03 October 2013

Bad Puppet, Redux

Two is competing for Mr. MK tonight. It's a male, high school version of the Miss America pageant, but it raises money for charity. For the talent portion of the show he will be recreating the Miley Cyrus VMA performance. Because all of my children like to wait until the verrrryyyy last minute to prepare, last night we were scouring the house for a foam finger and his tuxedo.

Yes. There is a formal wear portion of the competition. And swimwear. Or do we call that "health and fitness" now?

This morning, Two texted me to say he needed a ballot box. Just a shoebox or something. You know, decorated. This reminded me of Death by Diorama, our last foray into spontaneous crafting. But I'm also going to share my most epic craft failure again, because we could all use a laugh, right?



BAD PUPPET: the story of one young man's heartbreaking struggle to bring the joy of reading to life through art. Unable to forge the creation himself, he must overcome language barriers to gather the necessary materials and direct a disabled seamstress in a race against time.

The New York Times says:

"BAD PUPPET captures the universal struggle all artists face in bringing their creations to life. Not for the faint of heart, but necessary reading for anyone who has ever lost their muse while on deadline."

Sadly, BAD PUPPET is not fiction. It's the true tale of Five, a project, and procrastination. The usual suspects.

At the beginning of April, Five came home with instructions for his book report, which was due April 30. I had to read the sheet, sign it, and help Five choose his complementary project, because it's not enough work for the eight year-olds to just write a report. He chose to make a puppet of the main character. I signed the paper and promptly lost it. A week later we had to ask the teacher for another one, because he was the only kid in his class who hadn't already started reading for the report! This didn't alarm me, because April 30 was weeks away. His report wasn't even a blip on the outer ring of my priority radar.

Five read Henry and Mudge and Annie's Good Move in one sitting at the kitchen table. On April 14 he reminded me that the rough draft was due  April 18, and we hadn't even started it! On April 15, he sat at the kitchen table and wrote the rough draft. He handed it in to his teacher on the due date, and I put his final copy out of my mind because April 30 was still really far away.

In the meantime, I helped Four with his book report project which was due April 20. This month, he created a "Book in a Bag," by putting visual representations of the characters and important plot points in a container of some sort. We chose a computer bag, because the main character was trying to win the computer prize at the science fair. Clip, clip, clip, throw in some science stuff, done.

On April 24, I realized I was leaving at the end of the week to attend the New England Conference. There was no fucking way Five and I were going to get that project done before I left. I was still shopping at that point for an outfit to wear to my interview, which absolutely took preference over a puppet.

How hard can it be, anyway? I thought. It's a paper bag and some markers. Pish.

I mentally slotted Sunday as the day to type the final draft and create the puppet. Five and I made the necessary revisions to his draft, although there was one sticky situation. ("Dear Ms. Teacher: I believe present tense is correct in this paragraph.") We'll see how that turns out for us. After dinner, I made my paper bag prototypes, cutting out the shapes to see if they would fit Five's hand. 

And then...

"Mom, Thomas made Mudge out of a sock and an old washcloth for ears, which looked surprisingly realistic. Then he stuffed it, put it on a stick, and used that as his puppet. I want to do something like that. Something creative."

It was Sunday night. I considered my options. I could not run to the craft store to purchase felt, my preferred medium. I didn't have any rods to use as mounting sticks, no yarn for hair, no googly eyes. Nothing. What I did have was an old cotton t-shirt, some stuffing from another "Make Your Own Whatever" kit, and my sewing machine, which has been in my mother's possession for so long I've forgotten how to make the needle go in reverse.

I got to work.

When I was done sewing, I had a square-headed, long-legged, understuffed, armless cotton sack, which became half beanie-baby when we filled the legs with barley. I told Five we'd add the arms later. I gave him a marker and told him to draw eyes and a mouth. He started to cry.

"This is horrible! This is the worst puppet ever! It doesn't look anything like Henry. You just want to color everything in. I can't show this to my class. It's embarassing. You stink at crafts!"

At that point, Three walked through the kitchen, looked at the maimed beanie puppet and said, "Where are its arms?" I glared and asked if he was being helpful, to which he replied, "Uh... I like its mouth. It's very Joker-ish."

Five sobbed loudly. "It's an epic fail!"

The Captain called for him from the living room and tried all his best moves, reminding him he'd get a good grade just for trying. But Five just kept saying, "You have to see it, Dad. It's horrible. If you saw it, you'd understand."

He was right. It was spectacular in its deformity, unparalleled in its ugliness, epic in its failure.

We made a poster instead.

The next day, Five got off the bus and told me the morning had been terrible.

"One of the phonics words was 'puppet,' and it brought back all the bad memories of that square-headed puppet, Mom. I wish we weren't so bad at crafts. "

Me too, dude.


Ahhh, good times. Good times. Now I'm off to make magic with a waffle box, foamcore, and some sticky stars. Wish me luck.



  1. I guess I won't tell you about the model of San Luis Obispo my family and I made for my 4th grade class using cardboard, a flour-water-food-coloring "plaster", popsicle sticks, and string. :) We all have our strengths. Yours is successfully parenting five challenging boys and young men to be functional, good, and compassionate adults. And having hot sex with The Captain. :)

    1. Braggart.

      Boy, when you line up my strengths like that, I sound like a Stepford Wife! I'm sure the Captain would agree.

  2. I remember these. Yeah, good times, indeed.

    P.S. I spotted you in that twit-pic from earlier tonight and thought immediately of how much I wished I was in your kitchen, helping out, and just sitting there with you at the table.

    Oh yeah, and you looked fucking perfect. (That's a P!nk song, so say it in a rockin' sing-y voice.)

    1. I was exhausted from crafting! I'd just adhered all the sticky stars, and inserted the 3D foamcore cut-out of Three's name in the top. And that's how he rewards me. Cropping, anyone?

      Anytime you want to visit, I will clear a space!

  3. It's a decorated box - how can you go wrong? Bwahahahahaha.

    1. Exactly!

      It actually looked pretty awesome for throwing it together, except I taped it up on all the sides and didn't leave a way for the ballots to be removed. I'm pretty sure that's why Three lost.

  4. Okay, so I messaged you on Facebook, just like you said, but did you go there and read it?? Heelllooooo - lunch date! No boys allowed! Chocolate for dessert! Or else I'm showing up with dinner for multitudes on your doorstep. Email is krbuys at aol.com

    1. I did! And then the weekend happened, and I went to a funeral on Saturday and the Captain went to watch the Giants lose on Sunday, and then Monday happened, and then...

      This is why I never get my shit done. Emailing now!

      Thanks for reminding me!

  5. How did he do?

    I remember Bad Puppet well. He's so cool.

  6. Two placed, but did not win, Mr. MK. I placed a pox on him for posting a particularly unflattering photo of me on his twitter account. I think that's what did him in.

    Yes, Bad Puppet holds up well!


Thanks for reading! Unlike other Diaries, this one isn't private. Feel free to share your thoughts. Politely, of course.