I Blame Mommy's Martini for My Splinters

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Two weeks ago I helped my son with his first school report. Why first graders need to do reports is beyond me, but I decided to take the opportunity to show him how to do research and write a rough draft. The topic was animals. The students could choose whatever animal they wished and answer questions like, "does your animal migrate?" and "where does your animal live?" For whatever reason Drama Kid chose penguins.


My crazy busy week kept me from taking him to the library to look up reference books so we took the easy way out and printed information from Google searches. Another part of the assignment was to draw pictures of the animal and bring in other pictures of the animal. Not having any Penguin Weekly's lying around I decided to do a craft project (stop laughing!).

Naturally, I turned to my internet luvah and sent a Tweet asking if anyone could think of a project I could do with penguins. I got several good suggestions. Mommy's Martini suggested I put feet and wings on a blown out egg. Since I don't even eat eggs there was no way I was going to put my mouth on a raw one. But, I did like the idea of going three dimensional. When I picked the kid up from school we headed to crafters hell (also known as Michaels) in search of something we could make into a penguin. My thought was to find the styrofoam egg shapes, add penguin parts and googly eyes and call it a day.



But then, my competitive nature and good study habits took over and the word diorama neon flashed in my brain and we had to find just the right thing to make the penguin out of. I started to picture a painted backdrop, cotton for snow and a cute little penguin front and center.


What fun this would be! I'd help the kid with his first school project and we'd bond and have fun over a converted shoebox. Oh how quickly that dream turned into a nightmare!

First, let me say to Michaels: It seems kinda obvious to me that the early evening hours, the ones right after school where kids are telling their parents about the big projects they have due? Would be the appropriate time to have more than four people on staff. And what's up with the missing apostrophe?



After helping another parent find the stencils, I practically tackled a guy and begged him to help me flesh out my idea. He was an angel! He walked all over the aisles with us pointing out various diorama makings and offering suggestions. Which we didn't take, but it was still very nice of him to take the time.


It was Drama Kid who happened to find the main component for the diorama. We went to to discount aisle (foam egg shapes are $3.50 a piece!) and found puzzles made from thin wood. I told him to get searching and he dug through the bins and found the penguin set.

The puzzle made two penguins, an adult and a baby, and when put together would be three dimensional. The wood could be painted (yeah, right) or colored with markers. The picture looked simple enough and for $2 the price was exactly right. After an hour in Crafters Hell we were ready to go.



We get home a little after 6:00, I assemble the shoe box, paint and cotton balls, start dinner and open the puzzle to read the directions. And realize I'm totally screwed. What looked so simple from the picture turned out to be a project for someone with an engineering degree.



The directions were a joke, the pieces left wood shavings all over and I had to sand some down to keep from getting splinters.

Fast forward two hours and a few frustrated Tweets and it's time to get the kid in bed and the stupid penguin is only half put together. I'm totally ready to give up, but then we'd not be completing the assignment and the nerd in me just couldn't do it. Hubby did help me with the last few pieces (there was one left over) and the damn thing was finished long after the kid had fallen asleep.

Before I had a kid, I said I didn't want to be one of 'those' parents who did their kids' entire homework projects for them. Fail! But, it wasn't Drama Kid's fault that his mommy had such lofty ideas with no skills to back them up! And he did the painting, cutting and gluing.

The next day I walked him to class carrying his backpack so he could carry his project himself. He told me at pick up that he was the only one who did something like that and I could tell he was so proud. I would gladly suffer more splinters to see that look on his face again.

8 comments:

  1. This project looks GREAT! I'm sorry I sent you to so much trouble (inadvertently) but I have to say that you did a great job between you. I'm glad he was so proud.

    And nicely done with the research part, too, by the way!

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  2. I'm teasing! It's my own stupid fault for thinking I could pull it off at the last minute!

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  3. It is beautiful Mel, just beautiful. And I'm sure Drama Kid will remember for the rest of his life the wonderful time he had with you at Michael's and how much love you showed him by helping him do this project.

    I never wanted to be the mom who did her kids' projects for them either, but if I had to err on the side of helping too much or not enough, well, guess what I did? Just what you did.

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  4. This is why I hate school projects. You have three groups of kids. The ones like yours and mine who have beautiful projects because their parents stayed up all night doing them. Then you have the kids whose parents buy the stuff and make the kid do his own project, and it turns out like a first grader made it which is what it should be, but the kid is all embarrassed. Then you have the very sad kids whose parents don't buy the stuff to make the project and don't encourage the kid to do it, so the kid goes to class with nothing.
    I say no projects until the kid is old enough to drive to Micheal[']s himself.

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  5. Aww, the finished product looks so sweet! You will remember that splintery night forever. :)

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  6. It turned out beautifully, if that's any consolation. :grin:

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  7. I can see why those Penguins where hard to do. This is precisely why projects should be done in class--so the parents like us that can't just leave well enough alone don't get involved!

    It does look fantastic and I can just picture how proud he must have been.

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  8. Wow. That is one good-looking penguin habitat. I can't wait to see what you do with the 4th grade project: California Missions. Start now! :) You should see how crafty these families get.

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