My niece called me up the other day to ask me to help her with a school project. She is the sweetest thing this side of the Olsen twins, and I couldn’t say no. Her sixth grade class was compiling a short written history of the stories of their families. Coming from a family of seven kids (and therefore from an endless supply of stories), I was honored that she included me. I quickly agreed to help in any way I could.
Then I got the written instructions. Thermonuclear reactors require less documentation.
To make a long story short (and, trust me, it turned out to be a veeeeeeery long story), it ended up taking two days for me to finish my contribution. Eschewing sleep in order to complete my pieces before her deadline, I struggled under the pressure to “come through in the clutch.” I wrote, then rewrote, then realized that I had to take out all the inappropriate references and allusions to the crimes of her father. In short, I had to do many of the things that James Frey should have done: spare her some of the more embarrassing details.
When, at last, I was able to send off two finished stories that adhered to the project requirements, I’d felt as if I’d just finished a book. I was free! I could actually turn back to the stack of student papers that rose from my desk like a flimsy paper finger pointing toward the sky…
Her next email started out thusly: “Dear Uncle Robby,
Thank you for sending me those two stories for my project. They were very funny. I have to have the next two by Tuesday.”
This might be why I don’t have kids. I love my nieces and nephews more than life itself, but I’m going to have to miss “Dancing With The Stars” in order to finish now.
My love has limits…