Monday, February 23, 2009

I'm Crafty, Dammit!

Like every other adult human being on earth, I recently listed "25 Random Things About Me" in a note on Facebook. And for those three people who haven't yet joined Facebook and can't see that link, I'll share that #24 was "I am completely craft-impaired and get anxious in craft stores. Which partially fuels #17." (#17 being: "I always worry that I'm not creative or patient enough as a mother.")

I can't fully explain my anxiety about craft stores, except to say that it has something to do with endless possibilities. I walk into a craft store and feel completely overwhelmed and ill at ease. I feel like there's a whole universe of craftiness for which I'm missing the decoder ring. I immediately wonder how people know what you're supposed to do with all those materials. Artificial fruit? Glue guns? Styrofoam forms? Little tin watering cans? And don't even get me started on the scrapbook aisle, for which I require almost an entire bottle of Xanax.

I don't like the idea that when it comes to crafts, you can pretty much do whatever you want -- that the very essence of being crafty is that you blaze your own creative trail. Not so much for me. I like activities that have a carefully proscribed beginning, middle and end and precise rules to follow. Not surprisingly, I can only write non-fiction, my former agent's constant insistence that I should try my hand at young adult novels notwithstanding. Making it up just plain scares me.

For nearly 36 perfectly good years, this failing had few real world implications. Yes, yes, I might have saved some money on my wedding if I could have made my own sugared fruit and topiary place card holders, but... whatever. Being un-crafty, however, turns out to make you feel seriously disadvantaged as a mother. The crafty moms are like the popular cheerleaders or the go-getter student government presidents; I'm like the maternal equivalent of an unmotivated burnout. (Do kids still get called burnouts, btw, or am I hopelessly dating myself?)

I look longingly at blogs like No Time for Flashcards or Nie-Nie in the pre-accident days (just look at this interview Cookie magazine did with her about how she decorated her impossibly adorable home) or my uber-crafty friend Vicki's, and picture myself charming my kids with my ability to turn popsicle sticks and cotton balls into a 3-D recreation of the Taj Mahal. Or maybe it's not even their craftiness I covet per se, but rather the idea that the craftiness is emblematic of a more energetic, creative parenting style than mine. I often feel like a mother with -- to quote Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd --"limited wind." Do crafty moms ever feel the urge to plop the kids in front of Caillou and play a few rounds of Scramble just to relax? Not that I've, um, ever done that, of course. I'm just wondering.

My own children, on the other hand, don't do much with popsicle sticks except eat Popsicles. They like to jump on the couch a lot and watch what I'm sure is too much television. Can't you just see the IQ points leaching out of their brains? And no, I have no idea why Ethan has no shirt on.

One of my very first posts to this blog was about making 2009 extraordinary, right? So I wanted it documented that the A. boys did in fact do a craft project. Alert the media.

I got the idea for apple painting from No Time for Flashcards. It seemed like a good baby step, something I could master on limited craft wind. I know how to cut an apple in half! I can pour paint on a paper plate! Woo-hooo!

Alec immediately showed no interest whatsoever -- he actually cried upon being handed the apple -- and instead practiced banging chalk on the table.

Ethan, on the other hand, was way into it.

Next time I'll actually read the directions, which say that you can only use a thin layer of paint or it doesn't work, but this was our finished product.

I came. I saw. I crafted, dammit. Now what?


  1. I love it! I'm sensing a collaborative project in our future...

  2. Fun colors! I'm so proud of you--nothing like tackling a phobia so early in the year to get '09 off to a good start.

  3. Too funny. I can totally relate - especially having had a very crafty, creative mother! Sometimes the apple rolls really far away. I'll have to check out that "No Time for Flashcards" blog.

  4. Cara? My mother was a KINDERGARTEN TEACHER. 'Nuff said. ;-)

  5. I'm just amazed that you let him do apple stamps in what is clearly a nice sweater. I'm hardly fastidious, but when it comes to wet paint, my kid has to be covered like a biohazard clean-up team member before I'll get involved with it. (Which is odd because I'll let him play in mud outside without getting worried.) Fortunately he is off painting and now draws and writes his own comics while I unsupportively worry about marker on the rug. This mom thing does not always bring out the best in us....

  6. Let's just say we're once again separated at birth.

    I haven't done crafts since I maimed myself with a pipe cleaner in '92.