School Projects = Parent Projects (Let’s Be Real)

Having a sick kid at home gives me the chance to catch up here. It is probably better than feeding parental paranoia that has me on the internet looking up Ebola, enteroviruses, and last night’s newest discovery, Periodic Fever Syndrome.

Connor’s first grade class celebrated the annual New Mexico state fair by holding different fair-related things in school. For example, one day the kids had to bring in something to exhibit (a favorite collection, a baked good, a craft, etc.). Connor at first wanted to bring in his bottle cap collection. However, seeing that all his caps were from Daddy’s cold brews, I gently suggested he choose something more kid-appropriate. He happily brought in one of many Lego creations.

The biggest project was that they had to make a state fair ride. The instructions were given at least a week or two in advance, but of course I found myself two days beforehand remembering that this massive project was due. In my defense, we had my entire side of the family visiting during that time. Connor had wanted to make something out of marshmallows but being an unprepared, slacker mom, I had none in the house. I put on my best MacGyver thinking cap (minus the mullet) and miraculously came up with an idea using materials we already had in the house. What do we have an endless supply of in the Beckett home (besides beer bottle caps)? Wine corks!

My sister-in-law who was one of the family visiting us during this time was a former national officer of the FFA (Future Farmers of America). State fairs are her thing, and my brother mentioned in passing that they made sure to participate in our state fair here the right way (all the things having to do with agriculture) versus the wrong way (rickety rides that can detract people from the true purpose). Oops. I guess the Beckett family had been doing it the wrong way. Somehow thinking of what to do with an abundance of wine corks and trying to focus on the agricultural aspect combined in my mullet-less MacGyver mind as …. a pony ride!

During this family visit, my Mom was here and performed reparative surgery on Connor’s precious stuffed dinosaur, Baby. Baby had 3 gaping holes that threatened to make him flat as a pancake if all the stuffing escaped. I found a neglected sewing kit in the dark recesses of my closet that I had used that one time I replaced a button back in the Victorian Age. The boys wisely suggested I let Grandma handle the sewing. In other words, they did not trust their beloved stuffed animal in Mama’s incapable hands. MacGyver Mama did remember that there were unused pins in that dusty kit whose likelihood to be used in their intended way had worse odds than the Cubs winning the World Series. What better way to save them from such a wasted fate than make them into pony legs!

Behold: a sewing kit in my house!

Behold: a sewing kit in my house!

Grandma performing sewing surgery on Baby.

Grandma performing surgery on Baby.

My Easter dinner fiasco of 2013 did leave me with a lifetime (for someone like me) supply of kitchen twine that would be perfect for connecting the ponies to the center cork stand. A random handful of paper clips and twisty ties helped make the heads and tails. The lid from a take out container was rescued from our recycling pile to be the top cover with the help of some red construction paper from our art scraps. Cardboard from a box from Costco would be the bottom. After piecing together one sample pony, I showed Connor. He was game, and we went for it. He put it together and was satisfied with his very homemade-looking project. It would never make it on Pinterest in a million years, but for this non-crafty mom, I felt like how MacGyver did after saving lives by diffusing a bomb with only a paper clip: miraculous!


How does it work? “A guy screams go and they go.”

Our upcycled project somehow managed to make it to the exhibit time but then shortly after crumbled to the pile of scraps it was meant to be. Just like that our glorious (precarious) creation was demolished in a split second probably when someone sneezed in its general direction. It just made me glad that we did not spend two weeks poking toothpicks into marshmallows to make a magnificent structure worthy of the front page of Parenting magazine. I am also even more impressed with the kids whose fellow homemade-looking projects were truly their own.  The minds of some 6 and 7 year olds put my MacGyver mind to shame! In that sense, these projects are definitely worth the extreme anxiety attacks they induce in Mamas like me. Now we know why there is an endless supply of corks here: school project assignments!

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