The Big One Hundred

There has always been something special about the number 100. Ben Franklin on the C-Note. The Hundred Years War. Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game. 100 degrees on the thermometer. Whatever the case, when you see “100”, it stands out and carries a meaning unlike any other number.

I thought about that meaning a lot recently as my wife painstakingly applied a dollop of Elmer’s glue to every one of 100 pieces of Starburst fruit chews and then apply every one of those 100 pieces of Starburst fruit chews to a large sheet of paper to create the appearance of a “present” so that our seven-year-old daughter, Maddo, could complete her 100 Day Project for school.

I have no idea if this is a remnant of the No Child Left Behind era, or part of today’s Commom Core standards. Maybe it has no meaning at all other than something that can help teach the number 100? Knowing the teachers I know, it’s a way for them to look at the calendars and think, “Only eighty days until the end of the year!”

And knowing the teachers I know, that statement can either be said with pure excitement or utter exhaustion.

All I really know about the 100 Day Project are two things:

The kids came back to class with a lot of “creative” projects.
As is the case with most projects kids get as school assignments, especially when they are seven years old, we parents end up doing the majority of the work. (And by “majority”, I mean “Approximately 99% of the work).

Version 2
Maddo’s 100-Day project. 100 pieces of Starburst goodness made to look like a present.

Luckily for us, Maddo did supply plenty of advanced knowledge of when her project was due. And then, like millions of parents who end up putting their engineering skills to work for their kids homework, my wife and I waited until almost the last minute to settle on an idea for Maddo’s project. This is why we ended up at Target on a Sunday morning and debating with an intensity greater than Middle East peace talks over whether to get three or four bags of Starburst chews.

Of course, the Starburst bags weren’t clear and we couldn’t get an idea of how many chews were inside them. And, of course, too, there was nothing to say how many chews were within the arch bag. We chose to go with the Colin Powell theory of battle and bought three bags, figuring it would be better to have more than we need than not have enough.

And this is how we now have 80 extra pieces of Starbursts bouncing around our kitchen, as each bag ended up having 60 pieces in each.

My wife dove in right away and started squeezing out dabs of glue onto the little squares and affixing them to the display paper in four sections of 25 chews each. Maddo, who kept asking me me for my iPad, a drink or a snack every 15 seconds, glued about one chew for every five that my wife put in place. To be honest, it was probably for the best that it worked out this way. Like many first-graders, Maddo’s handwriting looks like something from a ransom note; I’m pretty sure that having her put all 100 Starbursts in place would have ended up looking more like, well, a bag of spilled Starbursts rather than a properly designed “present”.

Eventually, my wife managed to keep just enough glue off her fingertips to get the Magical 100 Starbursts in place, and Maddo managed to carry the thing to her classroom where everyone’s project was on display. I didn’t see any of the other creations, but from what Maddo said, it seemed like many of the other classroom parents spent some time scouring arts and crafts books and/or Pinterest pages for ideas they hoped would win their kids a blue ribbon for originality. Some of the other works included:

–A Minnie Mouse made of 100 marshmallows and goldfish. This sounded both Disneyriffic and like a good way of getting rid of a bunch of stale snacks.

–100 toothpicks used to make a jail. Or, it might have been a house. Maddo was only sure that the Big Bad Wolf could have blown it down.

–100 pineneedles. “He just grabbed a bunch of pineneedles and tied them together,” Maddo said, describing the kid’s project.

–100 Legos. I guess this kid went Old School, because according to Maddo, he didn’t build some fancy “Star Wars”-style Lego kit, and just brought “some stacks” of Legos for his project.

I know I never did a 100 Day Project when I was in school, so I really can’t knock what these kids came up with. I also never knew when the 100th day of school was, and I can guarantee that my parents were too busy to care. But now, this is what you do when you have kids these days: You go to parent-teacher conferences when you should be at work and put you together 100-day projects made of candy.

And with Maddo’s project, if we open just one Starburst a day, we’ll be able to stretch her “present” out for another 100 days. By then, it will be summer, and we’ll be counting however many days it is until another milestone: The first day of school.


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