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

Reading

Writing/Editing

  • 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!

I Think I’m a Funny Mom and #ROW80

When you think about becoming a parent, one of the things you don’t realize is just how much of your time is going to be pilfered away in driving your kids around. But even more frustrating is the waiting. In my 15 years of parenting, I have spent more hours in car lines dropping my kids off or picking them up from school, extra-curricular activities, and other events than J.R.R. Tolkien spent penning The Lord of the Rings.

To cope, I’ve developed a sense of humor about it. I may not be the best mom out there (I ain’t even close), but I have modeled to my kids how to get through difficulties by cracking jokes. Thus, the last time I was in the car-line-from-purgatory to pick up my high school son, and he was waiting on the school porch for my eventual arrival, I start texting him messages–one right after the other.

That last message was an unflattering photo of me with the words “yep. bored.”*

My son shared my quirky texts with a few other kids waiting for their parents. By the time I picked him up, I had entertained not only myself, but my 14 year old and a few of his friends. Perhaps I qualify as a “cool mom” now. Probably not, but hey, I’m a least a funny mom.

Now on to my serious side–a progress report of my ROW80 goals:

  • Finish reading Revision & Self-Editing by James Scott Bell. Done.
  • Cheer on the ROW80 participants. Done.
  • Edit at least 50 pages of SHARING HUNTER, my young adult contemporary novel. I’ll consider this done because I’m working through Margie Lawson’s EDITS program. This goal probably needs to be folded into that one below.
  • Exercise at least twice each week. My Zumba classes are on hiatus until next week. (I am eager.)
  • Submit a query for SHARING HUNTER. On hold until I complete more edits.
  • Work through at least two lessons of Margie Lawson’s Deep EDITS with YA novel. Got started, but didn’t get through two–more like one-half–but I did tag dialogue for the whole novel.
  • Read at least 50 pages of The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler. Done and more. Read 100+ pages.

After a few weeks of not getting much done, I’m feeling good about this past week. I am building momentum that should take hold when the kids head back to school.

How about you? How did your week go? Do you have any funny parent stories to share? What do you do to entertain yourself or your kids when you’re bored?

Find my fearless, fabulous ROW80 friends HERE. Cheer them on if they’ve done well, or go for comic relief if they are feeling that purgatory pull.

*Sorry the screen shot is terrible. I spent way too long trying to figure out how to capture my screen on my Android phone and finally gave in to snapping a camera pic.