This week, my 5-year-old, Drew, and I sat down to do arts and crafts (which he calls “arts and craps,” and I’ll never correct him because it pretty much sums up how I feel about doing this type of activity). He wanted to make a snowman, but since we’ve already done eleventy-billion snowmen this season, I suggested a Valentine’s craft.
“Let’s draw and cut out a big heart,” I said. “Then we can decorate it.” Not exactly Martha Stewart-worthy, but he doesn’t know that. He’s only 5-years-old.
“Okaaaaay,” he said slowly, and picked up the marker I gave him.
“Just try to make the heart big enough so that we can cut it out and have enough room to decorate,” I added.
“Mmhmm,” he nodded, with his tongue starting to stick out from his concentration on the task at hand.
What he produced on the construction paper looked more like an old person’s saggy ass than a heart.
“Oh, honey, do you not know how to draw a heart? Here, let me teach you” (famous last words).
I tried drawing the dashed lines so he could connect the dashes. I tried guiding his hand, over and over, as he made the shape of the heart. I tried drawing the heart for him and having him trace over it. Twenty minutes, 30 failed hearts, and 10 pieces of paper later, I started hearing the voices—you know the voices, all the different Mom Voices that start talking at the same time when you are attempting to teach your kid something new and failing miserably?
Like the Mean Mom voice: The Mean Mom was yelling, “Oh, for fuck’s sake! Why can’t this kid get it? He’s failing arts and craps!”
And the Guilty Mom voice: She was wringing her hands and muttering, “It’s all my fault. I’m failing at motherhood. I should be drawing with him more. I’m not doing enough. I’m not being enough.”
The Tired Mom was about to face-plant from the exertion of adding a fruitless heart-drawing activity to her already busy day, and could just barely be heard when she whispered, “Can’t we just give up and watch TV?”
The Cheerleader Mom was doing backflips, sticking the landings, and abruptly barking, “If you can’t do it, no one can!”
The Lushy Mom (who also goes by Chardonnay-nay) was looking at her watch and asking, “Is it too early for a glass of wine?”
The Melodramatic Mom was bawling, poking her eyes out with the markers, trying to slit her wrists with construction paper, and wailing, “I’m worthless! I can’t even teach my freaking kid to draw a heart! Death by a thousand paper cuts!”
The Blamer Mom was pointing fingers like she was on Law & Order and thundering, “What are those kindergarten teachers good for, for Chrissakes?”
Finally, the Think-Outside-the-Box Mom spoke up after listening to all the others, and said to her 5-year-old son, “Why don’t you try writing an uppercase ‘V?’ There you go. And now, make two mountains at the top of the ‘V.’ Yes. Yes! You did it baby! You drew a heart!”
And he did do it. Drew drew a heart. He was too exhausted from the effort, however, to do the rest of the craft. And I was relieved. I was already late for my date with Chardonnay-nay.