Sorry, Kids: I’m Not Doing Your Projects

Remember when you were a kid and had to do some crafty, themed homework assignment? I vividly remember having to create a sock puppet for my kindergarten graduation ceremony and even a family crest in the fifth grade (both of which turned out terribly because evidently my hatred for crafting goes waaaay back). You know what I don’t remember? My mom overseeing each step of the process, helping me make creative decisions, or even completely taking over the assignment for fear that my five-year-old, amateur craftsmanship might reflect poorly on her parenting in some way.

Y’all. When did that become a thing?

For clarification, that young man coloring is *NOT* me.

For clarification, that young man coloring is *NOT* me.

I get it, I do. Elementary schools seem to have a theme-based, cutesy-crafty activity pretty much every week. But you know who those are meant for? The students. Yep. I know it may be a tough pill to swallow, but those elementary activities are actually designed for the elementary-aged students; thus, the expectations for their performance is adjusted accordingly. So that “Turkey in Disguise” activity? You don’t have to rush to Hobby Lobby to get teal felt or a Cricut in an effort to perfect that post-modernism look you’re going for. It’s a construction paper turkey. Relax.

I understand some of you may be having a miniature panic attack at the idea of not participating in activities meant for your children simply because they satisfy your desire to craft. Then what I’m about to say might just blow your minds, but here goes…

Your kids don’t have to participate in every activity. Of course they may want to, but that also means that it can be their responsibility.

The finished product: A "new olens" Saints player with cotton-ball cleats

The finished product: A “New Olens” Saints player with cotton-ball cleats

Yes, you read that correctly. I can personally admit to neglecting at least two creative dress-up days so far this school year–one was about wacky hats in an effort to fight the war against drugs (???) and the other was “wear this color for this cause” something-or-other. I had reminded my oldest about the hat day while not-so-subtly suggesting that he pick his Boy Scouts hat (we spent enough money on it that he should be wearing it to bed), but really it was his activity and his responsibility. I certainly wasn’t going to try to Martha Stewart anything (and let’s face it — I couldn’t even if I wanted to), but he forgot about it the next day. Oh, well. C’est la vie, kid. If you’re really that upset that other kids are wearing hats, then I’ll bet you’ll remember next time.

Then came Polka-dot day. Again, my Type A oldest son, ever the sucker, started excitedly announcing the upcoming dress-up day the minute he got into the van in the carpool line: “MOM!! NEXTWEEKISADRESSUPDAYANDWEHAVETOWEARPOLKADOTS! DOIHAVEANYPOLKADOTSHIRTS?!” After what seemed like taking him down with a tranquilizer dart to the neck, I was ultimately able to discern that there’s a story with a sweet moral featuring dots. And because of that, schools everywhere let their students wear dots to reinforce its message. 

Now as an English teacher, I’m all about whatever gimmick gets kids excited about literacy, especially the kind that teaches an important lesson. But as a mom of a boy looking for anything slightly resembling polka-dots, I was throwing in the towel. This one’s on you, kid. After he scoured the closet, he decided to make his own dotted shirt. Fine by me! You know where the markers are. 

Why, yes--those are washable markers.

Why, yes–those are washable markers.

I’ve only got a few years into this crafty activity game, but these are some of the rules I’ve made up along the way and insist on playing by:

  1. I’m not buying anything meant specifically to be worn for a single day.
  2. I’m not reserving space in my brain to stress over remembering or planning for it.
  3. I’m not altering my life or my almighty Routine in any way to make it happen. 
  4. I’m not overseeing it, and I DEFINITELY will never work on it by myself. No, sir. Not happening. In fact, I actively avoid helping if I can.
  5. I’m not having any guilt or some ridiculous notion that it somehow reflects on my parenting. I’ve got plenty other school-based activities that reflect my parenting poorly to worry about (see below). 
    According to my crafty son, we went to "Vagina" on our family vacation. ("At night," even) Judge away.

    According to my crafty son, we went to “Vagina” on our family vacation. (“At night,” even) Judge away.

Sorry, kids. I did my time. I’ve finished all those assignments, and I’m never going back. Good luck, and be sure to clean up after yourselves when you’re done. 

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