CHENNAI: It’s Friday afternoon and I open my son’s diary to do a quick check for messages. As I read the white slip stapled to the page my upper lip beads with sweat and a dull throbbing pain begins to beat against my temples. “As the children of K1 are learning about the environment we would like you to help your child make something out of recycled materials to bring to school next week.”
School Projects. The two words strike fear in my heart. Drawing, sticking, colouring inside the lines and generally making things are not my forte. If I had had to manually put my babies together instead of allowing Mother Nature to do it for me, they would have come out looking like one of Picasso’s women — both eyes on one side, crooked nose and skewed mouth.
I’m not one of those mothers who create pinterest boards where they proudly display their 20 ideas for a Transformers Themed Birthday party (make your own Origami Transformers that turn from serene crane in to an enemy crushing robot as a give away!) Nor can I fashion a desk organiser from left over loo rolls and washi tape.
I recently made posters for the school fun fair. My artistic sister who was in town made one. Her’s was gorgeous: lovely lettering, sweet outline illustrations. Perfection. Mine had a clever line written in wonky bubble letters.
When I put them up at school, there was praise for my sister’s poster and then people looked at mine and said ‘Awwww you got your son to make one for you.’ Guess which one I took credit for?
So, back to the recycling project. “Why don’t you take some of the compost from our Kambha?” I suggested to my 4-year-old “That’s recycled food.”
“I want to make a paper mache dinosaur. I want to make a person out of wire, feathers and soap. No. I want to make a real Death Star.”
I summoned the dictator that sleeps within. “We are making a piggy bank out of an old plastic bottle.”
It seems easy enough. Cut a bottle in half, make a slit at the top, super glue ears and googley eyes, add a tail and used rolled up paper to make the feet. Half an hour tops. Right? Right? Wrong.
After painting half the pig, my son decided pigs were stupid and that he wanted a dinosaur. So we repainted. We were further slowed down by many doubts “Are we making a person? What is this? I DON’T WANT TO MAKE THIS. Lets make a person. You make this. I’m making a Death Star.”
After a lot of begging (me) and crying (me again) and blackmailing (him)we decided that dinosaur piggy banks were the bomb.
When everything had finally been stuck on and dried the damn thing wouldn’t stand up. Why?
Because I had glued the feet on opposite sides of the bottle. “So, what will you say when you take this to school. Remember I only helped. YOU made it.”
“I DIDN’t make this. It’s awful. You made it. I’m telling Ma’am this is all your fault.” Everyone’s a critic. I should have just stuck with the bag of compost.
(The writer is a former copywriter whose parenting philosophy is: if there’s no blood, don’t call me)