Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The short, dramatic tale of Mona's paper chameleon (Babble)

Mona often makes what she refers to as her ‘paper creations.’  She draws, colors, and cuts out animals from paper and bends and tapes them into little three dimensional playthings.  They’re quite wonderful, but easily lost or damaged, so occasionally I swipe some of my favorites while she’s not looking and hide them in a bowl in the living room in the hopes of preserving a few.  I think it’s interesting that she’s found a way to be artistic that is distinctly different from what her sister does.  Aden is often praised for her artistic abilities, so Mona’s developed a style that is not in direct competition with the kinds of things her sister likes to make.

At school, between assignments, Mona has been working on a paper creation out of recycled materials from a scrap box.  When she needs time to herself after a group activity, she likes to retreat into her own private projects, and this week she made a chameleon.  It was a pretty impressive little piece of work (said the proud mom who may be overstating things but is not apologizing for it).  The chameleon had thickness in the body composed of tape wrapped in bundles, and the tail was coiled paper that could actually hold onto a pencil and allow the paper lizard to dangle.  It came with a green leaf to stand on, and a matching cover to place over the chameleon so it would look like it had changed color to blend in with the leaf.  It was clever and fun, and unfortunately it attracted the attention of some of the other children.

Mona, even though she has moments when she enjoys the spotlight, does not as a rule like being the center of attention.  She gets flustered and shy among too many people.  She also doesn’t like to disappoint other children.  So when a couple of the kids in her class asked to have Mona’s chameleon she wasn’t sure how to say no.  Apparently she did give it to one girl for awhile who told Mona a sad story about her grandfather not feeling well and how much he would like to see such a lovely chameleon, but Mona managed to get it back later. 

When I picked her up after school she was crying because she was feeling pressure to make chameleons for everyone and she didn’t feel up to it.  I tracked down her teacher to try and get the full story (because Mona is cute but doesn’t always lay out a clear narrative that I can trust to be accurate), and then we both told Mona that she doesn’t have to give away the things she makes if she doesn’t want to, and she certainly doesn’t have to make everyone a chameleon who asks.  The teacher suggested she point the other children toward the materials she used and tell them to make chameleons for themselves.

In any case, I was hoping that would be the end of the drama about ‘Lizzy’ the paper chameleon, but the excitement continued today when Mona was trying to smuggle the thing back into the school (I don’t understand how her mind works that she even felt that was necessary, but okay), and she somehow lost it between the car and the classroom.  From the way my husband relayed it to me, she had the chameleon under her shirt when she got out of the car in the morning, and by the time she got to her room it was gone.  They went back to the school after swimming lessons and searched for it on the playground, but to no avail.  (I asked her why she had it under her shirt in the first place, and she said she wanted to put it in her backpack but there was no time.  That’s very Mona.)

Then tonight after everyone was supposed to be tucked in, Mona climbed onto my bed, snuggled up, and declared she didn’t think she could sleep because she kept thinking about Lizzy.  I opened my laptop and said I would tell her chameleon’s story on my blog.  I told her I couldn’t promise anything, but I was sure if someone found it on the playground and then read this, they would realize it was hers and get it back to us.  She looked pleased, and then asked, “But what if no one reads it?”  I told her it was a long shot, but we never know until we try.

So I don’t know if this post was entertaining to anyone out there, but it got my daughter back into bed with a smile on her face, and in my book that’s some fine writing.  (I wonder what next week’s chapter in paper creation theater will bring.)

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