Thursday, November 3, 2011

All They Wrote, Plus Bibliography

Jupiter is the largest planet, Mercury is closest to the sun. Jupiter has a big red spot, Mercury is the fastest moving in the solar system. Two children, two research projects, two planets no longer lost to me in the world of knowledge known as outer space. Second grade snuck up on me, I thought we had few years before I would have to turn to the World Book and Google to answer questions. "Mom, what's seven times four?", I know that. " do you spell calendar?", done, right from the top of my head. But temperature range and atmospheric conditions on Mercury? Not found in the storage space above my shoulders.

It was Mrs. Jean Hardy, in sixth grade, who assigned to me the most difficult and complex paper I ever completed in all my years of schooling: a research paper, with bibliography and presentation, on Gothic architecture. Hours of fact finding, days spent huddled over the encyclopedia at my grandparent's house, library time that included actual studying, thousands of one sentence facts scribbled onto lined sheets of notebook paper, all to be cut into strips and reassembled into a coherent and well thought out paper. "Don't forget the endnotes" said Mrs. Jean Hardy, who thought that perhaps, in sixth grade, we all had some idea what an endnote might be. It was a horrible and grueling process, one that scarred me and left me determined to never again surrender to the painful and sleep robbing task of writing a research paper. That was sixth grade, this is now.

Granted, assisting in the completion of two reports for a second grade class was a bit less taxing than being the primary writer of seven pages of flying buttresses and finials, but none less stressful. As I sit here tonight, surrounded by completed papers, bibliographies and visual aides, I know with confidence that I will be startled awake around 3:00 am, the victim of the dreaded "I Slept Through A Semester Final Exam" dream.

Thank you to Mary, Kate, their second grade teacher and of course, Mrs. Jean Hardy for tonight's restless slumber. Yawn.

Genuine thanks to Mrs. Hardy who taught me to diagram sentences, prepare and present an informative speech, and work very hard for an A. She was one of the best teachers I have ever had and I am still grateful for her critical eye, high standards and willingness to reward good work.

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