Thursday, October 25, 2012

Pride in the Oddest Things

Being a parent presents the oddest challenges. When I was expecting my first child, I knew about the upcoming diaper changes, the feeding, the crying (his and mine), and the sleepless nights. I failed to contemplate the mundane challenges, like rectal thermometers and nail clippers. Seriously, I had no idea how often I'd need to trim another human's fingernails, and I'm still waiting to find out when this ceases to be my responsibility.

I knew that, as my kids grew, I'd be hauling them to extracurricular activities, and I probably had some inkling that I'd be suckered into volunteering my time and baking talent. What I didn't see coming were the odder requests. What I really didn't see coming was my satisfaction and, dare I say, pride in accomplishing these unexpected tasks.

Last week, two of my most shining parenting moments involved a LEGO minifigure and glitter paint, respectively. This is the stuff I did not foresee.

Let's start with the spray paint. My daughter has the title role in next week's ages 3-6 production of Pinocchio. She takes this very seriously. Much time has been spent drilling lines and creating a costume, all for a performance that will stretch ten minutes beginning to end. It can be a little much, but I admire her enthusiasm and desire to get everything "just right," so I try to satisfy her costume demands to the best of my ability (which is not much). A growing nose was a real stumper.

I solicited help online from crafty friends, and I Googled. This research led me to various community theater sites detailing their attempts and failures to create a nose that would grow onstage. Not so useful. While perusing a friend's blog about keeping a bedskirt in place with Velcro, I had a craft epiphany. ("Craft epiphany" was also not a concept or phrase I ever anticipated.) Maybe I could attach a small nose to a mask, then have Pinocchio turn her back and attach a longer nose with Velcro when she lied. One cardboard cat-eye mask from Michaels, a toilet paper tube, a cereal box, and some hot glue, and we were in business. Couldn't be prouder of my creativity. To make Little Miss Fancy even happier, I spray-painted the whole shebang with gold spray paint and glitter spray paint. Pinocchio has some bling. Happy kindergartner, happy mom.

The minifigure project started as an assignment for my photography class. My original plan to photograph in the style of another photographer involved scouting a location, taking the photograph when the sun was in a certain position, and hoping I could do all this during school hours. Wasn't going to happen. So, I regrouped and decided to recreate a famous portrait using Little Miss Fancy in all her girliest dress-up gear--as Winston Churchill. Cracked myself up from the get-go with the idea and was tremendously pleased with the result.

However, my son is our budding artist, and he really wanted to be involved as well (who knew photography class was a family affair?). Enter LEGO Winston Churchill.

Yousuf Karsh's Winston Churchill portrait in LEGO

I handed my son a copy of Yousuf Karsh's famous portrait of Churchill, and he built the minifigure to match. Pretty great, huh?

Winston Churchill by Yousuf Karsh

I built a mini backdrop from an applesauce box, popsicle sticks and electrical tape, then did my best to recreate the lighting and camera angle of the original. My son and I were both tickled with the result.

There you have it. After four years at a private university and three years of graduate school, my headlining accomplishments now involve popsicle sticks and spray paint. I never saw it coming.

What surprising parenting feats have you accomplished lately?

If you're curious why I haven't posted the photo of my daughter as Churchill (which is fantastic, by the way), it is because I have decided not to include my children's names and photos on the blog. As far as I'm concerned, Facebook was designed expressly for sharing photos of my kids, and I do so on my personal account using the available privacy controls. This blog, however, can be viewed by anyone anywhere, and I just don't like the idea of sharing that information.

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