My daughter's only homework this week is to design and build a leprechaun trap. My first thought was, Gah. Not this again. It is due Friday, and she'll be working on it Monday-Thursday. One of her big wishes for the project is that she can build it with me. There are impediments to her wish. She is with other people M-Th afternoons (dad or grandma), and in the evenings when we all get home, I'm usually working on dinner. I do pick her up on Fridays from school, but she will have already turned it in by then.
I let her know that I could help her on some of the evenings, but that other people would have to help her, too. But last night, in my efforts to honor her wish, I left the dishes sitting on the countertops after dinner so that she and I could sit down together to consider the project (it was very difficult for me to ignore those dishes). It started with me just giving her moral support while she colored some of the designs on the trap panels. But then, she announced that she wanted to make a bean bag for the leprechaun to sit in when he fell into the trap. My first thought was Really? We have to make a bean bag now?
But earlier in the evening, she had also expressed a desire to work on a sewing project together sometime soon. So, regarding the bean bag, I said, "We could sew it if you want to."
Now, sometimes, I say things like this, and they turn into such time-consuming, poorly-planned ordeals that we have to bail on the whole shebang. But last night, we easily cut out some circles, and she sewed them together. She was thrilled by the transformation that happened when we turned the sewed circles right side out, exposing her nice (and somewhat circular) seams. Then, we stuffed the little bean bag with quinoa, and she stitched it closed. The project was done, bedtime wasn't too late, and I still had the kitchen cleaned by 9:30. I couldn't believe that we managed two fulfill two of her wishes: doing a sewing project and working on the leprechaun trap. It all felt so purposeful. But the best part was how proud she was of her little project. Seeing her touch and handle the bean bag, marveling that she made it, gave me great joy.
If it sounds like I'm patting myself on the back, that's because I am. I so rarely manage to accomplish something like this without it either devolving into something stressful and/or being left unfinished. And there were no tears from either of us! But mostly I'm just grateful that the dreaded school project actually turned into something valuable for us*.
*Granted, the trap isn't finished yet, so things could get bad, but I'm going to try to maintain optimism, basking in the glow of our first efforts.