When we finally unpacked the last of the playroom boxes, we stumbled upon a birdhouse. A birdhouse we could build and paint, and for the next two hours my daughter wore her painting smock and smiled a lot until I agreed to open the box with the large letters promising a tired parent: EASY TO FOLLOW DIRECTIONS!
Or no directions, a pile of wood with tiny, slightly-not-lined-up-with-the-holes pegs and paint.
My craft-loving daughter would not be deterred so I started to put the pieces together in what I assumed is a typical upwardly-mobile, prefab bird home while she glued until we hit the roof. Then I did what every adoring family does in times of crisis: I attempted to lure my husband in with learned helplessness.”I’m not sure if this fits.”
“Oh, you’re doing great honey,” he replied as he skipped away to do whatever non-gluey, painty thing was down the hall. He yelled over his shoulder before disappearing into adulthood, “Oh and the roof is upside down.”
Normally, I don’t really mind craft-out-of-box because they are often more reasonable than online people who suggest I cut my own wood and put a papier-mÃ¢chÃ© nest inside with my daughter’s name spelled out in birds that she can crack open in 30 years to remember how much I love her, but I needed to shower and be out the door in less than an hour and I was a construction crew of one plus two eyes looking concerned at my progress.
I rearranged the roof and managed to mash the bird home together with my incredible chicken-arm strength. My daughter pulled out two brushes, and we began to paint, which mostly consisted of me being told my flowers looked like cactuses. “Maybe paint over here, Mama.” And did not consist of “Maybe go take a shower, Mama.”
But eventually, my daughter decided we were done. We left the house to dry as I ran off to get ready and my daughter painted other miscellaneous objects including her hair.
But when I came back into the playroom, it was Huckle who was perfecting his innocent smiling.
I thought we were building a four-bedroom, two-car-garage, birdhouse with decent schools and a longer commute to work; instead, we built the Bates Motel or possibly Leatherface’s home. And I’m pretty sure those missing directions were due to an Ã©lite bird reconnaissance mission when they realized this craft was brought into a home of four cats whose owner hates birds. Well, they clearly misjudged my guilt-driven, craft prowess, but all my cats are indoor-only now so the birds will have to murder themselves anyway.
PS. Of course, this isn’t the first time arts and crafts have gone very wrong for us. Remember when my son brought home the anatomically correct guitar? It takes talent to get it wrongly right so often.