I have a confession: I can't stand doing crafts with the kids. It always turns into a disaster. It wasn't always like this. I start out with high hopes, but invariably it turns into a free-for-all.
Whether we're making candles or finger-painting or making a foam Christmas tree, simultaneously there's always one kid who can't do it without help, one kid who can't do it without help but does it anyway, one kid who rushes through and is (poorly) done in five minutes, one kid who still isn't done two hours later, and, of course, the twins, too young to include but too old to be left out.
If it's a food craft, they're clamoring and fighting and crying ,"You said I could mix it!" or "I wanted to pour the chocolate chips in!"
And then there's me, rushing from kid to kid, trying to give three different sets of instructions at the same time while stopping one twin from giving the other a safety-scissor haircut, all in a state somewhere between frenzy and nervous breakdown.
Sometimes, just to liven things up, the occasional fight breaks out. And towards the end, they see something shiny, and I'm left cleaning up the glitter or pumpkin guts or picking up 300 twisted tie-dye rubber bands (and sporting tie-dyed hands for a week because I forgot to put on gloves), all the while wondering why I even bother in the first place. It completely wears me out for the rest of the day, and I usually need a nap and a heavy dose of solitude when it's all over.
It makes me wonder if I'm really cut out to be a homeschooling mom after all.
Having said all that, today we made rice krispy treats together.
Backstory: The last time we went to the salon, the stylist had a box of krispy treats and gave each of the girls one. Today we stopped in briefly, and as we were leaving, Natalie dug in her heels, started hopping up and down, and howling "I want a bar! I want a bar!" Of course, I had no idea what she meant.
Natalie hopped and howled all the way to the car, until Clare remembered the krispy treats from last time. So instead of scolding her or threatening her or any of those other things parents do in public to a tantrum kid, I tried to explain to a two-year-old that the treats were all gone. Didn't work. Then I told her that if she stopped crying, we would stop at the store and get marshmallows to make krispy treats at home. Thankfully, this did work.
They were very good in the store and for the 3-minute ride to our house. And true to my word, I proceeded to start making krispy treats, but I was dreading the usual clamoring chaos until I had a stroke of genius. This wouldn't work for every craft, but it worked like a charm this time.
I counted out 10 marshmallows per kid (next time I'll let them each count out 10), and let them drop them one by one into the melted butter. They ran laps around the downstairs until the microwaving was done. Then I showed them, to their amazement, the huge spongy mass that now was where their marshmallows had been.
Then - first stroke of genius - instead of scooping 6 cups of krispies one at a time out of the box, I scooped all six cups into large bowl and put 3 smaller measuring scoops into the bowl. Then I appointed the oldest, Clare, to be Designated Stirrer, because that marshmallow stuff is so goopy that she's the only one who could handle it.
Next - second stroke of genius - I took them out to the front walk so that any spills would be cleaned up by the wildlife detail instead of on my kitchen floor. And it worked beautifully! Clare was satisfied because she had an important job, using three scoopers meant that everybody got adequate turns to add krispies, and the smaller scoops meant that it took a good, long time to add them all.
Even more fun was that Mom let everybody eat handfuls of the sticky, gooey mess right out of the mixing bowl.
Remember that, kids. Your mom is awesome.