Boy came home with a little homework project, to design a bridge out of recycled materials. Simple instructions… a bridge that can support 500g, to be thought up and made by them. Parents could help, but the kids should do it themselves. We had 2 weeks to complete it. We talked it over, put aside materials and then sort of forgot about it until the weekend before. Plenty of time for a grade 3 project…

He picked out 2 of the large sized yogurt containers for supports, and a cereal box from the recycling corner. And set to work affixing cereal box to the containers. I left him with the materials for a few minutes so he would do his own thinking, and then came back to help by using painters tape to keep things in place while he stuck the thing together with something stronger… Pretty simple stuff, but hey, for grade 3, pretty good stuff. We didn’t have anything of 500gs around, so we tested it with a new jar of peanut butter which was a good 250 heavier than what he needed. Held strong. His work his idea. He was proud of himself. A good little ‘beam’ bridge. We bagged it up and off he went with his hard work in hand.

And then we got to his line up this morning and there are all these kids with bridges all brightly painted made of popsicle sticks and cardboard and string and I was thinking oh man did we not do enough? Will he still be proud of his hard work if it isn’t painted bright blue? Did i fail him? Are the rest of the 8 year olds in his class genius engineers who have way more skill than I do? Or can I presume to suspect that they might have fathers who are genius engineers with way more constructing skill than I have? hmmmmmmm. (Is it terrible of me to think that I bet some of those pretty constructs wouldn’t hold a 750g jar of peanut butter?!)

I hope he still brims with pride at his own hard work and success. I know the teacher will see he did his own work and did his best. Please let her say so! And we have a successful home work memory to go on now, which is a rarity of its own kind. We worked together, planning it out, he tested and felt successful. I know him though. He always sees what is better around him. So I am sitting here with cold coffee and nagging heart.  This is parenting, isn’t it, carrying around stress for your kids, when they aren’t even in the room. Good practice for as he gets older I guess.

Maybe this can be turned around as inspiration. Do our best and then see what we can do to step it up a notch. I still want him to be proud of his work, but it might not hurt to know he is capable of more. We were so focused on function we didn’t even think of decorating it. Which is out of character! Maybe we can make another bridge for fun together. Or maybe we can forget the entire incident and step it up for next year! Or maybe I can stop agonizing over this, at least until I hear all about it later?!

***** ps it turns out that the aesthetics were only enviable until it came time to test the weights and mister massive recycled materials had the strongest bridge in class. so he was totally over it 😀 and because I am His mother and not someone elses I was glad for him ❤


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