The attack of the killer presentation

This week, Boy #2 had to give a presentation to his class. The topic? “All about me.” Sounds pretty straightforward, huh? That’s what I thought, too.

I had asked him to think about what he wanted to include in his presentation, and I would help him with the visual part of it when I got home from work. Well…when I walked in the door that afternoon, I was greeted with a “Guess what? I’m done!” from the boy.

“Done with what?” I asked a bit uneasily. It’s rarely something I WANT to hear he’s “done with,” like putting away all the laundry or determining how we can shave 20% off our monthly budget without feeling the hit. Instead, I usually get things like “defrosting the freezer in the garage” (that’s full of food) or “writing all over my brother with makers.”

This time, however, what he was “done” with was his poster for his presentation. Which would be okay if someone other than his 6-year-old brother had helped him organize and write it. Yeah, that $8 tri-fold presentation board that he insisted he needed and I got on my infamous Wal-Mart trip was now completely covered in random phrases and one lone Iowa Hawkeyes pencil that was secured to it with a more-than-ample amount of tape.

But what could I say? He was so excited to “surprise me.” I couldn’t shatter his enthusiasm. Instead, I went with “Wowwww, yeah, you really covered that board, didn’t you? Look at that!”

There was no sort of organization to his factoids, and frankly, some of the things he thought his classmates should know about him were news to me, too. But nonetheless, I later sat down to work with him on his oral part of the presentation after finally convincing them that his teacher didn’t want him to just stand in front of the class and read random sentences off his poster. Thank goodness she included a rubric to “prove” this to him, because my insistence alone was not good enough. (Never mind that I used to teach this stuff to high schoolers. I apparently know nothing.)

First we started with the introduction. He didn’t understand why he couldn’t just say, “This is my presentation.” So I tried to give him ideas of different ways to start off, such as with a quotation or funny story, or even a joke. He wanted no part of any of it. Finally, he agreed to give the kids a math problem to solve as an example of one thing about him: he loves math. Whew, now on to the rest of the presentation.

After studying the rubric some more, he came up with the idea “on his own” that maybe he should turn over his presentation board and redo it on the other side, this time with a wee bit of organization. Man, why hadn’t I thought of that? Once he got started, he really did a great job of plugging most of his “facts” into one of 4 categories: Things I like to do, things I like to play, my favorite things, and things I love. Not bad for a third grader.

There were, however, several facts he had included on his poster that seemed to be enigmas. We weren’t sure where to fit them in. Things like “I like to look at my reflection in water.” Apparently, this was a secret love because it was the first time I’d ever heard it. I’m still not sure whether it has more to do with a fascination of the reflective properties of water or a fascination with himself. After insisting this fact HAD to be on his poster, he decided on the “What I like to do” section.

Another enigma? “I like to fuse red and black.” Hmm… First off, I was unsure what this meant until he showed me how he’d taken a red marker and a black marker, held them both in his hand at the same time, and written his name. Apparently this is “fusing” the two colors. I don’t think I knew what “fuse” meant until chemistry class in high school. This also went under “things I like to do,” making it one intriguing category.

His favorite foods also made me smile (Of course, only on the inside. This was serious business.) They were, in order:

  1. pizza
  2. salad
  3. croutons
  4. Oreos
  5. doughnuts

I’ve never heard of anyone listing “croutons” as one of their favorite foods, but hey, at least they were above doughnuts.

His favorite animals were also somewhat of a surprise:

  1. sharks
  2. dogs
  3. mountain goats
  4. mountain sheep

That was it. No other animal must’ve been worthy enough to occupy the fifth spot. And are there both mountain goats AND mountain sheep? Boy #2 confessed that he thought the goats were just male sheep, kind of like bulls and cows. Makes sense to me, but I had to break the news that indeed, they are different species. However, I’m not so sure on the “mountain” part for both…

When he started practicing for us, we noticed a new voice we’d never heard before: the baby-talk-from-a-third-grader voice. Kind of like “wah way wah wi wu.”

“Uh, Boy #2,” I interrupted. “You’re not going to use that voice, are you?”

“No,” he said.

“Well, then let’s not practice with it,” I suggested, as patiently as I could.

“But everyone’s going to be looking at me!” he said, and I realized that I’d forgotten how scary it was the first time I had to get up in front of a class to give a speech. Although I’m pretty sure I didn’t have to until like 9th grade. Back in the days before state standards and all.

I told him that EVERYONE gets nervous before they talk in front of people. It’s perfectly normal. I said that even movie stars and the president get nervous. He totally didn’t believe me. “Duh, Mom, they do it ALL THE TIME. They don’t get nervous!” I don’t think I was able to convince him otherwise, but at least I got his mind off that silly voice for a minute.

When the big day arrived, I suggested that he wear jeans (Heaven forbid) and a nicer shirt. “I HATE jeans!” he told me. “I’ll just wear THIS!”

And he plucked a pair of red slick pants and a maroon T-shirt. Now, I’ve pretty much given up trying to make my boys’ clothes match. But usually I do try to avoid blatant CLASHING. Especially on a day they have to get up in front of the class to give a presentation. But no amount of prodding or pleading would convince Boy #2 that his clothes do not match. “They’re both RED, Mom!” So I decided if he wanted to wear it and felt comfortable, it was a small battle to give in to.

Oh, and did I mention that he was also wearing his bright lime-green Crocs? Yeah…

All day I thought about Boy #2 and wondered how he’d do. We even made note cards so he wouldn’t forget anything, and we practiced over and over.

So when he came home, I said, “Boy #2, how’d it go?!”

“Good,” he said. “Except I forgot to do my introduction or my ending.”

“What?” I asked, my face falling. “But, honey, we practiced and practiced!”

“Mom, I got a perfect score, so who cares?”

Well, I guess you can’t really argue with that.

And hey, he only has to do THREE MORE presentations this year! I can’t wait to see what he comes up with for those. There’s never a dull moment with Boy #2 around.

8 thoughts on “The attack of the killer presentation”

  1. Aren’t you amazed you can even make it out of the house and survive a day after you work with your 3rd grader and realize how incredibly dumb you are?! What is it about 3rd grade? I too got exponentially dumber when K1 hit grade 3. It’s hard isn’t it, to not say, dude, this is a disaster, how about an outline?!

  2. Laughed so hard at this! “Boy #1”, at my house, enjoyed it too. I can so relate to the middle child thing. “Boy #2”, at my house, walked out the door with orange shorts and a blue shirt today. I was told, “it doesn’t matter.” He also just wrote an autobiography in 7th grade. I was mildy amused…..I think. I don’t always know how to respond to his “humor”. Miss you. Chat soon.

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