Scene: Shaggy Hair is playing the piano. Boy in Black is on the couch surrounded by textbooks, papers covered with physics problems, and his laptop computer. With-a-Why has wandered over to the kitchen area with the kind of stapled worksheet that eighth graders are given for school projects.
With-a-Why: I need an empty can.
Me: Shouldn't you be in bed?
With-a-Why: I have this project due tomorrow.
Boy in Black (without even looking up): Just finish up the Ovaltine and use that.
With-a-Why (dumping out the Ovaltine): I need a rubber band.
Me: Let me see that sheet.
Shaggy Hair: We need to get the piano tuned. Listen.
Me: (over the sound of piano music) You've had THREE WEEKS to work on this.
Boy in Black: (without looking up) It's fine.
Me: It's almost ten o'clock.
With-a-Why sits down on the floor and builds a rubber-band powered Ovaltine can, while his brothers chime in with helpful suggestions.
Shaggy Hair Boy: You gonna race them?
With-a-Why: Yeah, and you get points by how far it goes.
Me: Your grade depends on whether or not the vehicle works?
With-a-Why: I get at least a 60 for doing the worksheet. It needs to go at least two feet to get more than that.
Boy in Black: Where'd we put the skateboard bearings I got to fix the vacuum cleaner with? Try them.
Me: You've had THREE WEEKS and you're just doing this now?
Boy in Black: It's fine.
With-a-Why: The hole needs to be bigger.
Shaggy Hair Boy: That's what she said.
Me: None of you get enough sleep.
With-a-Why: There's too much friction.
Boy in Black: You need friction to make it go forward.
Shaggy Hair Boy: I think you're winding —
With-a-Why: I need a new rubber band.
Scene two: In the car. I've just picked With-a-Why up from school.
Me: How did you make out with the rubber band thing?
With-a-Why: Uh, it was on the fritz.
Me: Did it move?
With-a-Why: I got 60.
Me: It didn't work? At all?
With-a-Why: You're going to say, "That's what you get for doing it at the last minute."
Me: I didn't say that.
With-a-Why: You were thinking that.
Me: So tell me what happened. It didn't move at all?
With-a-Why: It went 60 feet.
Me: 60 feet?
With-a-Why: It would have gone even farther if the wall wasn't there.
Me: (laughing) I was hoping you'd learn some kind of lesson about not doing stuff at the last minute.
With-a-Why: Doing it at the last minute helped.
Me: How do you figure that?
With-a-Why: I didn't have time to do anything complicated so I had to go with a simple design.
Me: Well, I think you're lucky you had siblings to help.
With-a-Why: If it had curved to the left, it would have gone into the attendance office.
With-a-Why: You get bonus points if your vehicle goes into the attendance office and messes with things.
Me: So you didn't really get a 60.
With-a-Why: I got a 100.
With-a-Why: That's what you get when you do it at the last minute.