The 7 Stages of “my kid has got a project” HELL

In Dante’s Inferno, he outlines nine layers of hell. In parenting, there are 7 stages of a different type of hell: school project hell.

My kid’s Science project.

My three faithful readers (thanks, mom-in-law!), know that I am a teacher. Teachers give projects. Over the twenty-two years of my career, I have assigned small, medium, and large projects. Now that I am a parent of school-age children, I would like to apologize to all of the parents of my students. I am so sorry. Please forgive me, I did not understand about the seven layers of parental project hell.

1. I got a project.

Kid: “Mom, I got a project in…”

I stop listening right there. I don’t care. Is it my project? Do I need to do it? (All you good parents out there on the internet can start judging me now, I don’t care.)

2. Remember, I got that project.

Kid: “Mom, remember I got that project?”

Yes, I do. See my mental response to number 1. (Judgers: I only think things, I don’t say things.)

3. Let’s go shopping for that project.

Kid: “Mom, that project is due. I need you to buy me glue, tape, beads, poster paper, (and a high grade.)”

Great. I would love to spend hours shopping for supplies for a project. Let’s go to one of those crafty stores that force me to recognize my lack of Martha Stewart skills. That will be fun.

4. I need to do that project.

No photo credit needed because this is my actual fucking table.

Kid: “Mom, I need a space to do that project, can I use the dining room table?”

Sure, your project is not due for like three more weeks, and I love clutter. Be my guest, let my dining room table (that family heirloom that you may, or may not, be inheriting) be your work table.

5. “I don’t think this project will ever be done.”

You know why? Because it won’t. My dining room is going to be a disaster forever.

6. Getting the flipping project to school.

Yup, still my table. I own the photo, the table, and the memories.

Other caring parents say: “Oh, what a nice project. Wow!”

Other delusional parents say: “I love projects!”

I think: Will this fit in my car?

7. Storing the now dead project.

I attend the fair. I see my kid’s project — the project I have seen for over a month by now. I get to see other kid’s projects. Those children’s projects are great, but they are not my kid’s. The hoopla is over, the final layer complete. But, a crucial question remains: DO WE NEED TO KEEP THIS PROJECT?

Ultimately, many student projects are really family projects. For a student to complete a project well, it usually becomes a group effort in some way. My children’s father is a much better parent. He listens and helps our children. I, on the other hand, obviously, contribute the grumbling, the nagging, and the transportation.


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I write from where I am--a veteran public school teacher, a co-owner of a small business with my mechanic husband, and a mother of two busy daughters.

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