Maj calls from the other room, “Mother! You left too soon! I am still in need of assistance!”
“What? I thought you finished your homework.”
“There is stapling to be done, and the stapler is causing trouble.”
“Maj, I am not going to come in there and demonstrate how the stapler works. Figure it out.”
“Mother, one of these days my husband is going to ask me . . . Maj, why don’t you know how to use a stapler? . . . and I am going to have to tell him of your laziness.”
“I am not at all sure that stapling is going to be the biggest issue in your future marriage, Maj.”
“What did you say, Mother?”
There is silence for a minute, and then Maj yells, “I got it! I figured it out!”
“Your marriage is saved!”
“Whatever, Mother. OK, so I just need to staple this paper, and then I am all set.”
Ka-chunk, ka-chunk, ka-chunk, ka-chunk.
And then I hear, “Uh oh.”
“What do you mean . . . Uh oh?”
“I am sure I can fix this without your assistance, Mother. I just didn’t all the way think this through. Remember the rowing thing? Like that, only with staples. No big deal. Go about your business, Mother. No need to be concerned.”
The rowing thing . . .
A couple of years ago, during our home-schooling life, I signed the girls up for this awesome boating class. It was a five-day class. Each morning, they would participate in a lecture/science-lab on all things lake and boatish. And then every afternoon, the kids either did nature hikes or got to go out on the adjoining lake in boats.
On one of these days, they got to go out in a dragon boat.
A dragon boat is like a huge fancy row boat, in case you didn’t know.
The instructor had all the kids line up on the dock in two long rows. He told them to imagine that they were in the long boat, and that they needed to learn to work together to row as a team. If they didn’t work together, the boat wouldn’t move across the lake.
The kids all nodded seriously.
He handed them each a large wooden oar.
Yelled out instructions.
And then all the kids started rowing together in the air.
In their invisible boat.
An issue was immediately apparent.
The instructor yelled for everyone to bring their paddles to a resting position.
The instructor stood at the bow of the invisible boat formed by the two rows of earnest children and their oars. He stared down the middle of the boat at the problem, “So we can see there is a problem, yes?”
The children all agreed there was a problem.
The instructor smiled, “OK, now that we are all on the same page? Let’s try again.”
The kids all started rowing together in the air.
In their invisible boat.
The same obvious issue was immediately apparent.
The instructor yelled for everyone to bring their oars to a resting position.
The instructor walked over and stood next to Maj, “So I wonder if you might tell me what I am going to point out to you, young lady?”
Maj was stumped and shrugged her shoulders helplessly.
He knelt beside her and gestured with his hands, “So if all of you guys are pretending to row a boat and you all need to work together . . . imagine the boat. Do you see it?”
“Do you see the problem?”
Maj stared at the outlines of the invisible boat for a few seconds, stared at all the other kids and their oars, “Oh!”
The instructor laughed kindly, “OK, so what’s the problem?”
Maj giggled and shifted her oar to the other side of her body, “I am rowing inside the boat instead of in the water.”
In the present day, I walk into the dining room to see Maj staring sadly at her homework.
“So what’s up, babe? It looks nice and stapled . . . all four corners.”
Maj looks up at me worriedly, “Yes, it looks just fine until you try to pick it up.”
Sigh, “So you mean you . . .”
“Stapled it to the table, yes.”
I get a pair of small pliers and carefully pull the four staples out of our lovely wooden table.
Maj is apologetic, “I don’t always see what is going to happen next, Mother.”
I kiss her on the head, “No big deal, babe. But when your future husband gets all cranky about how you are bonking the bottom of the boat with your oar and how water is coming in through the staple holes?”
Maj giggles, “I know, I know. Tell him I came this way.”