One of the most polarizing purchases Laurie and I have ever made was a small craft table for Jasmine. It’s shorter than a standard table, and sits in the corner of our dining room in a spot that somewhat hides the constant chaos. The hot glue gun is usually on and the lids to the glue sticks and markers are usually off. There might be homemade goo in the brand new Rubbermaid containers or paint in our new drinking glasses. Every day is a new project.
This craft table is one of Jasmine’s prized possessions. She comes home from school and goes right to work. Last week, she single-handedly planned and organized a family game night. She drafted invitations to the whole family using a new pack of construction paper she begged Laurie for days to purchase. She wrote the whole itinerary and made everyone gift bags with handwritten notes saying ‘Thank you for coming’ and candy she got from her Valentine’s Day party at school.
“That’s sweet, baby,” I tell her as I try to hand her a small bag of M&M’s. “But you didn’t have to use your own candy.”
She puts her hands on her hips and scolds me. “Daddy! When you go to a party you’re supposed to get a party bag.”
“You’re right,” I say. “How about we split it?”
She leaps into my lap and gives me a big hug. “OK!”
It’s a ton of fun seeing how hospitable she is. She genuinely loves being a hostess, and she puts a lot of mileage on her craft table. I can get over a lot of the messiness and some of the stuff she ruins. The problem is her attitude at clean-up time.
As soon as I call her name, she’s already giving me grief. It’s like she has a sixth sense for a certain way I call her name because she responds with, “Oh no.”
“I haven’t even told you what I called you in here for,” I say.
“You want me to clean the craft table?”
“Well, yes,” I say, wondering how a 7 year old is already so much smarter than I am.
She slumps her shoulders and says, “It’s too hard. Can someone help me?”
“No one helped you make the mess.”
Then the standoff begins. She stalls for a while, or gets sent to time out. Sometimes she moves things around for about 10 minutes, thinking I won’t notice she actually hasn’t cleaned anything, and then asks, “Can I be done now?”
I try to walk her through step-by-step. “Just clean paper items,” I tell her. “Then clean crayons, markers, colored pencils, etc.” But she’s easily overwhelmed every step of the way, so I try to keep my cool long enough to walk her through completing it. On two occasions, she had such a bad attitude I had to ground her from the craft table. But then everything else in the house became her craft table. So we ended up with glue from the hot glue gun on the kitchen counter, nail polish remover on the kitchen table, and Sharpie on the coffee table. We got mad, sent her to time out, and then announced she’s no longer grounded from her craft table.
“Really?!” she said, and gave us a big smile.
Laurie and I massaged the sides of our temples. “Yes, Jasmine. We’re going to go lie down for a little bit and take a break.”
A few minutes later, she burst into our bedroom and presented us with cards. “Thank you for letting me have my craft table back,” they read. Huge piles of glitter fell into our laps and trickled down onto the bed.
“Do you love it?!” she asked.
Laurie and I took a long sigh. “Sure, baby.”