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Perhaps one of the greatest perks of being a teacher nowadays, is assigning projects as homework. The messier and more elaborate the better. Maniacal laugh.

Parker was given the assignment of making a 3-D model of a cell. He could use any medium he wanted. So he picked food. *cringe* We tried to talk him out of it. We suggested using Lego bricks or anything else that didn’t have a high potential for being turned in as smoosh.

He insisted on food.

Food is an anxiety trigger for me for some reason. And then the assignment was due the day Heath left for San Francisco. Trigger number two. How to survive? Call Grandma.

Parker did his part. He figured out all the cake and candy he would need for each part of the cell. He had an elaborate drawing and everything. Once again we tried to talk him out of this idea. He stuck to his guns. So then he went shopping with his dad for all the refined sugar needed. I’m not even Catholic and I was ready to cross myself.

Luckily we were hosting a family dinner party on Saturday. Grandma and Grandpa came early. Somehow I was roped into preparing the cake to be baked. It was more like all of us were telling Parker to follow the directions and make the cake. When he had a deer in the headlights expression my control issues took over and I ended up mixing cake batter. My kids have led sheltered lives with me not ever really craving sweets.

After dinner the cake had cooled and was ready to be turned into a cell with Grandma. The kitchen turned into a confectioner disaster area. Gobs of icing dotted the countertop. Colored Nerds were scattered everywhere. It felt as though any dish not used for dinner had been used for the cell project. When I was cleaning up I asked Heath why his rolling pin was out and what he wanted me to do with it. He looked tired as he said, “I don’t even want to know why that’s out! I’ll take care of it.”


I have to say, it turned out better than I imagined. Dark thoughts were transmitted telepathically to the teacher for also insisting the cell be labeled. Sometimes I am convinced that teachers are so jealous of parents for their role in children’s lives that the teachers go out of their way to make life difficult. Parker can be very resourceful. He quickly came up with the idea of using the label maker.

Parker had to own this project. He knew I was very much opposed to it along with the timing. Of course rain was forecast for Monday. Rain to rival the rains that inspired Noah to build an ark. Even if I was the kind of parent to take my kid to school, I couldn’t. Gwen still needs to go to school after her brothers leave, and my built in babysitter was in the air jetting toward San Francisco. Parker insisted he was fine carrying the cell.

I couldn’t shake the nightmarish vision of him tripping somewhere between home and school. I read some news story of a kid who tripped up the bus stairs carrying enough cupcakes for his class. The bus driver saw happy birthday smoosh and felt awful. After taking the kids to school she went home to bake and frost replacement cupcakes that she then delivered to the kid’s class. True story! No amount of sympathy could replace an unfortunately scrambled cell. Which is why I took pictures. For evidence. Proof to the teacher that yes, we did the blasted assignment and yes, at one point it looked great.

Overpreparing was unnecessary. Parker and his cell made it safely to school completely intact. He triumphantly brought it home after school. He has been eating it a little bit at a time every afternoon since. It makes my stomach turn but he loves it! For all the grief we gave him beforehand, I’m glad he is enjoying the sugar of his labors. And mad props to Grandma for her role in all of this. When your parents don’t love you, at least you have grandparents who do!