I'm Lindsay Ferrier, a Nashville writer with a passion for family travel, exploring Tennessee, and raising kids without losing my mind in the process. This is where I share my discoveries, along with occasional deep thoughts, pop culture tangents and a sprinkling of snark. Want to get in touch? Use the CONTACT form at the top of the page.
November 19, 2019
A few days ago, I did something I generally try to avoid — I bragged about my kid on Facebook.
I hadn’t bragged in a while, mostly because my Facebook feed is already filled with other parents’ brags, and I think that stream is polluted enough already without me adding to it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled with the news that your kid just landed a date to the dance/told an absolutely hysterical joke/discovered he liked beets after all/burped and farted at the same time — but reading brag after brag after brag gets a tiny bit boring if I’m being completely honest. I mean, can’t we just all sign something on Change.org agreeing every single one of our kids is really truly super special so that we can free up our feeds for more meaningful content, like which Real Housewife is our spirit animal and why? Is that too much to ask?
Unfortunately, my brag aversion had reached such epic proportions that my kids actually asked me recently why I hadn’t bragged about them online in a while. At that point, I was forced to break down and brag, lest my kids grow up needing therapy because I didn’t consistently document their achievements on social media. I chose to brag on Facebook about my son’s induction into Junior Beta Club. For added flare, I tacked on a brag about his good behavior at school. I could almost hear thousands of mothers gagging as I typed the words, which was just what I was going for because when it comes to online bragging, I think it’s a go big or go home kind of situation. What happened the next day as a result seemed inevitable, in retrospect.
My son got sent to the assistant principal’s office.
His crime, from what I could gather, was tossing a Dum Dum to another student before class. You may think this sounds like a silly thing for a teacher to get upset about, but I’m sure that without her timely intervention, one thing could have led to another and then another over the ensuing years, eventually resulting in my son becoming every mother’s worst nightmare: a Dr. Phil guest. I’m glad she nipped that risky behavior in the bud and I feel confident the assistant principal was able to sort things out. I don’t really know how assistant principal visits work these days — I imagine there was questioning and a bright light, as well as an evidence box at the school somewhere that now has a Dum Dum inside it, carefully fingerprinted, bagged, and labelled should further investigation be warranted.
I was concerned, of course, that this very uncharacteristic principal’s office visit was the direct karmic result of my Facebook brag. My suspicions were confirmed a few days ago, when my son told me he had a project due THE VERY NEXT DAY and would need me to take him to the store immediately to purchase an expensive assortment of supplies to assemble said project — supplies that would include wire 😱 , wire cutters 😱, a hot glue gun 😱, large metal rings 😱, and ‘at least 50‘ styrofoam balls 😱😱😱. Unlike our other kids, my son has never, ever been a do-a-project-the-day-before-it’s-due kind of person, so to say I was blindsided is… well, it’s entirely accurate. I was blindsided. And I was very tempted to remove that brag from Facebook before it did any more damage. But first, I tried to make sense of the situation with my son.
“Is this the same project your science teacher has been emailing about for weeks?” I asked him. “Why are you telling me about this project THE DAY BEFORE IT’S DUE?” Oh, reader. If you have a 12-year-old boy, never, ever ask this question unless you want your head to explode.
“I’ve had a sore throat,” he told me. “And I’ve been very stressed because YOU MADE ME take the PSAT. As if I wasn’t already stressed enough! And I’m supposed to read 12 books for the Junior Beta Club convention and talk about them on stage. That is also very stressful. And I missed two days of school over the last six weeks, so I have no idea what’s going on in class. And my leg hurts. And you never said anything when the teacher sent e-mails. And it rained a lot the other day. And the Dodgers didn’t make it to the World Series. And…”
“Okay, okay!” I said. “Enough! The thing is, you knew this project was due and you chose not to do it. So what’s your plan?”
“I don’t have one,” he said sullenly. “I lost the instruction sheet.”
“Well, no more screen time until you’ve finished your project,” I said. After a long howl of dismay, the kid miraculously found the instruction sheet and came up with a plan in no time flat. Off we went to Michael’s ten minutes later with a list of supplies in hand and a profoundly irritated look on my face. We began our quest in the styrofoam aisle.
“Okay, make sure you pick out exactly what you need,” I told him. “Because we are absolutely not coming back.”
“Oh look, this is cool,” he said, grabbing a gigantic styrofoam ball from a hanging basket.
“You don’t need that, do you?” I asked nervously. “It’s 19 dollars!”
“No, I just think it’s cool,” he said. “So is this.” He had turned his attention to a bunch of squishy rubber balls featured on the aisle’s end cap.
“Focus!” I said. “We are only here for your project! Nothing else!”
“Aww,” my son said. He picked up a package of smaller styrofoam balls. “Will these work?” he asked me.
“How should I know?” I said. “It’s not my project.”
He stood staring at them for a long moment.
“Do you want them or not?” I said.
“I don’t know,” he answered.
“Yes,” I said. “The answer is yes.” I grabbed three packages. “Okay, what’s next?” My son wandered out of the aisle and then paused in the middle of the store. “I don’t know,” he muttered again, then brightened. “Look at this!” He grabbed a package of neon markers “These are cool.”
“But you don’t need them for your project!” I sputtered. “What is next on your list?” He paused and looked at it.
“Well,” he said, “we’re going to need wire for when we put on the styrofoam balls.”
“Wait. Did you say we?” I said. “What is this we?”
“Aren’t you going to help me?” he asked plaintively.
“Well I would, but you know what they say,” I said.
“What?” he asked.
“There’s no ‘we’ in ‘project.” I told him.
“Mom,” my son said, rolling his eyes.
Suddenly, one of his buddies appeared out of nowhere. “Hey Bruiser,” he said, grinning.
“Hey, Marvin,” my son replied, grinning. Then they both stood there and continued to grin at each other in the indecipherable, unspoken language of 12-year-old boys.
“Let me guess,” I said to Marvin, breaking the deafening silence. “You’re here to get supplies for your science project.”
“Yep,” he said, still grinning.
“That’s due tomorrow.”
“And I bet your parents are as thrilled about it as I am,” I said.
“Yep,” he said.
“Okay, well, nice to see you,” I said. “We’ve got to be going now.” Gently, I herded my son away from the grin fest. “We’re looking for the wire aisle,” I reminded him but it didn’t help matters. Faced with so many colorful art supplies and Christmas decorations and shiny plastic thingamabobs, he seemed completely unable to move or even remember why he was there unless I continually prodded him in the back and whispered “project” through gritted teeth. After several minutes of this, we finally managed to find the wire aisle. That’s where we found the mother of another of my son’s classmates, looking every bit as lost and frustrated as I felt.
“Atom project?” I asked.
“Yes. I can’t even believe this,” she said.
I grabbed a small bolt of wire and turned to find my son had disappeared. I located him in the candy section. “I can’t do this anymore,” I said in a faint voice as he held up a package of gummy bears pleadingly. “We’ll never get out of here. Never.” I pictured myself collapsing in a heap on the floor, surrounded by tiny, bouncing styrofoam balls. Would it be a crime to fake my own death in order to teach my son a lesson about waiting until the last minute to do his science project? The stunt had viral potential, that’s for sure. Michael’s might even make me the star of an advertising campaign. I thought for a moment, but abandoned the plan. My left knee has been bothering me and I worried a stunt fall might make it worse.
Eventually, after two Ice Ages and a few million years passed, we managed to gather everything we needed and check out. We arrived home and my son assembled his project in record time, motivated entirely by the Fortnite that awaited him in the playroom the moment he was done. Surely, I thought, this marked the end of my Facebook brag penance.
The next morning, about five minutes after my son arrived at school, I received the following text:
I LEFT MY PROJECT AT HOME!!!!