Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Lion Costume that Wasn't

There's nothing like your kid's school assignments to expose your own lack of abilities.

Ethan came home with the paper early last week. On Friday they were supposed to dress like their favorite character from a book. I thought about this. Ethan's not a huge independent reader, but we have been reading the Chronicles of Narnia and he's really enjoying them.

"What if you dressed up like Peter, the High King?" I asked. I envisioned cutting a sword and shield out of cardboard. Rudimentary, yes, but doable.

"Nooo...I want to be Aslan," Ethan insisted.

Aslan. The great lion. Drat.

"Are you sure?" I asked.

"Yes! We're not supposed to go buy anything," he said, obviously repeating his teacher's overtures.

Right. Because I have a lion costume just li-on around here (sorry, couldn't resist). I'm sure some parents do. The crafty ones. I'm sure they have felt and yarn and God-knows what else on hand. We didn't even have construction paper.

I Goggled "simple lion costume" and then almost fell off my chair. Ah, yes. The Pinterest world has taken the word "simple" to new heights. Or maybe it's just that I'm really, really challenged, artistically speaking.

Over the years since Anna's started school I've learned that a lot of these projects seem to put the parents' talents (or lack thereof) on display. It was no different when I was a kid. I'll never forget my mom staying up late, muttering all kind of bad words, to construct a model of a hurricane for my science project that was built from cotton balls, Styrofoam, and Popcicle sticks. (Thanks, mom). Sadly, there is that pressure to compete...and no one likes that feeling of knowing their kid is probably going to show up with the shoddiest costume.

But there's no way I was suddenly going to become talented or be able to run out and round up a lion costume. And anyway, "she said we don't have to wear anything," Ethan had added. "Or we can just tape it to our bodies."

Okay, that's more like it. I dug around again online and found a lion face craft that involved a paper plate and construction paper (even that we didn't have in the house). T-minus 24 hours to deadline.

The day ended up being crazy. My little nephew decided to be born that morning and I wanted to get up to the hospital to visit him later that day. That meant grocery shopping first (and grabbing some construction paper while there). Then it was Chloe's nap while I did some freelance work, lunch for her, the half-hour drive up to Springfield, and back not long before Ethan got off the bus. I was still furiously cutting strips of paper and gluing them to the plate when he came home.

"Look what I'm doing!" I exclaimed. He didn't appear impressed.

We had to momentarily leave the project to pick up Anna from drama. Then back home I attempted to cook dinner, keep an eye on Chloe, and finish gluing. Just before we had to sit down to dinner, I finished...

...and it looked awful. It looked like a preschool craft. It looked as if someone perhaps younger than a first grader had made it. I had essentially made a mask held up by a pencil. Instead of a lion, it looked like a sunburst.

"Ethan, it's Aslan!" I exclaimed, really wondering who I was kidding. He didn't say much of anything. I roared enthusiastically. Ethan didn't say anything.

Until the next morning, when we had about 20 minutes to get ready for school. "I just want a picture of a lion," he said. "Can you print one out and tape it to me? Maybe...I can wear the mask for Chloe's birthday party," he added. I appreciated his attempt to not hurt my feelings.


I was supposed to be making lunches, but I called up a lion coloring picture on the computer and printed it out. Furiously coloring and then cutting, I finished with just a few minutes to spare. Thank the Lord I found the one roll of tape that hadn't disappeared in our house and stuck the picture to his chest. Ethan smiled his approval.

I hope at school, they understand. I hope they know that I really do care, even if my son showed up at school not long ago with a shirt on inside-out. Even if he walked in recently without gloves when it was 10 degrees because he'd brought all of his gloves to school and left him in his locker.

I am trying. Really.

Even if you'd never know by the crumpled lion plastered on the front of his football shirt.

*On a side note, as I went to publish this blog post, Ethan saw the picture of the lion craft. His response? "That did not looking ANYTHING like Aslan!"

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