I work with several recreational groups for children. I am great arranging games, doing social skills activities, helping them cook simple meals, go out to the movies, bowling and other such activities. The one area where I am terrible is in doing crafts.
For an October program, we had a great day; went to a corn maze, picked pumpkins, made pizzas for lunch and then…decorated pumpkins. What could go wrong with that, you ask? Well, I was in charge of it, which was the first mistake. The second mistake was in lieu of having the children of various ages and disabilities use a knife to cut into it, I chose to have them decorate the outside. Not with just stickers…no, THAT would have been too easy! We were using large google eyes, yarn for hair and fake “gems’ for the smile. Very tactile. Lots of bling. Lots of glue. Lots of the WRONG glue…the yarn hair drooped into the eyes, which drooped down towards the mouth, which also drooped down into a frown. They were very sad looking, in more ways than one. I excitedly told them to tell their parents they created a melting pumpkin face. They were thrilled they were so clever. I was mortified the glue did not hold the items in their designated places.
I had another glue mishap a while ago. I used jars of baby food and the kiddos glued an icon into the jar top; Mickey Mouse, Spiderman, Disney princesses, and the Littlest Mermaid. While it dried, they added water colored a light blue, and then half of a jar of sparkles. We were making snow globes, of course. However, when they tightly screwed the top to the bottom, the icons simply drifted off into the water. I had used the wrong glue AGAIN, not water proof. The little icons were freely floating in the sparkly water. They could understand why they Littlest Mermaid was swimming, and Spidey could have been flowing through the water to save someone, but poor Minnie and Mickey were just plain drowning!
My last craft humiliation also contained water. A few weeks ago I had the kiddos make Thanksgiving centerpieces using real flowers in a beautiful bowl. I’m no slouch when it comes to common sense, so I knew enough to purchase those green hard spongy things in which the kids could stick the flower stems. First,they glued colored (fake) leaves on the outside of the bowls. Then they started sticking the flowers in one by one. We followed a basic pattern, a tall, bushy yellow one on top, assorted yellow and orange ones arranged downward, and plenty of greens to finish it off. They put it in the bowl and we filled it with water. They all looked WONDERFUL. I was so proud of my students and their creations,which they showed to their parents when they picked them up. We all know that moms and dads are famous for “ooooowwwwing” and “aaaawwwwing” over each and every creation their child makes, but I knew for sure these were the real thing.
After the students left, I went back to look at the flower arrangement I had done as a sample. The flowers were listing to the side. Curious because they were stuck safely into that green hard spongy thing which should have held them straight…IF IT HAD BEEN GLUED PROPERLY TO THE BOTTOM OF THE BOWL! GLUE!!!!! Why hadn’t I known that it would FLOAT if not glued down? Horror visions of the kiddos flowers floating on their side, sitting on their Thanksgiving tables filled my head. Oh, NO! I am staying away from glue and water crafts from now on!
For any new readers, I am attaching the review of my book by Readers Digest:
What to Read After a Hurricane
by Dawn Raffel
Shortly before Hurricane Sandy came to my town, flooding my house and knocking out the power (which is still out), I had the good fortune to download The Apple Tree: Raising 5 Kids With Disabilities and Remaining Sane by Linda Petersen.
Her story begins not with her children but with her own childhood spent traveling the country in the backseat of her parents’ car (her perpetually restless dad had post-traumatic stress disorder from WWII), often with very little money and few provisions. Where someone else might have seen deprivation and isolation, Petersen viewed her unusual childhood with a sense of wonder and gratitude. After marrying young and giving birth to a son who was legally blind (and who went on to earn a PhD on full scholarship), Petersen and her husband adopted four more special needs children and fostered many others.
Her honesty, wit, and terrific storytelling make this a book you want to read rather than one you feel you should read. So there I was, swiping pages on an iPad in the dark in a blackout… I couldn’t have picked a better book for putting it all in perspective.