Anything But the Crafts Room




My youngest child is 15. Five years ago today, I volunteered at my last grade school class party. I remember the day with great fondness, recalling the dance of joy I did in the parking lot afterward as I said to myself, “I never have to do that ever again in my entire life!”

The way my kids’ grade school did parties was to have each class rotate through various rooms – the Crafts Room, the Snack Room, the Game Room. My first class party I eagerly asked what I should do and was assigned to the Crafts Room, where I was handed some colored paper and glue sticks, along with an instruction sheet containing unfathomable diagrams. Thirty seconds later I had kindergarteners lined up, waiting for me to show them how to make their whatever it was supposed to be. I’m not a crafty person and I work a lot better with linguistic instruction than pictures. The other parents in the room were breezing through their lines of kids, while I sat and wondered which way the paper was supposed to fold.

I learned a valuable lesson that day. Show up early and grab a spot in the Snack Room dipping ice cream, before someone else takes the position. The number of kids still seems overwhelming, but once you’ve filled them with sugar, you get to send them out of the room to go be someone else’s hyperactive problem.

Valentine’s Day always featured the added bonus of showing up with a case of PTSD from having assembled and addressed three dozen valentines the night before with a kid who insisted they fervently wanted to give out valentines, yet couldn’t seem to get through the task of even signing them. The first couple of years I insisted I wasn’t doing the work for their valentines. This progressed to, “Okay, I’ll make and address half and you address half, but you have to sign them all.” The final year I gave up all pretense. I bought a package of Iron Man perforated cards and forged my son’s name on them. It was easier and less stressful that way.

There are things I miss about having younger kids. I miss going to the park. I miss bedtime reading and snuggles on the couch. But there are compensations, with no more class parties being one of the biggies.



You Were Right, Mom

While my mom is still around, I want to take this opportunity to say, publicly, that she was right about so many things. Not that we see eye-to-eye on everything. But I’ve come around on a lot of issues since I was a kid.

I can rarely convince my son to wear a coat, even on the coldest winter days. I comfort myself by noticing how few kids exiting his high school in the afternoon are bundled up. If I’m a bad mom, at least I have lots of company. I remember how I never wanted to wear a winter hat in my younger days, no matter how many maternal admonishments I received about frost-bitten ears. I wouldn’t believe my mom was right about how important it was to cover your head in order to stay warm, because nobody else my age was doing it. In a concrete sense, I really was too cool.

Somewhere in the years of my adult life I stopped caring whether other people were wearing hats or not. I wanted to be warm. Since I have a lot of hair, I often go for a scarf wrapped around my head in lieu of hat, but I do cover my head with something when the temperature dips below freezing. Mom, you were right. It makes a huge difference.

And, Mom, the thing where  you always cleaned the top of a can before opening it? Totally the right thing to do. I used to think this was a silly obsession springing from your clean freak nature. Besides, it added needless seconds onto the food prep time. Then I became a mother, myself. After enough experience cleaning up someone else’s puke, I couldn’t help thinking a little harder about food safety and cleanliness. Once I took the time to make a close observation of the workings of the can opener, I realized how easily the device could push anything from the top of the can into the food. I’ll never reach anywhere near my mom’s level of tidiness, but on this one issue, yeah, she’s probably right. Definitely right. It only takes a couple of seconds after all, to wipe the top of a can. And then I can serve my family tomato sauce with confidence.

Also, my things do last longer when I take care of them. Who would have thought it? Oh yeah – you, Mom.