Have you ever been so desperate for someone to play with you that you were willing to do practically anything? I remember once when I was little (maybe seven years old??) my parents tried to make me eat liver. It started out as a big slab of liver, at least it seemed like a big slab to me, in reality it was probably no bigger than a deck of playing cards. But it didn’t matter what size it was, it was not going in my mouth. The funny part is, I didn’t even know what liver was – I just knew it must be disgusting by the way my parents were so insistent that I eat it and wouldn’t be getting up from the table until I did. And unfortunately for them, I am stubborn. At age seven, I had the stubbornness to wear down the patience of Mother Theresa. So I sat at the table during the meal, then while everyone else cleared the table (except for my plate of liver, of course), and while they went about their days without me. I was prepared to sit there until the second coming of Jesus, if need be.
My mother must have known what I was thinking, because eventually she cut the liver into pieces and fed them all to the dog except for four pieces. And she insisted that I eat those last four little pieces. God bless her for trying, but there was still no way I was eating that liver. Hours passed and I was still sitting there at the kitchen table, not eating the liver. My parents were wearing down. They had a little conference and came to me with the decision: they would give the dog three pieces of liver, I would eat the remaining piece. To them, it was a great solution. To me, it was never going to happen.
Since the rest of the family left the table, my younger brother who was probably four at the time, was in the living room waiting for me to play. He kept peeking around the corner, telling me to just eat the liver so we could play. Finally when no one was around, he ran into the kitchen, came over to my plate, and without saying anything, he ate my piece of liver. I was free and there was nothing my parents could do because the dog had eaten all the rest! My brother had turned from bratty little brother to coolest kid on the planet in ten seconds!
So this weekend, I wanted Bryan to hang out with me and watch TV or a movie. But he couldn’t because he had forty-five reports to grade. They were reports by seventh graders and they were on the differences and similarities of plant and animal cells. Blah blah blah. I could see the night ticking away while he read the reports with the speed of a sloth on benedryl. When I couldn’t stand it anymore, I took some of the reports and started reading them myself. I am, after all, certified to teach kindergarten through eighth grade. I didn’t technically grade anything but I read each report and handed it to Bryan with a synopsis of which parts had been included or left out. My purpose was to speed things up a little so that we could watch some TV.
Unfortunately for those seventh graders, I actually read their reports. I doubt they were counting on anyone actually reading something as dry as Plant Cells vs. Animal Cells. But I did. And after reading a handful, several of them started sounding familiar. In fact, a little too familiar. I thumbed back through the pile and found two that matched pretty much exactly. I pointed it out to Bryan. He groaned, as this isn’t a fun thing to deal with for a teacher. I left him with those matching papers and kept reading. My plan was backfiring in a big way. The more I read, the more I realized I was reading a lot of the exact same thing over and over again. In the end, there were 13 papers that were the exact same, except for the names at the top. This didn’t lead to Bryan and I relaxing and watching TV as I had planned. It led to Bryan in despair at the kitchen table until late that night, trying to figure out what to do with them all on Monday. We did figure out that they had all used the same website and just “copied and pasted” from the website to their reports. Ugh.
So much for my plan to help and get things done faster so Bryan could play. I should have learned from my little brother all those years ago. I shouldn’t have read those dumb reports – I should have EATEN them.