With open house on the horizon, the teachers were doubling up on us. But we were prepared.
February is the month for elementary school “do-it-at-home” projects. The child dreams up a creative idea and then hopes his parents are talented enough to help him implement it.
When our son first came home from kindergarten with a homework sheet titled “The First 100 Days of School Project,” our parental enthusiasm was touching.
Since I have not one ounce of craftsy inclination, I immediately suggested the assignment as a perfect father-son project. My husband agreed. He and our son, who was 5 at the time, studied the directions together intently before he made an announcement: “I think we are going to need a hot glue gun.” The boy nodded.
I looked at them with a blank expression. Leave it to boys to require special tools.
“What on earth for?” I asked.
“To hot glue stuff to the cardboard,” he said.
Skeptical, I imagined them with their hands hot-glued to the kitchen table, the dog or the baby.
“I’m not sure about this,” I said. He assured me it would be fine, and then he proceeded — on his own — to stop by a crafts store the next night, pick up a hot glue gun and assorted other materials and return home triumphantly to begin.
Hours later, the two of them showed off their project: a well-glued, color-coordinated mosaic of a house in the woods made out of decorating glass.
Later on, we surveyed all the class projects exclaiming over the sheer innovation the students (and their parents) exhibited. Little did we realize the bar was being set.
This January, our now third-grade son brought home a 3-D geometric shapes project while our daughter announced her “100 Day” kindergarten assignment. With open house on the horizon, the teachers were doubling up on us, but we were prepared.
Unlike our first-born, our daughter ate sugary cereal from the time she could whine for Honey Nut Cheerios instead of plain. This worked to our advantage on the “100 Day” project. I suggested in a nonchalant manner that she consider doing her project with different colored Froot Loops.
“Can I eat the leftovers?” she negotiated.
“Absolutely.” Unfortunately, her roller coaster idea, ala Disney World, didn’t work out so she went to a snowman motif instead. One hundred pieces of cereal and a little Elmer’s glue later, her project was completed. A little clichéd, but cute nonetheless.
Meanwhile for his homework, her big brother envisioned a rocket made out of spray painted building blocks, a Tinker Toys cylinder covered in foil topped by a plastic soda cup and a pencil glued to the top of a foam sphere. “U.S.A.” lettering and space stickers provided the final touches.
He and his dad spent several evenings putting together the rocket with copious amounts of hot glue and concentration.
On deadline day, we escorted the boy and his rocket to school instead of risking a bus ride. For once, the kids got into the car without wrestling for position. They sat perfectly still while my husband carefully maneuvered the rocket into the car.
Unfortunately, he misjudged the length of the pencil and it scraped perilously against the van’s ceiling.
“Dad!” the kids shouted while I winced. “It’s OK. It’s OK,” he said, trying again.
A little wiggly but intact, the project arrived at school on time.
My husband returned to the car.
“There are some cool projects in there,” he said. “I just hope the rocket passes her shake-test.” He paused. “Maybe you could pop in later while they are at gym and add some more glue. … ”
Julie Kaiser is a freelance writer and columnist. Her column runs every other week.