You Can’t Spell Diorama Without Die

Henry’s homework falls 100 percent under my purview. Monday through Thursday, while Bob “toils” away at “work,” I’m left at home to ensure math worksheets get completed accurately, vocabulary words are spelled correctly and stories are read with appropriate inflection.

This wouldn’t normally be a problem. However, managing the completion of what seems like an alarming amount of homework for a second grader is made monumentally more challenging when you throw a two-year-old and a four-year-old into the mix. Every night, through gritted teeth and barely contained rage, I toil away at the homework checklist with Henry, pausing every thirty seconds to take someone to the potty, throw Goldfish in a bowl, diaper a baby doll, settle a dispute and, ultimately, turn on the television. Because, just… whatever.

You can imagine that if Henry has assignments or special projects that fall over the weekend, I throw them in Bob’s face while yelling, “YOUR TURN!”

It was under these tension-filled circumstances that this past weekend we found ourselves knee-deep in sloths. The assignment: create a diorama of your assigned animal and the habitat where it can typically be found. While the instructions were simple enough, the execution was a nail-biter.

It started with me, of course, trying to micromanage every detail of the project I had decreed as, “not my job this time!” Even though I had turned over full scope and responsibility to Bob, it didn’t prevent me from asking every five minutes, “Have you started the diorama yet?”

“Better get going on that diorama!”

“How’s that diorama coming along?”

“You can bet, I’m not going to help you with that diorama at eight o’clock on Sunday night!”

My pestering only abated when I left the house for a CLEARLY NEEDED late lunch and shopping excursion with friends on Saturday.

Once the project was actually underway, delays set in almost immediately. The assignment detailed the dimensions the diorama should be: the size of a standard shoebox. Seems easy enough, if we had any shoeboxes. It appears I am woefully unprepared for the ramp up in grade school projects because I have nothing in my Elementary Closet Of Garbage That Really Isn’t Garbage. There was nary an empty shoebox, toilet paper roll, egg carton or plastic coffee container to kick around. And, while I briefly considered running to Target to buy new shoes just for the box, we Bob had to think of a work-around.

We eventually found a random gift box that was approximately the right dimensions while having the dual advantage of already being a solid color on the exterior since the project instructions (of which I had vowed to not be a part of) detailed that the diorama must be decorated on the inside AND the outside. Really? Really?

With the habitat structure secured and reinforced, we Bob and Henry moved on to crafting the interior. A Google search gave us the image of the sloth we needed to print while revealing that many, many people on the internet are really into sloths. We also printed jungle background scenes to color, gathered sticks and leaves to further the forest imagery and used so, so much glue. By the time we were finished, the habitat was basically 50 percent glue stick.

The final piece of the diorama puzzle was carefully putting the sloth-on-a-stick in place. The instructions clearly stated that the assigned animal must be prominently displayed. So, when Bob, as official Parent in Charge of the project, proudly approached with the finished habitat (long after Henry had retreated to bed), I was disconcerted that the sloth was tucked so far towards the back of the diorama. I mean, it was still there but I wouldn’t say it was PROMINENT.

I’m a tad ashamed to admit that for a good five minutes, we stood there and debated over the ideal location of the sloth inside the habitat. Bob refused to move it since he explained the sloth was delicately balanced over the fake river dangling from the fake tree JUST LIKE IN REAL LIFE. I was only concerned about following the instructions TO THE LETTER.

Finally, it dawned on me that I was standing in my kitchen, late on a Sunday night (the evening when all the good TV is on), arguing with my husband about the location of a sloth inside a diorama destined for second grade and then the recycling bin. I mean, Henry doesn’t even get real grades yet. The madness needed to stop. I conceded on everything and went to watch The Walking Dead while the glue (so much glue) dried.

If Henry gets anything below an “E” on this assignment, I’m blaming Bob and his sloth-appropriation skills.

This could have looked different.

This could have looked different.

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2 thoughts on “You Can’t Spell Diorama Without Die

  1. So has Saint Bob received his we-don’t-want-anyone-to-feel-bad participation grade yet? I can tell you that “we” have gotten an A on all three not-my-president-projects in 2nd grade and an A on all three not-my-Indian-projects in 3rd grade and an A on all three not-my-saint-projects in 4th grade. Pressure’s on.

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