by Julia Buckley
My son spent the last month learning about George Washington. He was assigned this famous man, the father of our country, for a class biography project; Graham was to take on the persona of Washington and tell the class about "his" life.
He began by reading a biography of the first president. Then we talked about it, and Graham gave me bits of information which I meticulously copied onto thirteen notecards so that he wouldn't forget anything he wanted to say. After that he was home free, and it was just a matter of waiting until Wednesday, which was speech day.
On Wednesday morning we gathered Graham's wig, collar and suit coat. We packed his lunch and grabbed his backpack; he had school in half an hour, and I was a bit late for work. I said, "Have you got your cards?"
He shrugged. "They're on the table."
Except they weren't. Not on the table, the sideboard, the dresser or desk. Not by the computer or the television, or the drawers we checked in desperation. They had utterly, completely disappeared, and the clock was ticking. Graham started to turn pale. My husband was ranting and raving. And I realized there was only one thing I could do: I started making new cards, flipping quickly through the Washington biography that we had combed so painstakingly:
Farm boy, loved to hunt and fish. Wanted to be in the army. Got a job as a surveyor, during which time he learned much about the land and met many Native Americans. Fought in the French and Indian War. Was eventually elected to represent America in their bid for Independence. Led the American army against the Redcoats; failed in many battles, but eventually decided to use the land against the British, who were used only to their regimented marching and knew nothing of the forests and fields of New England. When Cornwallis eventually surrendered, Washington's men wanted to make him king; instead he was elected the first president of the United States.
This time when I wrote it, there were seventeen notecards. Graham wasn't late for school, and he even remembered to take out a dollar bill at the end of his speech and show his classmates his portrait.
Mother, however, was late for work, and found that "I lost my George Washington cards" was not a very sympathetic excuse.
Meanwhile the mystery of the lost cards was never solved--we still have not found them one week later, and not one of us recalls moving them from the table where they waited for Graham's speech day.
Is there anything more frustrating than a lost object? For the obsessive mind, it's a recipe for insanity. Hopefully, though, in the grand scheme of things, I've earned some mother points for coming through in a time of stress.
In any case, Happy President's Day to all. :)