i once went on a blind date with a guy to see the movie 'cool runnings.' that's as close to jamaica as i want to get after this weekend.
Oh, dear Internet friends, how I've missed you! Did you enjoy a wonderful long holiday weekend with your family and friends (not necessarily in that order)? I hope so, because that wave of calm you're hopefully still riding may temper the jealousy sure to bubble up inside you when I tell you how I spent my long weekend!
I enjoyed a fantastic time in Jamaica! Why, my whole family enjoyed our unexpected little diversion so much that, as the sun set on Monday, signaling what could have been a return to real life, we decided to throw our cares into the ocean and tacked on a couple more fun-filled days in paradise because, knowing my luck, it will be five or six more years before we get to return or, fingers crossed, travel to some other grand destination of one of my children's choosing.
That's right. My oldest son decided we should holiday in the tropics. Ah, to holiday! How I love using that word as a verb! It makes the whole experience seem so carefree and light. Why, you can almost picture me drunk on the first rum drink handed to me, and succumbing to the customary cornrows and beaded headdress, can you not? I can. It's because I can that I feel I should warn you that it's better if you can't.
Also, stop thinking about me in a swimsuit. Seriously. It's for your own good. And just ignore those empty Hershey Bliss wrappers next to my leg. Do I know you?
Too damn bad this particular Jamaican getaway came all frustrations paid by the above mentioned kid, who informed us late last Friday night we'd be going to (or rather 'Googling') Jamaica because he'd failed to realize the scope of a huge project his social studies teacher had assigned two weeks prior. Did I make it seem like this was a fun trip? Then I am some kind of amazing word genius, because, believe me, it wasn't a fun weekend here. Did I also say my son failed to realize the magnitude of the project? OK, I was wrong. He didn't fail to realize that until after I'd informed him the paltry scraps of information he'd gleaned during two week's of class research fell nowhere near meeting the requirements specified in the SEVEN PAGE assignment sheet.
Research a hero native to your chosen country and write a biography of them! Include at least two photos!
Prepare a database of the animals and insects that inhabit your chosen country! What do they eat? What are their prey? Are they endangered? What more can I ask here that will eventually make your mother weep in frustration? Make it colorful!
Do you know how to make a graph? GOOD! Compare the average annual temperature in your chosen country and in Iowa. Now graph them, showing all variables. When you're done, write a paragraph explaining how the climate impacts your country's culture, workforce, and inhabitants.
On and on and on the outline went. Each required category included five to seven bullet points that also had to be researched and incorporated. When I got my hands on it, I got the shakes. Reading over each point and trying to make sense of them was like holding a teleportation device that whooshed me back to college and the time when I ACTUALLY DID SLEEP THROUGH A FINAL EXAM!!
(sidebar - My kids' last day of school is this Friday. Typically at this point in the school year, I'm moaning about how they aren't doing anything in the waning hours in regard to actual learning, but last weekend, I confess I was bitching at the audacity of assigning such a huge project with only four days of school left - three, really, considering it was to be turned in today - and going on about how there's no way the social studies teacher is going to thoroughly look at every thing on these display boards, so, OK, honey, if you actually want to state that Jamaica's leading export is, in fact, marijuana, you just put that nonsense down!)
(addendum - I love teachers. Honestly. I support them, volunteer for them, and donate to their classrooms when I can...but gah!!)
(finally - While Jamaica does, in fact, enjoy a thriving drug culture, the country is actually the world's leader in the production of pepper, so put that in your bong and smoke it, instead. Or maybe just season your eggs with it. I mean, that's probably the safest use of eggs when you consider that whole 'this is your brain on drugs' business, right?)
I had NO desire to go to Jamaica. My plans for the weekend involved being outside, enjoying the fantastic weather, riding bikes, shooting baskets in the driveway with my kids, maybe grilling a hot dog or two. They didn't involve repeating "Really?! REALLY?! Because I've already gone through school! I don't HAVE to attend your seventh grade social studies class, so no, no, I didn't JUST INSTINCTIVELY know you'd need a tri-fold display board!" to my kid after clocking six of the more than 10 hours we spent on this project on Saturday alone. After spending more than 20+ hours total helping my kid, I've still have very little desire to actually go to Jamaica, a fact that has nothing to do with the State Department's recommendation that tourists steer clear of Kingston due to some island fun involving a drug lord, his minions and the words 'lots of bloodshed.' Bloodshed that's apparently been mentioned on the actual news since early last week, but that I knew nothing about prior to this project, of course, because, well, I didn't get to watch any actual news over the last five days. Thank you, Google!
You might want to ask me why didn't I just let my kid suffer the consequences of not completing his project thoroughly and as assigned. No need. I asked myself the same thing a lot. Especially when I woke up around 3:30 a.m., Sunday, thinking about all the stuff that still needed to be finished in order to to cross them off the outline. I guess my answer is the same one I have when I wonder why I have to tell him every day to put his dirty laundry in his hamper or to brush his teeth, and that's that one day, I hope the light bulb goes off over his head and he finally understands he has to listen, learn, and follow through. I almost thought he was grasping that whole idea until early Monday morning when, as I was stressing out over whether he'd decided to profile the sport of cricket or track ("Include a biography of an athlete from your chosen country who has excelled at the sport, detail the rules, and include photos!"), he looked at me over the top of my laptop and actually said, "Chill out, Mom!"
Though he may actually have told me to "Chill out, mon." By then, I was trying to talk Tool Man out of his idea that I craft some sort of dreadlock-adorned Rastafarian hat for our son to wear today when he presents his board. That's also when I started saying things like "Jamaican me crazy!" and "Don't Jamaica me come over there and smack you!" I had to say things like that so I wouldn't cry anymore, which I may have been doing during breaks from performing the Beach Boys' song Kokomo for the one millionth time, because, oh, yes, I was edging dangerously close to meeting that goal by Monday night.
(And now you'll pick up that torch! "Aruba, Jamaica, oh, I wanna take you..." Brain worm! Look! Uncle Jesse on the steel drums!)
When we finally putting the finishing touches on the project Monday night, I did get to go sit on my deck and enjoy the last of the weekend's sun. While watching it set, I tried unsuccessfully to convince Tool Man to be "That Other Guy" to my Tom Cruise while we acted out a scene from Cocktail and dreamed about opening a cute little Jamaican beachfront bar like our cinematic heroes. Maybe that will be our reward for getting an A on our project.
I mean our kid getting an A on his project. Yeah