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It may be science, but it’s not fair … to the parents

By Celia Rivenbark

When the Princess graduated from middle school, we were overjoyed for only one reason: No more science fairs! Year after thankless year of elementary and middle school my husband worked so hard on those exhibits and the best he ever got was a win at the local level followed by a loss at district that sent him sobbing into his Corona back in the days when limes didn’t cost 10 bucks apiece.

Kidding! Of course the Princess did all the work. OK, most of the work. These things come with the understanding that there will probably be a bit of logistical help from parents because they’re the only ones who can drive to Office Max and buy the tri-fold board and printer ink.

Having grown up in a rural school before there were science fairs, I can barely describe my disappointment at finding out that there was nothing “fairlike” at all at the regional science fair. No two-headed goats. No bearded lady. Not even a roasted turkey leg to gnaw on for hours of salmonella-tinged fun.

But here we were again – the Princess a high school junior – preparing to attend one of these academic fairs last weekend. The National History Day “fair” was in the state capital and required a two-hour drive leaving in the dark. Every time I go to Raleigh, I am reminded of Barney Fife who spoke of the capital city in terms most people would use for Paris or Rome. Elusive, mysterious, romantic.

Raleigh is the big time. So we “smartened up” and piled into our old Expedition with the Princess and her friends who were presenting a documentary. A really good documentary that took a lot of work and should have won, by the way.

I know what you’re thinking: How tacky to use a column to talk about her kid getting robbed at a school competition. … What kind of lesson does “sour grapes” teach a kid? … Why am I suddenly craving turkey legs right now? …

OK, here’s a tiny suggestion to anyone expecting literally hundreds of sleepy-eyed parents toting tri-fold boards across hundreds of miles to an early morning competition. SOMEBODY HAVE SOME STARBUCKS UP IN HERE.

We looked in vain. No coffee kiosk, no doughnuts or bagels or juice anywhere. All of the parents seemed to realize this at the exact same time. A dad who had driven four hours collapsed into tears. There was no food anywhere. At this rate the cute sophomore girl who was presenting on the Donner Party was in danger of adding a real life experience.

Congratulations winners! See you next year. I’ll be the one outside on the mall with my Keurig and assorted Costco pastries for sale. Now who’s the smart one?

rivenbark.com

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