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The Colosseum

I was excited to see Chloe taking an interest in a school assignment during her usual Full House—Netflix hours.

She brought home a box, rather, an exact replica of the Colosseum as it existed in Ancient Rome and I marveled at her enthusiasm.

Of course, I made a colossal parenting mistake by casually asking, “What are you making?” when it was clearly so incredibly obvious. Duh.

I resisted the urge to get involved. We’ve built, coloured and constructed enough projects for these three kids and I haven’t received so much as a case of wine or certificate of excellence from the teaching staff. From now on, I’d like to see what the kids can come up with without our interference. Also, Netflix was now uncharacteristically available.

For anyone unfamiliar with this amazing, historical symbol of the Roman Empire:

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And Chloe’s version: Exactly. Identical.

Nailed it. I know and I should have just focused on the structure, the lines, the planning but instead, I stupidly asked, “Do you think people will know it’s The Colosseum?” I sensed a look and backpedaled. “I mean, The Colosseum….you don’t think they might confuse it for……another…..colosseum…..?”

“Well if they don’t know what it is, I’ll just ask, have you ever tried to build it?”

Right. That is probably the best and only response.

She asked me for some paint, colour was irrelevant, and I made another blunder suggesting she could use a tea bag to paint it to give it an older look.

“Why is your solution to everything to rub it with a teabag?”

I wish I knew. I wish. I. knew.  I do default to that more than maybe I should. I just didn’t think Benjamin Moore’s “cloud white” would give Chloe’s Colosseum the weathered look she might be going for, though, who am I to judge an artist with a model of this magnitude? It might instead resemble a new-ish, low-rise condo building if we don’t keep the colours dull and muted. Not my project. She can do what she wants.

Ellie said in the background, “You could rub it with lemon juice and put it in the oven?”

Chloe, calmer when her sister was making the suggestion, “Why, so it could catch on fire?” That’s more like it.

The thought had crossed my mind. Also, that Ellie must have been baking her projects all this time without me knowing. Maybe that’s what kept happening to Hanna’s math homework.

But this project is more than a simple model of The Colosseum. There is a research component she has been working on tirelessly during school and non-t.v. hours. She started arranging the white, printed pages on a white background and I asked, breezily, really more of a you-can-do-this-if-you-want-but-there’s-no-pressure-from-anyone-under-this-roof-and-no-tea-bag-required, “There’s construction paper in the closet if you want to frame the printed pages before you glue them on.”

She didn’t say anything but seemed to be making her way toward the craft cupboard. I held my breath as she passed.

Out came her choice of background paper and a pair of scissors.

I turned on the kettle….and then the oven.

This is probably my fault. I should have said there’s brown or beige or black paper. I hadn’t considered the fluorescent rainbow but Chloe certainly had.

There’s not enough tea in the world to dull these stripes.

Not my project.

Not. My. Project.

Once the white paper was affixed to the neon paper, made famous by the Roman Empire’s interior designers who now all work for the retail chain, “Justice”, I scanned one of the pages and noticed something interesting.

“Chloe, when you were doing your research, did you understand all of the material? I know it can be confusing and complicated. Especially the section on tools.”

“Yep, it was fine. It all makes sense.”
I could hear Uncle Joey’s impressions firing up. The Romans had lost her.

I just hope the neon paper is a big enough distraction that no one raises their hand and asks her to explain the rather frighteningly named vaginal speculum.

Not my project.

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