I’ve been feeling less than my usual self lately. I’m attributing it to a mid-life crisis–I took a quiz online and answered “yes” to eight out of ten questions. I’m not having an affair, of course. But otherwise I fit all of the criteria. I’m 45, mildly depressed, cranky, tired, obsessed with having another baby, and experiencing a sudden and overwhelming desire to trade in my car. For a Honda Fit EV. But still.
So I’ve been, emotionally speaking, a bit unstable. Grouchy with Mike, prone to weeping, listless, singing a lot of 1980’s commercial jingles. Who knows why. And I’m stressed. About everything. Mortality, global warming, inexplicable moths in my bathroom…and as if all of that’s not bad enough, I have another round of AE coming up–that’s Afternoon Enrichment, for those of your who missed spiderfest six weeks ago. I’m a wreck about it. Again. I mean, really. You’d think I was prepping for a ten-year trial at the Hague and not for two hours of crafting with a handful of pre-schoolers.
I blame the mid-life crisis. It tells me, you see, that my life amounts to nothing. What have I got to show for myself? A small family and a wobbly house. Some blog posts, a few CD’s. Oh, and a handful of broken appliances. (With a new one added just today: the garbage disposal. Because I poured MJ’s innocuous-looking cup of “perfume“–which had gone rancid–into it, not realizing that said concoction was loaded with six hundred pebbles.)
Anyway. It seems like so little. Compared to most of the people I know, anyway.
Which brings me back to AE. Because all I can think about is how spectacularly the other parents do it. You should see the “crafts” they come in with! Looms, to teach the kids to weave. Silkworms, to help the kids grasp metamorphosis. They teach them to make artisanal paper, then use it to make books. There is gluten-free baking, vegetable dying, block printing, silk screening. I halfway expect to come in one day and see the kids grinding their own flour. Which they’ve grown, right before class, in their newly-fashioned hydroponic garden. That they mulched by hand and fertilized with fish carcasses that they mashed themselves after first raising said creatures in a hand-blown glass bowl–also made in class–that they later recycled into a terrarium in which they built a microcosmic universe, complete with teeny-tiny galaxies, all made from hand-dyed dark matter.
Then there’s me. I have no fucking ideas. Or I do have some, but they’re all inchoate and utterly illogical. Each possesses a fatal flaw. If only there were a craft that employed those. I’d be so well equipped. Fatal flaw God’s Eye, anyone? Hang it on the Christmas tree!
Oh, I considered making perfume. That seemed like a great idea for a second. It fits the “emergent” theme. It uses natural materials. Engages the senses. There’s a recipe for simple rose water online. But it requires boiling water. And I refuse to bring anything scalding into a group of four-year-olds. Unless its my wit. So that idea is out.
There were others. Many of them. None panned out. So I went to Michael’s. My beleaguered husband offered to take me. I think he was at his wit’s end. I am not quiet about my suffering. I am not subtle. I agonize, vocally and often. Between nervous rounds of “Oscar Mayer Wiener,” of course. These AE classes may be harder on him than they are on me. So to the strip mall we went.
There we found–on sale for fifty cents apiece–some small cardboard birdhouses.
I’m not sure why they were so discounted. Unless it’s their size. The holes in them are so wee that a real bird could never fit inside. OK, maybe a hummingbird. But only a baby. A runt, actually. Still, I bought ten of them. My “students” are going to decorate them and give them to their dads for Fathers Day. I know, it’s absurd. It makes no sense. It’s un-emergent, requires no motor skills, and uses nothing natural. Unless you count cardboard, which is, after all, recyclable in some states. Still, no father in the world needs a tiny, unusable, paper birdhouse that’s been painted, covered with glitter, and dotted with stray beads. No father bird, even. But that’s what they’re going to get. And damn it, they’re going to like it.
Because I’m having a mid-life crisis, and right now this is the best I can do.
“‘Cause if I was an Oscar Mayer Wiener, everyone would be in love with me…”