Mamas, to say I live in an arts and crafts world is an understatement. My son, in his short lifetime, has used billions of pipe cleaners, oceans of washable paint and 5,429,832 Sharpies. Yes, Sharpies. Do I know that they are permanent? Yes. Do I have a smiley face on the wood floor in my living room forever and ever? Also yes. Do 45% of our Lego bricks have drawings on them? Another yes. “Mama, I should take a picture of this and send it to Lego because I made this brick look SO much cooler.” Good job, bud, drawing all over that brand new $60 Lego set. Now I know what you’re thinking. I’m the problem. I’m the Sharpie buyer. So, why not buy other markers? Well, because my child is using his imagination. (That’s the answer that sounds good.) Really, it’s because the kid is a marker snob. And, I have no plans to die on the permanent marker hill today.
Don’t even get me started on tape.
Over the years, our tape love has evolved. It started with clear tape. Everything was taped. He taped his art projects. He taped the knees of his pants when they ripped. He taped the dog. Then, he would untape everything and tape it again. From the ages of four to nine, you could circle the globe 75 times with the amount of clear tape I purchased. Want to know how many presents I’ve wrapped with a glue stick because I could never find the tape? Raise your hand if you’ve ever rolled up to a kid’s birthday party with your gift in a Christmas gift bag because you couldn’t find tape. I see you, Mamas. I see you.
The grandest and most recent arts and crafts project was a fort.
There has been a cardboard fort in my dining room for months. I’m not talking about one or two boxes. It’s essentially a make-shift shanty town made from Amazon boxes and neon pink duct tape. In my dining room. Since June. I was starting to wonder if I should claim it on my taxes. Every time it started to fall down or the roof would cave in, he would fix it with, you guessed it, tape. “WE NEED MORE TAPE!” I could buy an actual home with the amount of money we’ve spent on duct tape in the last five months. I can tell you where it’s cheapest. I can tell you where to get neon colors. I can tell you more about duct tape in the Chattanooga/North Georgia area that you ever needed to know. But, the other day, as I sat at the table, typing, trying not to look at the small cardboard village taking up 1/3 of my dining room, I reached the end of my tape rope.
“SON. This thing has GOT TO GO.”
Now, I know it seems cold and heartless. I felt like a Disney villain as I sat there on the floor with him, pulling apart the fort. Miles of tape wadded up. A stack of cardboard to recycle. And, it hit me. What if he never makes another fort again? What if he never asks for more tape? What if our Tape Days are now gone? Mamas, look. It’s bound to happen. They will grow. The things they love will evolve. One day you’ll need to wrap a present and guess what? The tape will be right where you left it. And, you’ll look back wistfully on a shanty town and miss it a little, remembering the days when there was enough imagination to fill the sky…or the dining room.