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February 2, 2010

Yesterday, AJ came home in a panic. His school’s soon-to-be-fired art teacher runs a snowman sculpture contest every year. AJ’s been dying to do it, but it’s only for third and fourth graders, so this is the first year he’s eligible. He got the notice about it two wees ago, but I haven’t been able to get him to work on it. The sculptures can be made of “anything but ice and snow,” seeing as they spend a couple of weeks on top of the cubbies inside the school, and “please no food,” because in the past, sugar cube sculptures have attracted mice. I’ve asked AJ several times if he wanted to go to the Craft Raft to get supplies, but he always had other things he’d rather be doing. So I stopped mentioning it. Then yesterday, he came home demanding an immediate ride to the store.

“I’m sorry, I can’t.”

He started to argue.

“AJ, I can’t. I’ve got to teach this afternoon and then it’s going to be dinner time. If you’re going to do this, you’re going to have to do it with things we’ve got it at home. I’ve offered to take you to the store several times, but you didn’t want to go. Now you’ve got to figure this out yourself.”

After he stopped ranting, I suggested he make some balls out of tin foil, an idea inspired by the large balls of foil we made last weekend with the leftovers from our solar oven project. And then I left.

Reportedly, AJ asked Mr. Spy to help, but Mr. Spy had some more work to do, so he told AJ to get the things together that he needed and that he’d help him when he was finished. After Mr. Spy went back in his office, AJ got a piece of paper and made a list, complete with boxes to check when he found things. This may not seem like a big deal, but AJ is incredibly disorganized by nature, so this was a huge step. He figured out what he wanted to do, what materials he wanted to use, and he checked things off as he found them.

When I came home, I found Mr. Spy and AJ working on his mostly finished sculpture. “It’s a SnowBot,” he said proudly. The perfect theme for a snowman made of tin foil. He has googly eyes, arms made of silver pipe cleaners, a mouth made of twisted red and white electrical wire and a nose made of a red screw anchor. AJ made a control panel, painted on black construction paper, which we glued to his chest. For the finishing touch, AJ attached the antenna from his Playmobil Airport on his head. We attached him to a base of cardboard covered in tin foil and he was done.

Pictures forthcoming, I hope. I neglected to photograph SnowBot before he made it into school.

• • • • •

Today’s entry in the category of dubious activities for children is brought to you by an organic farm somewhere in the midwest that runs a series of summer camps for childrenages 6-12 from the beginning of June through the end of August. As a former city-dweller, the idea of sending a child off to a farm for a nice rural experience sounds kind of idyllic. But as a former city-dweller, I don’t tend to think to much about all the work involved. The list of activities in “A Typical Farm Day” at the camp, though,sounds anything but idyllic. It sounds daunting to me, let alone to a six-year old:

• rise, make beds
• milking
• breakfast
• chores (livestock, feedroom, garden, kitchen, house)
• projects (livestock, garden, food preparation, canning, repairs, construction, wool mill, corn shelling, hay making, etc.)

• lunch
• chores
• projects (M)
•hilltop games (T/W)
•creekwalk/cookout (TH)

• supper
• chores
• tarp meeting
• showers
• cocoa
• indoor quiet games
• meeting to recap day’s events
• to bed in the farmhouse, very tired!

• there is “farmstead time,” a time to just be on the farm, in the loft, or with a favorite animal.

Now in fairness, the farm’s website makes this look like a fabulous experience and it is a beautiful place. It stresses that the farmers are Montessori teachers and talks about their mission with the farm and the camp. But the brochure makes the whole venture sound a lot like Bart Simpson’s foreign exchange experience on a French vineyard. Get paid for free labor? A brilliant business plan.

I wonder if I could start a gardening summer camp? Maybe a home repairs summer camp? My house could use a coat of paint.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. February 2, 2010 12:27 pm

    I’ve gotten those farm camp flyers and had the same response. Also gotten that kid urgency on the day I had things scheduled and gave pretty much the same response–and after years of that, they sometimes give me one day’s notice (“I need posterboard tomorrow after school”).

  2. readersguide permalink
    February 2, 2010 2:46 pm

    It is amazing what they can come up with when left to their own devices. M had a similar experience with her “throw an egg off the roof” contraption. (It’s also amazing the amount of stuff we actually already have in our houses.)

  3. February 2, 2010 3:12 pm

    Well, considering that any given job would probably take less time for an adult to do him/herself than to shepherd a child through it, I’m not sure it exactly qualifies as “free labor,” and having grown up in the country, the list sounds very reasonable. I was integral part of the canning process by the time I was 4yo, slipping skins off of blanched peaches. 😀

  4. freshhell permalink
    February 2, 2010 6:21 pm

    That actually doesn’t look like an unreasonable schedule but it could be that my mind is permanently damaged at this point.

    I hope you do get a photo of the robot eventually. I would like to see it.

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