and the time compresses, and before you know it one is in college, one is in high school, and one has to do a research project.
The days are long. But the years are short.