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Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Since I can remember, I have always been a procrastinator and have never been much of a planner. As a student, even as far back as elementary, I didn’t prepare for tests until the night before, and I didn’t start working on projects or presentations until the very last minute. But I always got excellent grades, which is probably why my parents never really pushed me to study harder.

At home, I put things off. The laundry, for example. I know it needs to be done, and I understand that if I did just one load a night I would feel so relieved when the weekend came around. But, no. I put it off because I hate doing it, and then I’m in a panic on Sunday evenings, washing/drying/folding like a madwoman! But it gets done. We’ve never had to go to work or school without clean underwear.

When I’m at work, I need deadlines. Whether they are given to me or I make my own. I always stick to my deadlines, but I complete the task at the last minute. When there are things to be done with no set deadline, I put them off. I tell myself that I will get to it later. Or maybe tomorrow. I crave the urgency. Luckily this job consists of frequent urgent requests that I must respond to immediately. I know my stuff. I whip up a spreadsheet with an explanation and everyone is happy. They rely on me. It’s an adrenalin rush.

Hubby is nothing like me. He writes lists, he plans ahead, he keeps a day planner and follows a schedule. It kills him to leave things to the last minute. He is not a go-with-the-flow type person (like me), he needs to have a plan. In the mornings he is up, showered, dressed and has time to check his email before he heads out the door for work and arrives ahead of schedule. I am always rushing out the door in a panic, no matter what time I get up, and get to work at the last second minute.

All of this brings me to my next subject: Our son, J. J is twelve. He is not concerned about his future, his grades, his health, or even his hygiene. Well, he wants all of those things to be good, but he somehow expects that they will turn out that way without any effort on his part. We constantly encourage him, and he is starting to improve (especially with the hygiene. It's a good thing because he has hit puberty), but he still has a way to go. His is a very bright boy, and in sports he has incredible talent. But in school or at baseball, he is usually satisfied with being good, rather than taking a step further to really shine. He rarely brings homework home, even though we are constantly on his case, and we don’t find out about tests until after the fact. Luckily he still manages to pull out great marks, but I’m seeing a trend. He doesn’t work hard and he leaves things until the last minute. I am not a good role model when it comes to the last-minute thing.

An example is a recent school project that was assigned to J's class. A notice was sent home months ago that there would be an international fair at school. The students had to choose a country and prepare a report, a presentation and also a type of food from that country for students and guests to sample. The fair is this Thursday. As of last Thursday, nothing was even started. We had months! I think it’s been three months that we knew about it. He didn’t bring it up and we didn’t push him. I don’t even know how this happened. But now, we’re all in it together.

J chose Cuba for his country so on Friday, I printed off pictures from the internet and Hubby bought Bristol board and other supplies. Over the weekend, we got J to sit down to start a draft report and we scoured the internet looking for an easy Cuban recipe. On Monday and Tuesday evening, J researched and wrote some more, and I cut out the color photos and started to organize them on the Bristol board. I worked for over three hours last night, just cutting and pasting and organizing. But I we finished the display and it looks great. Hubby is going to start editing and typing J's report today (it’s in French so I am no help), and we’ve decided on fried plantains for the food portion. It’s simple to make and easy to bring to school for sampling. I know we shouldn’t be putting so much effort into this project – it is our son’s responsibility. But we let it go so long that he needs help. A lot of help, if he wants to pass. And he does. He knew we would help him (I know, I know - that's the problem).

My biggest issue with all of this is that J signed up for this project with two other boys in his class. It was supposed to be a group project. He told us that neither of the other kids have done anything on it. I suggested that maybe one of them could provide the food. He doesn’t want to rely on them to do it, and I don’t blame him. So J will have the whole project completed on time – the report, display and food – and his friends will also take credit for it. At this point, I feel it’s too late to tell their parents about it (assuming they don’t know), and I would also feel really bad if they got a zero on the project (even though it’s what they deserve), because it’s worth a lot of marks. I am torn.

Are you a procrastinator? Do you follow a set schedule or fly by the seat of your pants? What do you think about assisting children with their school projects? Do you think we should let J’s friends take credit for the project?


  1. Okay on this, as you well know, we are the complete opposite. But what's really funny is that our spouses appear to have reverse roles as well. Jay is the fly by the seat of his pants partner in our house. Honestly I'm not sure what advice to give you on this one, though I'm not sure I would let the other kids take the credit. It's a tough one, but I think there is a lesson to be learned in there for all of you, LOL. By the way, fried plantains good?! How did you make them?

  2. LOL! I know - I wrote the first sentence and immediately thought about how opposite it was of anything you've posted! :-) But you're right, our hubbys have reversed roles too. Funny.
    The fried plantains... um, I don't know how they taste. I haven't made them yet!! :-)

  3. I am a total procrastinator. In fact, the way you described yourself in school is very similar to my experience. I grew out of it a bit in grad school, especially when I was trying to finish my dissertation with a 6 month old around. At that point, I had little choice but to make a schedule and stick to it, but in general, when left to my own devices I will always procrastinate.

    I can't speak to the school project except to say that it sounds like something I would have done! (Leaving it till the last minute, I mean. Not forcing my friend to do all the work while still take credit - those kids should be ashamed of themselves.)

    I enjoyed this post...thanks for your comment on my blog, which led me here!

  4. Thanks so much for your comment, Jamie!
    Yes, procrastination... I'm doing it right now. I am at WORK commenting on blogs! LOL!
    The school project... J told us that his two friends are starting to panic now. One is going to bring in some Cuban clothes (a guayabera shirt I guess), and the other is going to put some Cuban music on his iPod and play it during the fair. Real effort, right? Well, better than nothing I guess!

  5. We're just about to enter the world of 'real' school, and learning about homework policies was a big deal to me. I've heard parents talk about projects they simply had to do for their kids. Helping is one thing, but doing it! Not okay with me.
    I'm glad the friends are going to chip in. I don't know how I would handle that situation.

  6. I agree. I don't think parents should be doing the work. We definitely helped TOO much this time, but I feel guilty about not forcing him earlier, so c'est la vie.
    Thanks for visiting. I noticed that you are also a fairly new blogger and I like what I see so far. Looking forward to reading more! :-)

  7. Hi Shannon - I'm more like Christine than like you in the procrastination department. I am a big planner and tend to live by my to-do lists. Then again, I sometimes let things languish a bit once I've written them down, as though adding an item to my to-do list was the same as actually accomplishing it. I suppose that, like most of us, I'm good about accomplishing tasks that I enjoy and less good about those I don't (e.g. laundry, my personal bugaboo!).

  8. Shannon - I'm SUCH a procrastinator. Midnight oil burner. I almost can't start on anything without the panic button setting me in motion. And I'm so with you on the laundry. Wow - we're blogging twins and didn't even know it.

    As for your kid's friends getting credit for it - it'll be good practice for the corporate world. It sucks, but sometimes, such is life...

  9. Good point, Kristen! It's true that I don't really put off the tasks that I enjoy. It's the ones that I don't like that I tend to put off for as long as possible (laundry at home, filing at work)!

  10. Hi Justine,
    Yeah, the panic button... I NEED it! Weird. I really love your blog because I can always relate to you and you always have me laughing.

    I hear you about the corporate world. Happens all the time, doesn't?! Thanks for your comment!