Friday, November 6, 2009

Mother May I?

Dear Mother,
I have a really big problem and I hope you can help. Okay. Here goes. My daughter brought home, from school, a paper cut-out of a bear. The bear is wearing popsicle stick skis. It is surrounded by mounds of cotton balls. This is on a paper plate. What am I supposed to do with this?
-Don’t want to hurt her feelings in Wenatchee

Dear Don’t,
I am so sorry to hear about your recent experiences with school crafts. It is a great tragedy and your peaceful home most likely didn’t deserve to be infected thusly. Enough with the grief however, and lets get going on remediation. Obviously, as you have contacted me in your dire moment of despair, you are unwilling to throw it in to the garbage, in the dead of night, sneak the bag into the trunk of your car and dispose of the evidence down the end of a dirt road. I assume you have already considered and rejected that most obvious of solutions. In which case, I will lay out your alternatives:

1) You should approach the school. This should be done cautiously, without using your legal name. Gently but firmly let the teacher know that your daughter (who shall wisely remain nameless) is not allowed to use cotton balls or popsicle sticks, that you have deeply held beliefs about such things and would appreciate it if the school could show a little “cultural sensitivity” to your family’s unusual but perfectly legitimate and legally protected beliefs. Of course, that will not solve the current issue of this particular “craft”, but should prevent additional incidences.

2) Keep it on the mantle above your fireplace. I won’t actually endorse this so-called solution, as it may result in lugging the craft object around for the rest of your life. It will become familiar. It will become an old treasure. And in your waning years you will defend its existence to the home health care nurse:
“No! Don’t touch that!”
“But it’s covered in two inches of dust!”
“It’s a family heirloom!”
"A health hazard.”
“It was made by someone I love!”
“I can’t remember.”
“Why are you keeping it?”
“I… I…” you’ll falter, “I just don’t know anymore.” Pathetic.

3) Use the plate. Yes! Try it! Bring it along on a picnic and use the paper plate. Sure there will be cotton chunks in the baked beans and popsicle sticks in the hot dogs. But were those foods so great without sticks and puffs? This will make your daughter feel important, your big helper. Downside: she may continue making them, imagining them to be very helpful.

4) Encourage your daughter to play with it in the bath. Within minutes, it will be completely unsalvageable. This could, however, backfire when your daughter insists that it IS salvageable. In that case, your troubles will double.

5) Store it. Yes, the cotton puffs will fill an entire double sized storage box. However, years later when you pull it out, all you will see is your daughter’s (which one? You’ll never remember) obedient execution of her clever little teacher’s crafty plan.

6) Return it to the teacher, with a D for creativity, a D for functionality, a D for educability, and an F for considerate behavior. Again, name withheld.

7) Write your teacher, your principal, your superintendent, your senators, your president and plead for the eradication of cotton balls and popsicle sticks from all schools, pre-schools, after-school programs, and teacher training materials. Cotton balls are for something, I don’t know what, but not crafts. And let us all work together to keep popsicle sticks out of schools and in the popsicles to which they belong. Thank you.

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