Saying the Right Words

Crafting with kids that you don’t particularly know can be tricky. Are they crafty? Are they good listeners? Are they terribly shy? Do they get upset easily when things go wrong?
(Are they a pain in the ass??)
One time while teaching a craft to a bunch of first graders, I found out that the at-first-seemingly-diminutive child was really the hell raiser of them all. And, boy, did he NOT like getting crafty with me. But, as you can guess, the feeling was mutual. Being the adult in the situation, I attempted to disguise my horror with a smile and a joke. I can’t say the same for the kid.
Despite the rare “oh-my-God-I-can-just-kick-that-kid-right-now” moments, I do truly enjoy crafting with kids, whether it’s one-on-one or with a large group of rowdy chatterboxes. Kids are surprisingly creative, resilient when least expected, and can cut through the bs like no one’s business!
I sometimes get caught up in giving out what I think are pearls of wisdom. But I’m no Ben Franklin, and the stupidity that drips out of my mouth is regrettable. So I have an apology to make.
I recently taught a book project and a kid asked me if her finished book was pretty. I gave a canned response: “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” What a cop-out! I am sorry. Here is the honest answer that you knew you deserved (I saw it in your eyes) and that I should have given you:
NO, your project was not pretty. It was delightfully strange. But it doesn’t mean that I didn’t like it or appreciate it. It doesn’t mean that your book is less important or relevant than the conventionally pretty one made by the kid who could cut pristine edges and could never have a glue mishap. Your book had personality and a sense of style that was all your own.
And that, to me, is a whole lot better than being just “pretty.”