How to Survive School Assemblies (and Other Boring Stuff)

Welcome to Scarlet Thread Sunday, the day I pull out a thread of something I’ve learned in the labyrinth of life.

Calvin & Hobbes cartoon:

A few weeks ago, I posted on Facebook that my son had taken a four-hour writing test at school. (We live in Texas, which is currently big on measuring student success through testing.) After finishing early, he had to simply sit in his desk with nothing to do. So he counted from 1 to 1,500. Zzzzz…..

So what do you do when you’re bored out of your skull after an exam? Or how about a school assembly?

I used to hate those. My memory of them goes something like this:

  1. Several minutes to get people to shut up
  2. Introduction of topic
  3. Blah, blah, blah
  4. Blah, blah, blah
  5. Blah, blah
  6. Important thing
  7. Blah, blah, blah, blah
  8. Dismissed

The trick was to clue in to that #6 Important Thing and find a way to keep your brain from dying a slow, tortured death during the rest of it.

So being the good mother that I am–or maybe the slacker mom that I am, po-tay-to, po-tah-to–I feel it necessary to equip my children to survive the rigors of stupid school assemblies. Thus, the first student-parent assembly I had to attend with my teenager in high school went like this:

  1. Several minutes to get people to shut up
  2. Introduction of topic
  3. Blah, blah, blah
  4. Take out piece of paper and start drawing
  5. Ask son to help me draw a gun because I can’t get the shape right
  6. Important thing–got it
  7. Son finishes gun and passes paper back
  8. I write, “What I want to do to myself during school assemblies” and complete the picture with a stick figure of me getting hit in the brain by a bullet
  9. Son chuckles (quietly, of course) and passes paper to friend next to him
  10. Friend chuckles (quietly, of course) and passes paper back
  11. Dismissed

Ah, so much better.

The next one was a band parent-student meeting that was supposed to last one hour, but took one and a half hours. Heaven help me. So I found an index card in my purse and wrote this:

List of things more fun than school assemblies

I completed #1, left #2 blank, and passed the card and pen to my son. Thereafter, we traded ideas, with odd-numbered items being mine, and even-numbered items his. Here is our list of Things that are more fun than school assemblies:

  1. Watching grass grow
  2. Having my phone. After which I added a note: It’s supposed to be something not very fun. He caught on quickly.
  3. Picking my nose
  4. Staring at a wall
  5. Reading Leviticus in one sitting. Note: Old Testament book of religious rules.
  6. Watching snails race
  7. Counting my freckles
  8. Sleeping
  9. Cleaning toilets
  10. Reading a King novel in one sitting
  11. Tying, untying, and retying my shoelaces
  12. Watching trees grow
  13. Watching paint dry
  14. Eating worms
  15. Getting a shot
  16. Watching a clock tick…for an hour
  17. Listing things that are more fun than assemblies
  18. Sleeping during assemblies
  19. Counting how many times you blink in an hour
  20. Watching your hair grow
  21. Cleaning out ear wax

And then said assembly was over. Worry not, fair friends! I did catch the important stuff. Moreover, there was a handout with all the necessary information in it, so if we missed anything, I had the reference sheet.

Kids and teens are hardly the only ones subjected to boredom in meetings. In fact, my practical instruction will help my children face the future. Most adults have sat through a meeting that should have taken ten minutes and dragged on for an hour or more. At some point, you start fiddling with your clothing, doodling on your legal pad, or exercising your vivid imagination–by planning your entire wedding in your head, revisiting the latest episode of Dancing with the Stars and who you hope gets voted off, plotting how you’d kill your boss and get away with it if you were that kind of person (which you’re not), redesigning your wardrobe, etc.

Whatever you do, I can boil the survival techniques down to two simple tips:

  • Keep your outside appearance steady.
  • Engage in your mind actively.

That’s it. Bored to death? The school assembly or meeting isn’t enough to keep your brain on life support, much less activated. But keep your mind alive and you’ll survive. Dream, imagine, doodle, plan–do something, anything–just keep it to yourself.

Otherwise, you might find yourself becoming fidgety, distracting, and even visibly annoyed. Bad plan. Because your Important Thing may not be someone else’s Important Thing, and you don’t want your momentary boredom to keep them from getting what they need.

And now for more brain activation. Let’s talk about my writing goals update.

ROW80 Update



  • Finish writing GOOD & GUILTY, YA mystery. 
  • Complete first round of edits of GOOD & GUILTY. Letting the MS sit for a bit first.
  • Write one short story.
  • Edit two short stories–one needs a final polish, the other a full edit.

Additional Goals

  • Exercise twice a week. Lots of walking this week, so I’m going to say yes.
  • Prepare for and attend DFW Conference in May.
  • Prepare for and attend Immersion Master Class with Margie Lawson in June.

So how do/did you survive boring assemblies or meetings? What are your tips? And tell me about your not-boring week!

16 thoughts on “How to Survive School Assemblies (and Other Boring Stuff)

  1. LOL You’re such a cool mom. Happy Mother’s Day!!!

    Those are great tips. I’m afraid I’ll miss the important stuff if I do too much “active” thinking/dreaming. So I draw flowers. Typically daisies. Over and over. Row after Row. Boring I know. But it keeps me active and it’s repetitive which also helps to focus my mind so I’m actually listening to what is said. Usually. Why flowers? It’s the only thing I can draw and still tell what it is. 😉

    1. I will definitely pass on to my kids that I’m “such a cool mom.” I’m sure they’ll believe you. LOL.

      I envy doodlers. I think that’s a great way to pass the time.

  2. You are freaking brilliant! I always have a notebook for my little one to doodle pictures during assemblies, but creating a list and sharing is genius. My husband is going to get a kick out of that, too. The key is not laughing out loud at each other’s list items. How did you do that?

    I have to tell on my daughter, who has been up to her neck in those Texas tests, too. (She’s not here to catch me mention her.) For her reading pleasure after most of her tests, she reads T. H. White’s ONCE AND FUTURE KING. 🙂

    Happy Mother’s Day, Julie!

  3. I agree. You’re a super cool mom.
    Blah, blah, blah <– I know those kinds of meetings. In fact, I have one tomorrow night. Ugh, lol.
    I hope you're getting back to normal computer wise. On a happier note, I'm thinking you should start a count down to Margie class. 🙂 Hope you have a great week, Julie. Happy Mother's Day!!

  4. You’re doing great on your reading goals! And letting your MS sit for a while before revising it sounds like a good idea. Hope your computer problems have been solved. Have a great week, and happy reading/revising! 🙂

  5. LOL your list is great! I used to think about lyrics from Rush songs. (My husband thinks about lyrics to Ozzy songs.) But now I’d plot, but then I’d miss the “important stuff.” So I sometimes play games on my phone. Yes, it’s disrespectful, but they’re being disrespectful of me, expecting me to sit through two hours of “blah blah blah” when I only need five minutes of it.

    1. “And the men who hold high places must be the ones who start…” I might could do that too, Jennette! 😉

      I did plot a novel during one of my husband’s work events, where I was the supportive spouse who had no interest in the industry-based speech. Good plan!

  6. Kid and I played hangman the last time we were stuck at an assembly, I’ll have use the list thing next time 🙂 But that gun thing…pure gold. That definitely puts you in cool territory!

    Fabulous work on the goals and hope the computer pains are over. Hope you have a great week Julie.

  7. Recently I had to wait for 90 min during a medical test (not painful, just boring), and I wasn’t allowed to bring a book or use my phone. I mostly stared at the ceiling and tried NOT to think about my current WIP, because then I’d need pen, paper, my phone, etc. It was kinda like meditating, kind of. 🙂 Still, I’m thinking it was better than a school assembly!
    And thanks for the book shout-out, Julie!

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