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Jane Roper is the author of the memoir Double Time: How I Survived–and Mostly Thrived–Through the First Three Years of Mothering Twins and blogger at JaneRoper.com. Her writing has appeared on Babble, Salon, The Huffington Post, The Rumpus, and the upcoming anthology The Push: Birth Stories for the 21st Century. Jane lives in the Boston area with her husband and twin daughters.

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Do not do crafts with my daughter.

By Jane Roper |

Daddy totally ruined this.

This is a warning. If my daughter, Clio, asks you to help her with any sort of drawing / painting / other craft project, walk away. Don’t look back. Go. Don’t be taken in by her adorable button nose and big brown eyes, her impish smile or cute little helium voice and kooky diction. Seriously. Back the fuck away. You will thank me.

Why? Because if you agree to help her do something — say, draw a bird or make a circle or write “Clio’s bunny” under a picture of a bunny — you WILL NOT DO IT CORRECTLY. In fact, you will mess up in a major, terrible way. You will put it in the wrong place. You will make it the wrong size. It will not look like a bird. (Even though you warned her you really weren’t good at drawing birds.) Or, it will be facing the wrong way. She will insist that she told you to write “Clio’s silly bunny” when you know–you would bet your car on it– she never said the “silly” part.

And Clio will cry. And yell at you. And tell you you ruined her drawing. But it will be clear from her tone that what she actually means is that you ruined her life.

She will whimper at you to “erase it.” And if, by the grace of God, you were writing in pencil you’ll feel a surge of unbelievable relief and think, (or say), “I can fix this! I can fix this!” But no matter how well you erase there will still be some slight trace of what was there before. Not acceptable.

And if, on the other hand, you were using marker or crayon or glitter glue and you explain that you can’t erase it, you may still, actually, find yourself hunting down a pencil and trying to erase, just to prove that it’s not possible (while also, perhaps, vainly hoping that maybe, just maybe, it is…). And if you’re really really having a bad day, you’ll rip the paper while doing it.

You will have to start over. And you will fuck up again. And again, and again. You will never be good enough. Even your creative efforts to draw over the wrong-way-facing-bird so that it is, in fact, facing the other way, will be rebuffed, most likely. Because now you’ll have a big-ass bird and, oh yeah, WHERE IS ITS OTHER EYE? You forgot to draw its other eye!!!

You will explain that you can’t see the other eye, because it’s a profile view. You’ll have to demonstrate with your own face. (See? When you’re looking at my face from the side, you can only see one eye. No, I can see your other eye. OK, but only a tiny bit, right? Just the eyelashes. And birds’ heads are more….trust me. It’s there, you just can’t see it. Then draw it so you can see both eyes! But you told me to make the bird facing…No I didn’t!!!)

You will end up saying, “Listen, when you ask other people to help with art projects and drawings, they may not do things exactly the way you want. If you want your bird to look a certain way, you should try to draw it yourself.”

“But I don’t know how to draw a bird! You draw it! Please? And make it green. With a yellow eye. And make it flying, but looking at us, so you can see both eyes.”

(Heavy sigh) “Fine. Give me another piece of paper.”

“NO!!!!! THAT’S NOT A BIRD, THAT LOOKS LIKE A BAT!!”

“Fine! You know what? You draw the fucking bird. I’m done here.”

You won’t say that. But you will really, really want to.

Which is why, if Clio asks you to draw / paint / glue something, make up an excuse why you can’t. Carpal tunnel syndrome. A doctor appointment. A burning desire to watch Little Einsteins with her right now.

Or just walk away. Walk slowly, calmly away.

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About Jane Roper

janeroper

Jane Roper

Jane Roper is the author of the memoir Double Time: How I Survived–and Mostly Thrived–Through the First Three Years of Mothering Twins and blogger at JaneRoper.com. Jane lives in the Boston area with her husband and twin daughters.

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12 thoughts on “Do not do crafts with my daughter.

  1. Michele says:

    Thanks for the great laughs! I have one like that too, although I am lucky that she usually grabs the pencil away from me immediately after asking me to draw anything. This too shall pass…

  2. moooma21 says:

    Sounds like my 5 year old. We also no longer do crafts before or with her! Also, if she “writes” a story/book, do not, under any circumstances, agree to read it to her. Make her read it to you. Because you will not read it right (so far, the only things she knows how to write is her name, mom, dad, her sister and brothers names, and a few other words. She does know how to write all her letters, and so it is just random letters all over the place.)It will be completely wrong, she will be devastated. and you will hear about it for the next 6 weeks. And then, just when you think she’s forgotten, she’ll bring it up again at some random place-like the grocery store, or church, and start to cry again…

  3. Camilla says:

    I recommend you go buy a ream of card stock, and one of the pencil-shaped retractable erasers. I ration it out, but it’s so much nicer to work with than construction paper.

  4. Fremonter says:

    Oh good, mine is not the only one who does that…. :) Good luck!

  5. Lin Snow says:

    ahaha! This was excellent!

  6. Jenn V. says:

    Oh man, yeah. I remember that phase from my own youth…and my own siblings and cousins and babysitting and daycare. Usually I can weasel my way out of it with Charlotte, but I did draw an awful chicken last week that was Not Okay and also Not Sitting on Any Eggs. (Which were never actually requested.) I’m sorry, but I did, in fact, laugh at your misfortune and then cross my fingers and yell, “Jinx! Jinx!” And then I knocked on wood.

  7. Mira says:

    This is fantastic. Before I was sitting home in bed, sick and miserable. Now I’m sitting home in bed, sick and miserable, laughing my head off. Thank you.

    It is also helping me to recover from our leave-taking incident this morning, in which I was proven for once and for all to be an utterly unfit mother, because even though I packed Noah’s lunch with one Passover cookie for Noah AND one for his best friend, in two separate baggies, labeled with each boy’s name, I did NOT label Noah’s cookie baggie in his favorite color.

    (I meekly protested that blue magic markers have a lifespan of about 35 seconds in our household, since they’re used immediately upon purchase; upon which the top is immediately, permanently lost; upon which the marker is rendered a useless simulacrum of its former self.) But no dice. He’s off to find a new family.

  8. April says:

    haha I unfortunately have said that last part….the part with the fuck in it. I occasionally lose my stuff and curse at them. It happens. Sigh. LOL.

    Mine are not super into the arts and crafts. We do them but since preschool started they do most of them there and when we do crafts they are more into just doing it themselves and don’t want my help. So we don’t have this problem yet. We do have the “I can’t do anything right for you, can I?” problem though. I think it is a thing all preschoolers do to their parents.

    Here you are being a nice mommy letting them do crafts and helping them and all they give you is crap. I get the same except I may be trying to take them to the playground and all they just yell at them like they are doing me a favor. Its HARD not to lose your cool in such situations. :(

    You might want to just be firm in that you will help her but if she complains about your help in any way shape or form, craft time is officially over. Then clean it up and explain that if she yells at you then she doesn’t get to do crafts.

  9. Cindy says:

    Oh, Jane I FEEL YOUR PAIN!!!! My oldest daughter is exactly like this. And one of my twins seems to be in line with the same personality type. I can’t stand “doing it” for them. I make them do it themselves if I can because I KNOW how it is going to end. Really kid? You demand that I do it and then you scream and cry when it isn’t done exactly as it is in your every-changing mind? Really? No thanks. I’ll stick with the magnadoodle that I can erase and do over.

  10. Jane Roper says:

    I am so glad to know that my kids are not the only psycho control freaks when it comes to this sort of thing! Misery loves company.

  11. Wendy says:

    I’ve been reading your blog for a long time now and I’ve always noticed now Clio seems a *lot* like my daughter (who is now 7) but this takes the cake! Her dad and I both still try to avoid doing projects with her because we will inevitably do it wrong and it’s so upsetting to her. FYI, this tendency to hate making mistakes has shown up in her schoolwork. She’s one of the top kids academically in her class but she still hates to take a chance and go out on a limb for hatred of “doing/getting something wrong”. We are constantly looking for ways to expose her to small failures that result in learning something interesting in order to help her understand it’s ok.

  12. Patty says:

    Jane, I suspect you’ll get a kick out of http://tinyartdirector.blogspot.com/. And yes, I had much the same experience just the other eve when my son and I were drawing “connect the dots” for one another. We had a grand time until I ruined it by connecting something that wasn’t supposed to be a dot, it was a letter. Just because it was unrecognizable doesn’t make it any less a letter, I was told in no uncertain terms (though I did have to interpret a bit, because it’s awfully difficult to understand him when he’s wailing).

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