Friday, April 3, 2009

Venus...Goddess of Love That You Are

Yesterday, I discovered I’m not even smarter than a second grader. The school my kids go to is excellent. The teachers, some of the most caring professionals I have ever had the privilege to meet, immerse themselves in educating their students. What’s more, they are as demanding of us as parents as they are of the children. I like that. I believe it results in just the right emphasis on and investment in education. And they come up with some creative ways to teach.

My daughter has been studying our solar system. She had to read a book about Venus, but her book report was not of the written kind. She had to make a model of her planet and note cards with facts she learned from her reading.

Teachers aren’t the only relentless professionals. My wife is one, too. Consequently, I often get to be “Project Dad.” I remember when I was in elementary school, we blew up a balloon, encased it in papier-mâché, let it dry, and then painted it blue and white to create “Earth.” I learned early on that crafts weren’t really my thing. Suffice it to say had I been the creator of the universe, we would not have to worry about global warming because there would be no globe to begin with. So why, 40 years later, should Venus be any different?

None of that nasty, wet plaster of Paris crap for me. No… Hobby Lobby sells floral forms and Styrofoam balls in various sizes, one of which would make for a very nice Venus. A little matte gold colored spray paint (because, according to the book, Venus is tan or perhaps a nice taupe—see I told you I watch Bravo TV!), and we should be rockin’ and rollin’, right?

So who knew spray paint freakin’ dissolves Styrofoam?

Did God know this when he created the real deal? Is that why it took Him seven days? Because SIX hours later Venus still wasn’t dry and it was crumbling in places?

Note to self: spray paint, Styrofoam—bad

“Project Dad” has learned a few other things along the way:

1) When CVS is out of poster board, Staples has it and in the color you need, but the single sheets will be out and you’ll have to buy the 12 pack with no conceivable use for the 11 other pieces in your lifetime, until of course you tire of them curling up next to the piano and you throw them out. THEN, you’ll need a purple poster.

2) Poster board and foam core are NOT the same thing!

3) It is indeed foam core and not foam cord, and if you ask the pimply-faced kid at Staples for the latter, you will receive the most condescending zit face stare down of your meager existence.

4) The term “washable markers” doesn’t necessarily mean the color disappears from your heirloom lace dining room tablecloth, “WHICH WAS A PRESENT FROM MY GRANDMOTHER!” It means the stray marks get wet in the washer and baked on in the dryer. (Does yelling something make it more factual? Perhaps that’s another blog).

5) “What’s wrong with regular paper and thumbtacks?” is not the proper response to the teacher’s requirement that the science project be presented on the three-panel presentation board available at your local office supply store.

Venus made it to school this morning, though with a few more paint-induced craters than the real thing. Mercury wasn’t so lucky. I saw it skittering across the parking lot as the kid who made it tripped on the sidewalk. The planet now has a flat side. Perhaps now we stand a chance at a decent grade!


  1. okay, i'm coughing from laughing so hard!

    i wonder, is something like this the reason pluto is no longer a planet...(it is pluto, isn't it?)


  2. Oh, Sam, I can SO commiserate with you! I can recall the days of posterboard and felt tipped pens, home-made volcanos and green beans grown on the bathroom windowsill, experiments on water drawn from the local river -- all those wonderful science projects. The worst was typing my oldest son's science project paper when he was a senior in high school. (He typed at 3 words/minute, which meant if he ever wanted to get done, good old mom had to come to the rescue.) The title was something like "Computation of Sidereal Periods" and I understood not one word of what he'd written. Didn't matter, though. That astronomy project and paper earned him a full four-year college scholarship, something for which I'll be ever grateful. So look on the bright side. That spray-painted Venus may be the start of great things for your daughter -- and your college fund! :)

  3. At least she didn't choose Uranus!

  4. Sorry, Sam, but I'm so glad to see that someone else is as craft-challenged as I am!

    Lots of luck when your daughter comes home with the assignment to re-create the entire solar system! (at least you'll have extra poster board)


  5. You'll have to tell us what the final score was...Venus 8 Mercury 5?

    We can hope.