National Catholic Register


Ruin It Yourself

BY Simcha Fisher

| Posted 6/13/13 at 9:19 AM


Recently, I turned down a request to review a book of full of crafts and projects you can do at home with your kids.  The reason I gave was that I was just too busy, but the real reason is that I’m just too smart.  I’ve learned, after a trial-and-error experiment that’s lasted nearly thirty years, that I’m good at making one thing and only one thing:  babies.  I do keep on trying to be crafty, and sometimes I don’t even make my family suffer too much while I’m trying, but even my highly biased eyes can see that the end result is usually a wad of gluey junk.  This is true whether or not I have been using glue.

That being said, even I have gotten to the point where I can spot a sure-fire disaster ahead of time.

For instance, the other day I was in the dentist's office, waiting to be yelled at by the hygienist.  Since I don't know who Blake Shelton is, I decided I didn't especially need to know the truth about his marriage.  That left me with two reading choices:  Any of the eleven Grolier editions of Green Eggs and Ham, and a bunch of parenting magazines dedicated to helping you make your children's early years even more wondrous than they already are, with only the aid of a bunch of Mod Podge, specialty duct tape, and semi-emulsified glycerin spray, which can be found in the Quiet Desperation aisle of most major department stores.

One magazine suggested making huge lawn stencils to gussy up your yard for outdoor celebrations.  For the Fourth of July, you could cut out stars of various sizes and dot them around the grass.  Clever, right?  Kids would love it, right?  Removed as I was from the harsh realities of our humble (by which I mean disgusting) home, and possibly under the influence of the nitroius oxide that our dentist throws around a little too freely, I throught thought this was a magnificent idea, so creative and unexpected and FUN!  Even though that’s not an adjective!  You could adapt this for so many holidays.  I even envisioned cutting out huge letters to spell out HAPPY FATHER’S DAY as a creative surprise for my husband, on the off chance that he remembers it’s Father’s Day and goes outside that day.

But here’s the thing: you’re supposed to make the designs out of flour.  You use a sifter, and just sprinkle flour around in your yard.

I guess this could be a good idea, unless you have children.  Or rain.  At our house, I know exactly what would happen:  while I was doing the second half of the yard, the kids would be busily scuffing their feet through the first part of the yard, pretending to be Godzilla wreaking havoc on a, I don’t know, a flour mining village or something.  And then – how, I will leave up to your imagination – moisture of some kind would be involved.  And then they would do some more scuffing, and then they would all decide that they needed to go inside and get ice pops.

I would be at my computer doing, um, research, and I would look up to discover that the kids had come and gone, leaving nothing to mark their passage but a freezer door hanging open, and a four-inch-thick trail of rapidly hardening flour paste from one end of the house to the other, and back again.  As I gazed, photo albums, soccer cleats, and apple cores would be enveloped into the goo.  The baby would become entrapped like a wooly mammoth in a tar pit, and I would be powerless to come to her aid because I was on Pinterest, trying to read something about Blake Shelton's marriage.

What I'm trying to say is this:  if you come to my house for the Fourth of July, there will be food.  There will be beer.  There may even be things scattered around in the yard, and there will almost certainly be thick, gooey tracks of something in the hallways.  Let's just pretend this is festive, and evidence that I tried, okay?  If it helps you feel any better about your own life, you are more than welcome to send me ideas for how to fashion adorably patriotic tea light centerpieces using only a mason jar, a wad of alpaca wool, and three deionized turkey feathers, available in the craft section of your local liquor store.  But other than that, I'd just as soon let other people do the DIY.  As for me and my household, we will RIY all the way.  Followed closely by BYOB.