Every once in a while I realize that the true genius of preschool teachers is that they work a little bit on a project every day for weeks. Q comes home with amazing crafts, but what I don't realize is how many days it took to finish the project.
I didn't start early enough.
Tuesday night I drew hearts (folded paper so that each side would come out as a mirror of the other) and Q cut them out. I cut out the 'card' part. It was really difficult for Q to stay on task and keep cutting until there were enough hearts (and he was doing two at a time). That should have been the tip off for me.
But in addition to Valentines, I'd also promised Q, and then his teacher, that we'd bring cookies to school on Valentine's Day. (Or rather, Thursday, since there's no school for him on Friday). So we have a serious deadline ahead for 12 valentines, plus 3 teachers, plus thematic cookies.
And I'd like to say now, in case I ever consider this again, perhaps it was too much work in a short amount of time. Perhaps in the future we can start making Valentines as soon as we are done writing thank you notes from Christmas.
We started out great: writing names on the front, gluing hearts on, putting stamps on the inside (they're gingerbread men and snowmen, but Q doesn't care) and having Q write 'from Q'. He adjusted that to 'love' at least once. And 'frve' another time. At least I'm smart enough to let that go. But then Q started to rebel. He was tired. It's hard to write that much, even if Mom tells you what letter comes next. Then the glue stick was exhausting. He had lots of energy for the stamping though. He was delighted to discover that if he stamped first in red, then in blue, he got purple! "They're going to love these valentines." He says this in his soft lovey voice he uses most often when he's talking about his beloved kitty, "Kitty is a newborn kitty. I'm nursing kitty."
Okay. So we keep plowing ahead. I am now writing the names on the front, Q stamps the inside, writes his name, I put glue on the front and Q picks out one of the hearts he cut before and puts that on the front. Done. Again. Exhausting.
But I'm not giving you the full experience. While this is going on, Noodle is going feral. She has discovered Q's craft box and pulled out the crayons. I hand her a piece of paper. She looks at it once, takes the crayons and disappears. I can't pay attention because I have to keep Q on task and keep feeding him letters. "Done!" he declares. I look. Half his name is missing. Try again.
Noodle tries to steal the glue stick. I rescue it. I try to distract her with an unneeded stamp. "NOOOOO!" she screams, standing on the chair next to me, leaning as far into the table as possible, precariously balanced on the edge. I scoot the chair in, and now she's got a sturdy surface from which she tries to steal the scissors. I try to distract her with colored paper and chalk. She is momentarily engaged and I continue to try to keep Q on task. "What color do you think Jack should have?"
We're getting there. More than halfway through the valentines. Noodle is scattering items from the craft box around the room. She happily climbs onto a comfy chair, clutching the ziplock baggie of crayons. She dumps these into the chair, where they roll into the crevasses. I stay focused on Q. Sometimes you accept that your couch will fall to friendly fire.
Noodle leans off the chair to peer at a crayon that has fallen to the floor. The cushion tips her off and she lands on her head with a thud. Ooops. Switch kids. I hold the exhausted Noodle as she sobs. Did I mention that it's after 6 pm and the kids are usually in the tub by now? I call for back up. J emerges from the den looking confused.
I put J in charge of the valentines, direct him to the list of children's names and say Q can tell him how they're made. I take Noodle upstairs for her bath. Q talks J into letting him add glitter to all the valentines. Have I mentioned that the floor under the table is now a melange of crayons, chalk, scraps of paper Noodle stole from the trash, k'nex (they're like legos) and toddler crumbs? (Toddler crumbs are much larger than preschool crumbs. Toddler crumbs are how toddlers store food for future snacking.) Add glitter to that mix.
Somehow it all gets done. Noodle is bathed. The valentines are made, except of course the ones for the teachers which I forgot to mention to J. Q is in his jammies, and everyone collapses on our bed for book time. Noodle insists on "lie-barry" books. J, unhindered by a head cold, reads most of the stories. We tuck the kids in bed.
Downstairs again, I find myself comparatively relaxed as I frost the cookies that J and Q mixed, and J cut into the shape of hearts while Q played k'nex (much to everyone's relief). As I switch between pink and lavender frosting, I realize this kind of stress is crazy and I wonder if I'm going to lose my slacker mom status. Then I see the debris under the table and I realize I have nothing to worry about.