Last night my third daughter and I completed our family’s last cereal box book report. *Big sigh* I get a little sappy when my youngest child does something for the last time. The last time she used training wheels, the last car ride in a booster seat, even the last pull-up got me a little misty. The final cereal box book report was no different. It harkened me back to the two previous cereal box book reports which went something like this:
Actually I’ve forgotten how this one went and so has she. Her only recollection: “It involved a lot of glitter.” But I can hazard a strong guess at how it transpired. She found the perfect size of cereal box in the pantry, broke the seal, poured all the cereal into the trash, and skipped to the dining room table with it under her arm. If I’d caught her pouring the cereal out I would have gone on and on for days about it, but this one’s pretty clever so she probably poured it out when I was in the bathroom hiding from life. Then she created something fabulous out of it. She has an innate creative bend, this one, plus she’s crazy competitive, so I’m sure the other 3rd grade cereal boxes wanted to slink back to their grocery store shelves once her installation was complete. She was given an A+++ and floated on air for several moments, until another competition surfaced and kicked this one out of both of our memories forever, all except the glitter.
Middle daughter came out of her room the night before the report was due and plunked her completed cereal box in front of me. I only knew it was due because she had asked me for the empty box at breakfast that morning. This one uses resources wisely, a true embodiment of the Girl Scout Law she recites so earnestly at her semi-monthly meetings, but her time management could use some time management. And the cereal box book report, good grief! It was the original box with a couple of illegible scribbles, maybe a sticky note here or there, I don’t remember exactly, but an urgent intervention was in order. I played it cool. “Honey, I think we might be able to liven this up a bit. Go get the glue sticks, Elmer’s glue, two-sided tape, glitter glue, glue tabs, rubber cement, and glue gun. Also your big sister. I’ll find the rest. I just saw some gold paper and puffy letters somewhere…” She worked on the puzzles for the back of the box with her dad (puzzles and dad not pictured). Then she constructed a truly magnificent fort for the cat while I worked the paper slicer and big sister attached stars and cereal. “Don’t forget to save room for the compelling sales piece! We want someone to offer good money for this cereal,” I growled. We were all proud of this masterpiece and rightly so.
Youngest child has been talking about the book report since it was assigned a month ago (Time management-check!). She put a cereal box aside once it was emptied properly (Girl Scout Law-check!). “When are we going to work on my book report?” she kept asking me. But I’ve been to this rode twice already, and I wouldn’t bite. “Work on your book report? We? Little sister, I’ve already completed 3rd grade and all of my book reports. This is your book report! Plus, I recently listened to a podcast where it was unequivocally stated that you are not getting into Stanford if I do your book reports! So you’re on your own, kid! Break a leg!” I swung myself onto the couch and resumed watching Cupcake Battles: The Aftermath. But third child didn’t move. I felt her eyes burning into my skull. Finally I glanced over at her. I noticed the one tiny brown speck in her bright blue eyes, the only piece of me that made the DNA cut. Her chubby cheeks now replaced by chiseled features. The halo of golden fuzz around her face, once christening her with the nickname The Fuzzer, now neatly combed and tucked behind her ears. “Well, we should probably strategize,” I said. “What’s your vision?”
She pointed and I glued. She wrote and I edited. She vetoed my edits and almost every suggestion I made as she colored, highlighted, outlined, and cut. I re-glued, especially at the pesky corners, bitterly regretting my first choice of adhesive.
And there you have it. Three cereal box book reports all completed in their own way, with different levels of interference from a Tiger Mom who knows better than to interfere. Such is growing up, and such is life.
Photo Credit: Lindsey Salatka and Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash