Procrastination has plagued me most of my life. It’s not intentional, but rather I normally just forget minor details until they have become urgent.
“I need some pencils,” I announced one morning at the breakfast table.
“What kind of pencils?” my uncle asked.
“Ain’t you got pencils? What you been writing with?” Granny demanded.
“These are special pencils,” I said, making eye contact with my uncle so he’d know the gravity of the matter and more importantly, that discretion was needed. “We gotta have colored pencils for some kind of project.”
“What kind of colored pencils?” he asked.
“No particular brand, just the ones that are like crayons but in pencil form.”
Granny had already wandered down the hall, not worried about my pencil predicament.
“When do you need them by?” my uncle asked.
“Oh heck,” he muttered. He took one last sip of his coffee. “Come on, Dad, we gotta go.”
This scene - or one like it - played out on numerous occasions throughout my childhood.
I’d have a project due or needed something specific for school, and totally forget about it until it was needed.
We had Wacky Hat day and I remembered the night before. The next day, I went to school wearing a colander with curlers strung through the holes with yarn.
“I will die of embarrassment!” I cried, seeing Granny’s creation.
“This is what you get when you wait until the last minute to tell anyone you needed something,” she responded. “Besides. It’s supposed to be a wacky hat, ain’t it? You know the rules. You get what you get and you don’t pitch a fit.”
I knew better than to argue with her.
The next morning, Mama asked me what was on my head. “It’s Wacky Hat day,” I answered simply.
“Is that supposed to be a hat?” she inquired, looking at the horrors.
“It’s the best Granny could come up with on short notice.”
“I see.” Mama studied it a bit longer. “Why didn’t you ask me? I could have maybe made something a little...better.”
I sighed. Even as a kid, I sighed.
“You were at work.”
“When did you know you needed it?”
I sighed again.
“About a week or so, I guess. I forgot until last night.”
Mama nodded. She was probably wondering if the hat horror was simply Granny’s passive-aggressive way of getting back at me for waiting until the night before to tell her I needed something.
Of course, it didn’t work.
I lived fast and loose when it came to needing something for school. Dioramas, science projects, book reports -- all were put off until the night before.
The whole family was involved in helping me get across the finish line, and my grandfather finally declared one day he didn’t know why anyone seemed surprised at my emergencies.
As I grew older and wiser, and couldn’t ask for parental intercession, I learned the importance of being aware of deadlines and due dates.
It was too late though, as I am sure Granny had already cursed me enough times to make sure I was going to be paid back in spades for all of my dilly dallying.
Enter my own precious child, who seems to get his procrastination from none other than his mother.
“Mama,” he began one night as he got ready for bed. “I’m gonna need a costume for school.”
“What kind of costume?” I asked.
“For a living history lesson. I’m gonna be Lance Armstrong, the first man on the moon.”
“I think you mean Neil Armstrong,” I said. “Unless you’re going as the cyclist.”
He shook his head. “No, I’m going as the astronaut.”
“OK,” I said, my brain whirling with ideas. I was thinking of how I could maybe get some kind of large bowl and cover in foil to make it look like the helmet of a space suit and was wondering if I could get some kind of white coveralls and dye them silver. For once, I was getting creative and thinking of all the possibilities that could be made.
“When do you need it by?” I asked.
He kissed my nose. “Tomorrow morning.”
“What!” I shrieked.
“Tomorrow,” he repeated. “Good night, Mama.”
My creativity had to shift gears at breakneck speed.
There would be no silver dyed overalls or fishbowl helmet. I ran to my laptop to search for ideas, something Granny and Mama didn’t have the luxury of using when I was a small child.
I printed off a NASA logo and typed “N. Armstrong” on a doc and printed it off, and safety pinned them both to Cole’s blue button down shirt from the previous Easter. I pulled out his blue dress pants, worried they’d be too short. Granny’s favorite mantra may have to apply to both of us, I thought.
The next morning, Cole greeted me at my office door, Pop-Tart in hand.
“Do you have my costume ready?” he asked, eyeing my space.
I nodded, and handed it to him.
“This isn’t what an astronaut would wear,” he said, crestfallen.
“It is if he’s going to a meeting at NASA,” I said, not sure if that was the truth or not.
“B-but,” he began. “I wanted to be Neil Armstrong.”
“You are,” I said, pointing to the nametag. “See.”
He sighed. Another thing he got from his mama is the ability to sigh to express a myriad of emotions, especially disappointment.
“I wanted it to be a spacesuit.”
I did, too. But sometimes, necessity warrants a different kind of creativity.
Sudie Crouch is an award-winning humor columnist residing in the North Georgia Mountains among the bears, deer, and possibly Sasquatch. You can connect with her on Facebook at Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Humor, and Deep-Fried Wisdom. Her recently published book, ‘Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Wisdom, and Deep-Fried Humor’ is available in paperback and Kindle download on Amazon.