Thanks to That Odd Mom for publishing my rant on projects!

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  three faithful readers (thanks, mom-in-law!) know that I am a teacher. Teachers assign 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.

Stage 1 — I got a project.

“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.)

Stage 2 — Remember, I got that project.

“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.)

Stage 3 — Let’s go shopping for that project.

“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.

Stage 4 — I need to do that project.

“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.

Stage 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.

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

Stage 6 — Getting the flipping project to school.

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?

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

Stage 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.

My kid’s Science project.

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, 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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