This weekend my wife came down with strep throat so I got the unenviable task of tending to the kid’s schoolwork. Sandwiching in school assignments between Piano, Tae Kwon Do, and Soccer, my eldest son was having trouble with some of his examinations. (What happened to the good ole days, where extra-curricular activities consisted of throwing rocks at each other?) My wife found if she got the following week’s homework on Friday, my son could get most of it done in a much more relaxed atmosphere and now he’s getting A’s on all of his tests. There are reasons kids do better when there is a mom and a dad at home.
Also this weekend we had the additional bonus of a school project. I was very irritable. I know I am too young to be so cantankerous, but I am quite overwhelmed right now. It is one thing to manufacture one handgun, but to manufacture hundreds, or thousands, is a whole new deal. I am knee deep in the machinery and tooling procurement required to mass produce my product. I have engineering changes that have to be completed before we enter the market. I am managing the development of our website which is integral to our whole marketing campaign. My internet guy makes me do a Podcast each month. Supposedly this new technology is all the rage, and I agreed to participate, but what started out as a simple idea has turned into a technological fiasco. There are just not enough hours in the day to complete all the work I need to finish, and the last thing I need is a homework assignment.
I managed to calm myself down long enough to take the kid to the store for materials for our project. I asked the gal at the store where to find Styrofoam, and my son asked where to find a bell. The attendant was very nice and said, Is this for your Mission Project? She showed us to the section in the store that had everything you ever wanted to build a model of a mission. There were little farm animals, Indians, mission roofing tiles, little priests and crosses, you name it. They even had a mission kit for $19.99, which I was thrilled to find, mission accomplished!
My kid notified me that we were not allowed to use the mission kit. What the heck is the difference between cutting out a piece of Styrofoam from scratch, or getting a nicely die-cut kit which is ready to assemble? Is this kid learning about California history, where the Spanish colonized and built a Mission system up and down our coast, or is he learning how to make stuff? If he is learning how to make stuff, I don’t need any help from the school system, I own a machine shop for crying out loud.
I really want to talk to the guy who figured out he could make a living providing arts and crafts stores with materials to build model missions for California school children. American ingenuity never wavers. I wonder how much kick back goes to clandestine school administrators to keep that mission project in the curriculum for years on end.
We went through the perfunctory steps of gathering glue guns and other mission paraphernalia. We filled our basket with a bunch of materials that are likely to end up in the big round file a week from now. After the cashier tallied up our plethora of junk, I was only fifty bucks in the hole. We got home with all of our stuff ready to assemble and I showed my kid how to use an Exacto knife without cutting his hand off. I had to yell at him a couple of times when he went astray. We managed to get the thing together and I had to go back to the store for a tube of paint. My wife was happy me and my kid got to bond.
While our schools are teaching our kids to be nice to the environment, that there is no God, and that money is not the most important thing, China is turning out many times the engineers and scientists that we are. While we pump out attorneys that venture to do nothing but bring lawsuits against or most productive and innovative companies, dragging down our economy, the Chinese are actually learning how to add.
For the record, next to health, money is the most important thing. Invariably, if you have lots of money, you are also likely to have better health. If you disagree with me, don’t pay your taxes and find out how important money is.
So while China is teaching their population basic skills like reading and writing, we are teaching our kids how to build a Styrofoam mission. These skills are going to come in real handy when our kids grow up and decide they want to work in manufacturing. Manufacturing is a real good business too, I ought to know, we only have to compete with Japan, China, Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Viet Nam, India
The mission project was actually done in March when I wrote this column. I decided to post this piece because I just wasn’t in the mood to write about the anti-American MoveOn.org zealots who have endeavored to denigrate and debase the patriotic work of our dedicated and loyal General, David Petraeus.
Copyright 2007 Jim Pontillo