The other day I read something that shook me to my core, challenging everything I'd believed since the time I was a fetus. I was reading an article when I came across the phrase "DIY and crafting." Not "DIY or crafting," as in the words are interchangeable, but "and" as in they are two separate and discrete activities.
Deep down I suppose I always knew they were separate things. I seem to recall hearing that some people make their own deodorant, for instance. I suppose that would not be considered a craft in the same way that gluing dry elbow macaroni to corrugated cardboard to form something you tell others is a boat but really looks nothing like one is. But then people get up to all kinds of stuff in the name of fun, or personal health or political protest. I have no patience for any of those things, fun most of all.
Full disclosure: pipe cleaners hold a certain allure for me. In art class, as a child, while my peers were busy bending pipe cleaners into halos for their papier-mache angels (Catholic school), I balanced them between my nose and my upper lip to create multi-hued mustaches.
What does all this have to do with Zoe? you ask. Well, as far as I can tell, Zoe does not object to crafting as a way of life, but there have been certain creations that have revealed a heart of darkness at their center.
|Decoupage of the damned|
On weekends, I sometimes give her Play-doh or construction paper and crayons, but never glue or glitter or, heaven forfend, scissors. So for the most part, her crafting is confined to day care, meaning other people, thankfully, are responsible for doing this stuff with her.
Early on, when I knew there was little chance Zoe had contributed to the creation of these
abominations artistic endeavors, except maybe via a slash of crayon or a sample of dried snot, I was tempted to hand the items back to her obviously hardworking, craft-loving teacher and say, "Maybe this is something to put on your mommy's refrigerator."
Each day Zoe would come home with cutouts of numbers or letters sloppily colored in. "Art" ranging from endless sheets of paper covered in mad scribblings to advanced holiday-themed projects like a deformed turkey for Thanksgiving (Zoe's hand print with Popsicle sticks glued to it).
One recent project required her classmates to decorate paper plates to look like their faces, using googly eyes, crayons, and paper cutouts. I walked in the room that day to confront sixteen paper-plate faces looking at me, like self-portraits of the mentally deranged. When I spotted Zoe's I was overcome with nausea and had to look away. Had my eyes deceived me? Had she used yellow Post-its for hair? The horror . . . The Horror.
|The horror . . . of scrapbooking|
I have an unhealthy relationship with Post-its. They are for lists, not art. Though the list itself may be art. Or it would also be acceptable to list art supplies. But the idea that they'd been used---wasted!---for such a disposable project made my heart stop. After steeling myself I drew closer and saw the "hair" was yellow construction paper. The pain in my chest eased and I could breathe again.
Another project in particular that I recall, if only because I did not immediately throw it away, was the Angel Box. The Angel Box is a box shaped like a treasure chest that Zoe painted yellow. It has her picture taped to the top of it. In the picture she has a serene expression on her face, one a perfectly lovely and innocent child might have, one I've never actually seen on her face when her eyes were open.
The Angel Box, the teacher told me when I picked Zoe up from school, was filled with slips of paper (not Post-its, because they are sticky, and also, I assume, because using them would be morally reprehensible) listing her good deeds, like cleaning up after herself or saying "please" and "thank you" without being prompted.
You don't have to be clairvoyant to see where this is going.