Thursday, October 30, 2008

The First Ever Matronly Cooking Lesson

Forget Rachel Ray! You have the Matron. Here's her secret recipe!


Recipe for Disaster


  • One highly sensitive, intelligent, serious and rule-bound 12-year old boy
  • Junior High Science Fair Project Literature Review, due tomorrow
  • One anxious, rule-bound, guilt-inclined and generally phobic mother
  • Large variety of college-level academic databases to which said mother has access
  • One completely inappropriate and impossible to research (and highly original) Junior High Science Project


First, be sure to take the Student-Parent Science Fair Project Handbook, received October 14th, and set aside in a folder on the mother's desk, never to be looked at again. To perfect this recipe, said folder must be set aside. If you do remember the folder, then you would read the section that says: "Students should go to the Murray Junior High or public library for their research. Using the catalogs there, use keywords to find your topic."

If you do know that you're to use the library, and not electronic databases, the entire recipe will be ruined.

Second, be sure the Project itself is unusual enough that no amount of research--in the library or online--will be fruitful. The original Project is a good example of the texture and quality that yours should be. In this Project, 15-20 12-year old boys will play video games with a small wire ring around their index fingers and a bowl of candy on top of the video games. Whenever they play badly, the boys will be shocked by a remote control 'shocker' conceptualized, designed and built by the highly sensitive, intelligent and rule-bound boy. Then, the boys will be rewarded for good video-gaming with candy. The hypothesis will be that boys playing video games respond more to negative consequences than positive consequences.

Boys must require a parental waiver and the experiment may not be conducted anywhere on or near School District 656 official property. Garnering permission for this Project is an entirely different recipe, found on page 9,451.

Sigh. (That's optional but adds flavor)

Third, get down to the wire. Finish the Literature Review the night before it's due. If you want your Disaster perfected--with that flaky crust and tender middle--make sure that you piddle away the after school hours into the evening.

Now that you've got everything prepared, stir everything together in a big bowl, except the large variety of college level data bases. That's the last ingredient.

You'll know the batter is ready when everyone is lumpy and thick. Time is running out. The texture starts to look alternately tense and tragic. There is no real good online, age-appropriate research to be found under the anxious mother's instruction. Just when the entire mess starts to curdle, toss in the college-level data bases. This is not only the last ingredient, but the secret one!

As you stir, you'll know everything progresses smoothly if the highly sensitive, intelligent 12-year old boy starts to crumble under the weight of the academic data bases. You'll notice language like this: "According to the analytical conventions of the generalized operant law of matches, bias (log b (double dagger) 0) would indicate no differential impact by one type of consequence; however no systematic bias was observed."

At this delicate point in the process, you should see the rule-bound anxious mother next to that language, gleefully pointing: "See! That's perfect! Perfect!" The 12 year old has no idea what is going on and that? Makes him angry.

The 12-year old frustration/anger and maternal certainty that the problem has been solved are the combustible items in the baking. You'll love the outcome! Indeed, this recipe gives you all the flavors of the complete disaster: there is crying, yelling, recrimination, guilt, despair and denial--from both sides! There is a back and forth about who has failed whom and Procrastination.

The final flavors come with The World Series as distraction and background noise AND the addition of a Fever. Let the rule-bound anxious mother discover at 8 pm--just as she is conveniently about to drive to another state to retrieve her daughter--that she has a fever of 101.9.

Now, your disaster is complete. The unhappy 12-year old has been rude enough that he's lost television privileges for two days AND the 'privilege' of his mother's assistance. The Literature Review is not finished. The mother not only feels complete frustration but is flaming from fever.

If you leave the disaster as is --that is, by driving away--by the time you come home you will find that the brittle bones holding the entire thing together have dissolved into something sweeter, something not only palatable, but nearly pleasant.

Left alone, without that 'privilege' of the rule-bound anxious mother's help, why, that 12-year old boy will quietly pick up the Literature Review and perservere. He will eventually find, on his own, age-appropriate and interesting sources commenting on the use of 'shock' over the course of history. He will be proud of himself and present the work to you for Admiration and Awe.

When the very last crumbs have been eaten and the emotional cutlery is set aside, store this disaster with all the others in the file labeled: First Child, Learning Curve.


Anonymous said...

Ah, parenting. The thing that makes us all humble.

Cheri @ Blog This Mom!® said...

The Matron almost lost her at log b, but Blog This Mom! persevered to the end.

My two older children who sigh loudly (for extra flavor) and say, "Mom. Whose project is this?"

Laura is child number three, and her projects? Look like she did them herself. Because? She did them herself. And when I get a little pang looking at some of the other kid's projects that look as though a graphic design team put them together? I sigh inside of my head and know that I will not be enabling my child into rehab someday. She will be strong. She will be self-sufficient. She will be capable. She will be resourceful. God, I hope.

Anonymous said...

My parenting has been so hands off, low's backfired as the girls rebel against homework, by not doing it!!!
Perhaps the Matron could do a high pressure summer school for wayward English girls?

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Aaah, Matron why don't you ask me first?

My grade limit for involvement in my children's schoolwork in any way, shape or form (other than asked for proofreading or driving to libraries) is 3rd grade.

So far two kids have gotten into colleges with no assistance from mom and day other than credit card numbers.

Non-helicopter parenting. It works.

Anonymous said...

Oh honey. Been there. And completely screwed up. You were smart enough (or sick enough) to walk away. ;-)

Jocelyn said...

...thus assuring no scenario like this will EVER play out with Scarlett or Merrick, eh?

I love a post where EBSCO is the devil.

Zenmomma said...

Oh I remember the days. The first one is definitely the practice model.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear. Blessing because that's a rough sounding day!

JCK said...

I am envious of your ability to whip this post out with a fever. Very. Envious. However, quite delighted to be an eager reader here.

Hope you are feeling better.