Take a few steps into Target, any craft
store or even the grocery store for that matter, and you can't miss them:
craft kits for kids. Felt puppets, homemade lip balm, friendship bracelets, sun
catchers—everything your children need for almost any project you can imagine
is available, ready to go, organized in its own box or plastic tub with full-color
Containers packed with pre-measured,
pre-cut, pre-everythinged supplies for all those various kids' crafts are so
convenient, aren't they? Or ... are they?
I've been lulled into that false sense
of parental smugness by these kits on many occasions, each time fully convinced
I had purchased a magical box brimming with brain-stimulating quiet activities.
Most recently, my almost-4-year-old excitedly selected a set she could use
to create foam sticker mosaics in all different animal shapes.
We got home, and it took her almost five
whole minutes to construct a solid fingertip-to-elbow glove with hundreds of
self-adhesive foam squares squished into colorful wads, then declare she was
bored and ask if she could cut the paper sticker backing into tiny shards
instead, which she left scattered all over the living room carpet. Adorable,
but not exactly what I had in mind for my $12.99 investment.
But that's the point. It never is what
we had in mind, is it? Sure, they still have fun (mostly) and that's the
important thing, but wouldn't it be nice if some of our Big Parenting Plans
turned out the way we expected them to with these craft kits every once in a
expect: They'll be entertained for hours!
What happens: You spend hours scraping glow-in-the-dark glitter glue off your
expect: The box will contain everything you need
to make several items.
What happens: The kids use every single googly eye and Popsicle stick on the
first project, then complain that everything they try to make with the
remaining glue dots and four beads is hopelessly lame.
Your child somehow finds a way to make fuzzy pompoms extremely dangerous.
expect: This project will
stimulate your kids' creativity!
What happens: Your kids find creative ways to get pipe
cleaners stuck in their hair.
expect: They'll follow the instructions on the
large plastic bucket the craft supplies came in.
What happens: They completely ignore the craft supplies and wear the large
plastic bucket on their heads.
expect: This will be fun. We're really going to bond!
What happens: Your child is too busy to bond—too busy
having a complete emotional breakdown over the fact that their feathered
headband doesn't look exactly like the one on the box.
expect: It'll be a great
activity for a class party or sleepover.
What happens: Each child gets 87 feet of yarn and
enough pre-punched foam pieces to make an adorable pencil pouch, at which point
you realize they're all supposed to share one single oversized, blunt-tipped
plastic safety needle.