Tuesday, October 16, 2012

It's perfect.

My daughter’s 1st grade teacher, Mrs. W., had a parent volunteer project. Seemed easy enough. Make play dough molds of the continents.

Requirements: make the play dough (salt, flour, water), use supplied mold, press into form, let dry for 2 days, bring completed continents (six of them) to school for firsties to paint for the completion of their mapping unit.

Piece of cake.

I was the first to volunteer.  


So my daughter and I set out to make these creations. Started on Friday. Despite the use of an ample amount of cooking spray, they just don’t release like they should… and the first one is a little squished on one side. No big deal. Five more to go- next ones will look better.

Four down and I run out of salt.

Now we’re looking at exactly forty six hours to dry- assuming we get to the store and back by 10 the next morning and get them done.

We finally finish by noon. Forty-four hours of dry time. Cutting it really close. And, they don’t exactly look up to par, in my opinion.

Sunday evening and now I’m panicking. They are not drying like they should, and they are beginning to crack in places.

What the hell?

This is not turning out like I planned at all, and I am failing my daughter. So I decide to bake them- slowly. And they are continuing to crack. I decide to leave the rest as is. 


There’s nothing I can do now. They are what they are, and I don’t have the time to make them over. I feel like I’ve completely failed at my first volunteer activity. Not to mention destroying my daughters mapping unit. They will never be able to navigate the world now, and she’s never going to get to college.


So, I take my cracked, damp molds to school on Monday and gingerly spread them out below the windowsill in the classroom. Thank god Mrs. W. is not there yet. I send her an apologetic email indicating that they are not what I had hoped, and they are not completely dry- but if the kids use enough paint, they might be OK. I swear to her that I will do better the next time. I’m embarrassed and feel like a complete failure. She’s going to be pissed and disappointed and never ask me to volunteer again. 

That Mrs. W. sends me a one line email that says: “Thank you so much! They are perfect!”

I swear to you my heart just sang.

For all of my worry and panic and failings, these were (at least in her eyes) perfect. No wonder my daughter adores her. I do too. And I know that this is just the way she sees the world. The effort and the time and the dedication- regardless of the end product- is perfect

And I, of course, careen down the “life’s lessons” highway:  

So little in my life is perfect, nor has it been for a long time.

I am constantly cataloging my faults: my inability to keep up with the laundry and keep my house as clean as it should be- my lack of social life- my parenting skills- my failure as a friend- my job performance- my clothes, my weight, my physical condition... 

I could go on and on- and I do- often. 

I am cracked, and squished and not yet dry.

And I know that if I could just take one moment and look at myself through the lens of Mrs. W., I would realize that the effort that I have put into my life is worth something. That the journey to where I am going is just that- a journey. And that, ultimately, my own mapping exercise will teach me to navigate my world.    

Yes, I am cracked, and squished and I’m not sure when I’ll ever be dry.


It’s perfect.  

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