Friday, May 28, 2010


Depending on who you ask, there are several adjectives that a person might use to describe me, but one word that would never be used is "crafty." Sure, I can assemble furniture, wrap a gift, follow the directions included in most kits and usually color in the lines, but when it comes to creating something out of construction paper, glitter, glue, styrofoam or popsicle sticks, chances are that the results will not be very presentable.

Yesterday I volunteered at the kindergarten Letter Luau. This event consists of games like Musical Chairs, a snack station and a table where the kids could make their own leis, which is where I ended up. I'm still trying to figure out why I voluntarily put myself at this station because the only thing I hate more than doing crafts by myself is having to help a bunch of kids with crafts, but I think it's because I thought that the assembly would be five-year-old friendly and just require some simple stringing skills. I was wrong.

I opened up my bag of supplies to find pre-cut lengths of black yarn, construction paper flowers in two sizes, 1" lengths of drinking straws and a box of Fruit Loops. After glancing at these items for a total of two seconds and thinking "Oh shit," the first kids showed up at my table, eager to get started. This is when I started cursing the fact that there wasn't a pina colada station at this luau.

No one had punched any holes in the construction paper flowers, so while the kids sat there and whipped each other with the black yarn, I hurriedly started punching holes. Of course the little paper-catcher thingie on the hole puncher was busted off, so there were little bits of confetti-sized paper flying everywhere, making the kids shout out like they were in a parade. No sooner did they grab the first flower and straw when I heard someone say "Zoe's mommy, I need help." This phrase was repeated no fewer than 8,752 times over the next 45-minutes. We also quickly discovered that black yarn does not thread through eight out of ten Fruit Loops because the hole is too small, and instead just mashes and frays. And I now know that trying to thread black yarn that now resembles a fuzzy black hamster through a drinking straw is no easy feat, especially when that black fuzzball is soggy with spit because some gross kid has been sucking on it.

Since I was strongly discouraging the kids from using the Fruit Loops, I decided to just drop handfuls of them on the table and let the kids eat them instead. Suddenly, my table was really popular. Kids were shoving those things in their mouths by the handful and in addition to "I need help," I was now hearing "I need some more Fruit Loops." At one point, I stepped back to observe the chaos as if I wasn't directly involved and saw: kids licking their hands, licking the yarn, grabbing cereal, wiping their noses, rubbing their eyes, picking at their ears, sucking on the yarn, eating cereal off of the floor, and then asking me for help. This is when I decided that soap and water just wouldn't do -- I would have to just chop my hands off when I got home.

I suppose you're wondering how the craft turned out, and let's just say that I considered attaching an apology note to more than a couple dozen of the leis. A few of the girls that were actually excited about the concept of wearing paper flowers somehow managed to make a pretty presentable craft. But for the most part, the kids sat there for five minutes of threading-induced frustration and ended up with, honestly, something pathetic. Even the girls, who had patiently threaded straws and flowers one after the other to make a pattern threw their arms up in frustration when they held up their leis, only to have all of the flowers slide into a clump because the punched hole is just that much bigger than the diameter of the straw. One kid, after finally succeeding to thread two things only to have them slide right off the other end of the yarn proclaimed that "This craft sucks!" All I could do was look him in the eye and say yes, you're right. Here's some Fruit Loops.

Now, let's compare: we all know what a Hawaiian lei looks like, and in case you've forgotten it looks like this:

And here's how ours turned out:

I don't know about you, but looking at this thing does not put me in the mood for a luau. It does, however, put me in the mood for a pina colada.


Anonymous said...

maybe you were supposed to put the black yarn through the flower shaped hole in the middle instead of punching holes with the hole puncher? would make for a lame lei but it would have been easier for the kids. I think your's came out great.

Tara said...

I really enjoyed this post, and it describes exactly how I feel when I volunteer in my kids' classes! "So you just paint the kids' arms, lay them on the paper, and voilà you have a tree!". Sorry but did you see that most of the class is wearing long sleeves and my face will be on the PTA dartboard when these kids come home covered head to toe in paint, with only a smear on the paper? LOVE the piña colada station idea!!