Today I'm helping to host a Tall Tales Hot Lunch for Jack's third grade class. They've just started their Tall Tales unit and are learning all about Paul Bunyon and Davie Crockett and Johnny Appleseed and the like.
This isn't the first time I've helped with a hot lunch, but it's the first time I've been pretty much in charge. It's me and Victor's dad, and somehow I got signed on as the head honcho. Victor's dad and I divvied up duties--he's responsible for all the stuff you can get cheap at Sam's Club, I'm in charge of picking up a six feet worth of a subway sandwich, making humongous chocolate chip cookies and putting together some vegetables and dip.
Now, usually I'm just a helper mom. I'm the mom handing out napkins and sticking straws into juice boxes. There are a lot of Super Moms at Jack's school, and I've always been happy to let them do their thing. Now that it's my turn to be Super Mom, well, I decided the least I could do was make a centerpiece. So of course, in my insanity, I have made Babe the Blue Ox out of a plank and some Amazon.com boxes.
Remember the six-foot sub? Well, I wanted to come up with a fun way to serve it. I'd planned on just covering a long piece of cardboard with foil and calling it a party, but then today, when I was reading Henry and the Club House by Beverly Cleary, where Henry Huggins is hunting around for boards to build a dog house for Ribsy, I thought, "Hey, we've got boards out in the garage--I could make an ox to serve the sub on!" Yes, this is how my mind works, which is why it's best I make my living at home, by myself, not bothering anyone else.
(By the way: I was very excited by the idea of bringing a six-foot subway sandwich, all of a piece, for Jack's class. I even ordered one from Subway. I canceled my order after learning that a six-foot sub from Subway costs $64. That's over ten dollars per foot, and a lot more expensive than buying six one-foot subs,which is of course what I immediately changed my plan to.)
The funny thing was, while I was constructing ol' Babe, Will was playing happily with his Lego Star Wars ships and did not seem to find it the least bit odd that I was covering a seven foot plank of wood with blue construction paper, nor did he deem it odd when I covered a cardboard ox's head with fabric from our old kitchen curtains. Of course, he's five and insanity is a way of life for him.
Anyway, this whole deal sums up the insecurity of being a creative-type individual. Because, to be honest, I like my crazy, folk art Babe the Blue Ox--but I'm perfectly aware I might be friggin' out of my bean. If I hated it, I'd feel confident in my hatred. I'd know it was bad. But when you create something and like it, then it's more of a crap shoot. Believe me, I know what it's like to be in love with one of my creations and find that no one else shares my affection.
My husband claims to like my blue ox, but, you know, he could just be taking the easy way out. He knows that a classroom of third graders won't care one way or the other, so why not just pat me on the head and say, "That's neat!" So I don't consider him a trustworthy critic.
No, Victor's dad will be the true litmus test--because my husband has been dealing with my kind of crazy for a long time now, and he knows how to put on a straight face in the face of it. But other people's husbands, forget it. They have no defenses. They've got no game. Their fear of crazy ladies shows the minute they get the slightest hint that one might be in the vicinity. So if Babe the Blue Ox is just way off the chart, I'll know it. Oh, honey, believe me: all it will take is one terrified look and I'll know it.
I'm a writer and a stay-at-home mom who keeps meaning to mop the floors because I think it would make me happy if I did. I love books and music and writing, spend entirely too much time in the dentist's chair (I bet I have more crowns than you do), and used to think I was sort of bohemian, but now I wonder. No tattoos. Minivan. That story.