Let’s get crafty

Tuesday was Day One of implementing our summer survival routine. When my oldest got up (he’s an early bird…), I reminded him of the schedule
and asked him to go look at what we were going to do that day. Meanwhile, I reluctantly drug myself out of bed (I’m more of an owl…) and headed to the bathroom. He found me brushing my teeth and started shouting, “It’s Library Day! It’s Library Day!”

I’ve designated one day a week for Library Day (which happens to coincide with our local branch’s weekly story time). We are Library People. I
was raised by Library People and I am doing my best to raise little Library People. During the school year, I found that I didn’t go as often as I would have liked — we averaged about twice a month. But that was the best I could do with our busy school schedule. Now that we don’t have the pull of school on us, I’m going to use every Tuesday for Library Day.

I’d like to say that my son’s excitement for the Library is due to his early passion for books, but honestly he just can’t get over how many amazing FREE MOVIES there are to rent! It’s like his own little DVD heaven. And I’ve resigned myself to the fact that the only reason he even wants to go to the Library is so he can get as many movies about trains, trucks and cars as he can possibly hold in his little hands. And that’s okay with me. At least it gets us in the door without so much as a whine.

But before the Library could open, I still had three hours to spend keeping them entertained. We went through our normal routine — breakfast, devotions, cleaning up dishes, some playtime and a show. When the show was over I happily turned off the TV and announced, “Let’s do a craft!” You should have seen the lack of enthusiasm on their little faces. My announcement was followed by some begging (me), whining (them), pleading
(me), refusing (them), before we finally (albeit reluctantly), made it to the kitchen table where everything was set out and ready to go.

Earlier that morning, I dug through the recycle bins and found an empty cereal box. I cut out the front and back panels and drew the outline of a
dinosaur on them. Then I got out a roll of butcher paper, paints, brushes and plastic cups for water.

We were endeavoring to make a “Spiky Stegosaurus,” using their hand prints as the spikes along the dinosaur’s spine. This is a good time to mention that my oldest detests having stuff on his hands. Originally I was going to paint their palms and have them do impressions on the butcher paper, but I knew he’d never, ever stand for that. So I compromised and instead traced their hand prints on the paper.

We made four hand prints per boy and then they painted their individual prints. Once those were done, I gave them the dinosaur cereal box
pictures to paint. By this point, my oldest was actually having fun. I knew it when he wanted to show me how he’d chosen to paint the dino’s legs, “Dark pink, light pink, dark pink, light pink….See Momma, it’s a pattern!” (He learned about patterns in school this year and cannot stop pointing them out or making up his own. I love it.)

While he was happily painting his Stegosaurus, my youngest was losing interest after just a few brush strokes on his dinosaur. He’d done a good job filling in the hand prints, but was ready to stop painting and do something else. He kept handing me the brush saying, “Momma, paint a zebra. Momma, paint Daddy. Momma, paint Papa.” Anything other than having to do the painting himself. I ended up helping him fill in the rest, but not before he managed to spill his cup of yucky, dirty paint water all over the table and half his dinosaur.  Thank God for ShamWow towels, is all I can
say. (Yes, that sounded like an infomercial, but they really do work!)

I hung the pictures up to dry in the laundry room and we headed out the door for the library. (Tip: I often clip my kids’ wet, gluey artwork to a hanging lingerie dryer. It works great.)

We had a great visit at the library. I told the boys in the parking lot they could get four movies – two for the oldest, two for the youngest. We also got some new books. (One of my favorites is Truck Driver Tom by Monica Wellington. Wonderful, detailed artwork, complete with a surprise “I Spy” game in the back. Perfect for the little auto-lover in your life!)

After the library, we went home, had lunch and then it was time to assemble our Stegosaurus. I cut out all the pieces for my youngest and then had
him glue them on the dinosaur. It looked great. He was happy. I was happy.

Not so much the case with my oldest. Part of my purpose in doing crafts this summer is to help improve his fine motor skills, specifically his cutting skills. He HATES using scissors. They feel awkward, clumsy, he doesn’t remember how to hold them correctly, and he gets very frustrated when using them. Honestly, I don’t blame him. If you just sit and think about it, scissors are weird, but he has to be more competent with them, especially before starting kindergarten. “He needs to improve his scissor skills,” has been a running comment from his teachers for the last two years, so I know I need to step up and give him more opportunities to work on it.

It’s just that every time we try, it’s a massive battle. He easily quits and doesn’t like me trying to help him. But, since the dinosaur craft was my “bright idea,” I really wanted him to complete it (ugh, why did I decide to do this??).

He started cutting out the hand prints and after getting around one of his thumbs, when he was turning the paper to go up to the first finger, he got frustrated and said, “I can’t do this!”

In comes “Coach Mom” with her pep talk. “Sure you can, honey. You can do this. You’re doing a great job. Just think how great it’s going to look
when it’s all done!” No matter what I said, it wasn’t working.

I realized this wasn’t going the way I’d dreamed it would (I should’ve known better….), so I had a little counseling session with myself (in my head, of course). It went something like this: “How important is it for him to do all the cutting? Isn’t it more important to build his emotional self-confidence and his physical self-confidence? Quit trying to get him to do it your way, and find a way to help him and make him happy.”  (In retrospect, I highly doubt I was so eloquent in my own mind. It was probably more like, “Get over it, Leslee. This isn’t going to happen like you thought. So do what you can to avoid a tantrum at all costs.”)

I suggested that he pick one of the four hands to cut out, and I would do the rest (baby steps, right?). That seemed to do the trick. He still had a pouty lip for the remainder of the project, but we got it done and he even managed a smile for the camera.

Was I worn out from trying our first at-home craft? You betcha. Was I rethinking my grand plans for the summer after only one day? You betcha. Was I happy we were finished? You betcha.

The most hilarious part of the whole experience was later that night. He was talking to my mom on the phone and was recounting his day. He told her all about going to the library and making the Stegosaurus. His version went something like this:

“Well first, I drew a dinosaur on an Apple Jacks box. Then I painted it. Mommy traced my hands on some paper and I painted that, too. Then
we let them try while we were at the library. Then I cut it all out and I glued the hands on the dinosaur’s back, like spikes. It was really cool.”

In other words, he said in five sentences what took me all day to complete.  What can I say? At least the experience hadn’t permanently scarred him (although a tiny, lazy part of me kind of wished it had….).

So that was how we got crafty on Day One.

Only 83 more to go….(sigh)


Leslee, the SurvivorMom