Thursday, September 29, 2011

Falling to Pieces Over the Leaf Project

The seventh graders have a big assignment. Big. It’s called the Leaf Project.

Here’s what it is in a nutshell: Collect a few dozen leaves of different varieties. Identify the tree from whence the leaves came. Press those leaves. Mount the leaves in a book, along with info about the leaves. Hand it in.

Sounds simple, right?

Not so fast.

Neither The Spouse nor I had heard anything about this seventh grade Leaf Project until just before we walked into the science teacher’s classroom on Curriculum Night when another dad asked us how our kids were coming along with the project.

“What ‘Leaf Project?’” I asked.

He looked at me quizzically as we took our places behind the desks. It was during the science teacher’s presentation that we learned about the Leaf Project. She said she’d be taking the students around the school grounds a few times to ID trees. We just needed to give them a reference book to help them classify the trees, something I bought the day after Curriculum Night.

Still, it sounded fairly easy enough. No need to stress out.

Then I received an e-mail from a kind parent inviting my kids to a session with a forester from town who had volunteered to conduct a session with seventh graders at a student’s home, but my seventh graders wouldn’t be able to make it. And the Leaf Project became the subject of ample, anxious chatter at the sidelines of soccer games among the seventh grade parents.

My kids started freaking out over it and worrying, insisting that the only place they could search for leaves was on the school grounds, as long as I bring them to the school and hang around in my car waiting for them. On two different afternoons when I was supposed to be working.

“Why can’t you just go in the woods in the back of our house?” I asked them, irritated that they were asking me to truck them around as though my schedule was irrelevant.

“We can’t,” they said, protesting that there aren’t enough different kinds of trees in our woods. The only place to look, they were convinced, is at school.

“Why would we waste all that work we did?” The Eldest Boy asked, referring to the school leaf walks where the trees have already been identified.

“Why, you can’t just go outside?” I still didn’t get it, why they couldn’t just go into the woods and ID trees and leaves near us.

Then yesterday, The Eldest Boy and The Girl asked if they could stay late after school with their teacher and go on another leaf collection walk and take a late bus home. I said, “Sure,” as that option seemed preferable to me spending two afternoons hanging out in the school parking lot waiting for them. Then my daughter inexplicably decided not to stick around after school so she could get her own personal leaf time on Thursday, when the kids had the day off from school (for the Jewish New Year, which we’ll be celebrating on Sunday), and have The Spouse or me bring her to the school grounds while we wait for her.

However it poured last night (I tend to think it was the collective tears of crushed Red Sox fans). All the leaves are now wet. But since The Girl waited, she’s going to have to tromp through the dampness, collect and dry out the leaves.

Damned Leaf Project.


  1. If you're looking for places to collect more leaves, try taking a drive to Wellesley College! I remember my parents taking me there back in the day when I had to do that project. Those were the days!

  2. I remember doing that project when I was in middle school waaaaay back when. So much preferable to the insect collection that they (thankfully!) no longer do.

    The best spot back in the day was behind St. Mark's Church. I remember they had chestnut and ginko trees among others. Not sure if that's still the case.

    Good luck!