Boys, Procrastination, and Pirate Centaurs

Daryl is not real big on doing school work. It doesn’t much matter whether it’s work in the classroom, homework, or a test. He just doesn’t like spending time on it. As a result, he tends to wait until the last possible minute and/or rush through the assignment.

Some examples.

In fifth grade this year, they were to create a T-shirt book report for a book they had read. They were to color a representative picture on the front, something on the back, write some text on the sleeves. I can’t recall the details now. When Jane did it three years earlier, she spent quite a bit of time on it. Her depiction of the main character’s face was so… close to being human-like yet off… that it freaked the dog out.

Daryl’s shirt was completed in the span of maybe an hour. Wait, I’ll give him some credit. He did break out the craft paints so maybe it took two. Although he couldn’t be bothered to put a board inside the shirt to make sure the paint didn’t bleed through. His grade was not great – in large part because the required text wasn’t on the sleeves, nor were other clearly specified details present.

He claims he wrote the text on index cards and taped them to the sleeves but they “must have fallen off.” So not only did a kid who should (via both Destination Imagination and TAG) be a good problem-solver fail to consider that tape might not be the best way to bind cardstock to cloth, but he failed to even notice that the cards weren’t there when he turned it in.

Way, way back in Kindergarten, he earned the distinction of the only one of our children to fail to test into TAG (Talented & Gifted) on the first attempt. Because he couldn’t be bothered to slow down and take the test at the pace encouraged by the teacher.

Both of those times, he at least got the logical consequence for his decisions. His latest moment of procrastination did not. We arrived home one evening and he announced he needed a shoebox to make a diorama of a scene from a fantasy book he had read.

I gave him a shoebox and asked when it was due.


“Tomorrow?! What do you need to make?”

“I don’t know yet.”

“Um, ok. What book are you doing?”

“I can’t remember.”

“You don’t remember? How are you going to build a diorama if you don’t remember the book?”

“I remember the book. I just don’t remember the title.”

“Ok, so what scene are you going to construct?”

“I don’t remember because I can’t remember which book.”

“But wait, you just said…”

Mom {exasperated}, I know the book. I just can’t remember which book. I’ve read a lot. I can’t remember which one I was going to do.”

“Well, ok, so where’s the book?”

“It’s in Daddy’s car.”

I handed him my phone to call his Dad and ask him the title of the book. He refused to take the phone. “I’ll just wait until he gets home.”

“No you won’t. He won’t be home for awhile now.” With that, I called my husband who agreed to bring the book home before heading to his next evening activity.

“Why don’t you gather some supplies while you wait?”

“How can I gather supplies if I don’t know what I’m building?”

“Certain supplies are likely to be used: construction paper, glue, markers, paint…”

He rolled his eyes.

I left to pick up Hal, sternly warning Daryl that he better get something planned while I was away.

When I returned, he was in the driveway spray painting a rough circle of blue on the base of the diorama. Clusters of cotton ball clouds hung from the top (pretty clever, actually – still don’t know where he found that fishing line). He informed me that the scene was when mythological Jason and his friends battled a Centaur who was attempting to poison a pond.

“How are you going to make a Centaur?” I asked. He didn’t know. He thought maybe clay, but with a broken thumb, seemed to think I should construct his lifeforms for him. His dad soon came home and discouraged the clay idea.

I took him to his room and started digging through the toy bins, holding up various action figure type beings as candidates for the humanoid half of the Centaur. He dismissed them all. Aladdin looked too much like… well, Aladdin. And Anakin Skywalker looked too much like Anakin, and was wearing a shirt – which Centaurs don’t do, and was too small anyway to attach to the body of the horse figure we had found.

I returned to the strongest candidate: a barrel-chested pirate whose torso was actually (for some reason) segmented separately from his legs, making him easy to sever. The pirate was a bad choice, by my son’s reckoning, because he was… a pirate. A Centaur wouldn’t wear a bandana on his head or wear straps on his chest or sport a huge  mustache or hold a massive carved sword.

I took the opportunity to point out that waiting until the last minute to do an assignment like this limited his options. He reluctantly accepted the pirate.

Seeing as how plastic horses and plastic pirates are not easy to cut and his dominant hand was useless anyway, his Dad and I performed the necessary surgeries. I found a green plastic party tablecloth for him to use for grass. And then I dragged out the Texan and Mexican “army people” that had stood in battle on his fourth grade Alamo project. He hadn’t yet found what to do for Jason and his buddies.

“What about these?” I asked.

“No! They don’t look like Romans at all!”

“Ok, so it’s due tomorrow. If you wanted your dudes to actually look Roman, you probably should have started this project earlier.”

With that, I found three guys who weren’t wearing cowboy hats. One of them was Davy Crockett, complete with his coon skin cap, but hey, beggars can’t be choosers.

“But they are holding guns!” Actually, they were holding both guns and, fortuitously, swords. All three of them. I handed the men to my knife-weilding husband, who deftly cut the guns from the Texans’ hands.

Daryl grumbled, but he knew he had nothing better to go with. He glued the grass to the box and the men to the grass. He then worked on his index card to describe the scene. When I next saw him, he was using double-sided tape to attach the index card to the box. Except he was trying to use the tape like regular Scotch tape.

“Um, why are you using that tape?” I asked.

“Because there isn’t any regular tape.”

“But why are you using it like regular tape?” I asked. “The cool thing about double-sided tape – the entire point of double-sided tape, is to attach two objects without the tape showing. What you’ve done leaves a sticky surface to collect dirt!”

I then showed him what he should have been able to figure out on his own: placing the double-sided tape between the box and the index card. I sighed when I noticed the clouds were attached to the top of the box with more double-sided tape.

At any rate, when we were done, he had a reasonably decent looking diorama. That he got a perfect score on. Which made him laugh. And I knew that by helping him find supplies, I had unwittingly set his road to maturity back a bit. Not that he would have cared if he had gotten a bad grade. No, despite his high intelligence, low grades don’t bother him at all.

I know I had a picture of the completed diorama but now I can’t find it, so here’s the Pirate Centaur Extraordinaire.20150430_075346