Have Nercy

Imagine if one of my kids tried something new, didn’t get the desired results and wanted to quit. What kind of advice would I give him? “It’s not your thing. Just stick to what you’re good at,” or “Wow, that’s embarrassing. What made you think you could do that?” Of course not. What a horrible thing to say. But somehow I think it’s fine that I say things like that to myself all the time.

Before I was married, I used to hang out with my then future sister-in-law every weekend. We’d go shopping and make crafts and we’d always buy Starburst popsicles. One weekend we took a class with her cousin at a craft store and made “Have Mercy” Turkeys. We painted each part, including the tricky plaid pants, then glued it all together. I was very proud of my effort until the other two pointed out that my sign looked like it said “Have Nercy.” For the rest of the evening, I let myself get more and more hurt by the mild-mannered ribbing they were giving me so I was already pretty upset by the time I walked out to my car only to find that someone had thrown eggs at it. Not a great night for me.

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I don’t know why I have kept the turkey for 20 years. I tried to fix the M to be more recognizable but without much success. All the smaller pieces have fallen off and I never display it. I often think of it as I’m writing Ms in my piano students’ notebooks. That last line gets too close, the M looks like an N and I think, “There I go again. It’s the Have Nercy Turkey all over again.”

The experience was apparently so traumatic that I just don’t do crafts anymore. I quit. I’m a quitter. I walked away. I lived my life in fear.

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And the most annoying part is that my failure was just something I perceived. No edict came down from the Craft Police, no report card or test results. It was my own self-judgement that convinced me I was bad at crafts but I let it become part of who I am and I’ve passed all crafty tasks on to my husband because: “He’s more artistic…I’m just not as detail oriented…We want it to actually look good.” I stopped doing something I used to enjoy because of one stupid letter. That’s kind of pathetic.

So this week I decided to get together with my same sister-in-law and cousin, buy some Starburst popsicles (they’re totally not the same, but they’ll do in a pinch), and make a craft. Something I’ll have to look at year round and say, “I did that.” Something I’m not allowed to criticize or belittle any more than I would my son’s artwork on the fridge.

I was feeling like a novice anyway and then one of my boys saw me looking up ideas on Pinterest and asked what I was doing. When I told him I was going to do a craft he said, “I never thought I would hear my mother say those words. Ever.”

We planned to meet Saturday at 5:00 but I decided to run a quick errand before picking up the Starburst popsicles and dinner for all of us. Apparently the entire state of Utah decided to do the same thing. I don’t know if you’ve ever been shopping in American Fork, but there’s a shopping center there that’s bigger than my whole town. I got lost trying to find Walmart for the popsicles, lost trying to find Costa Vida (which was closed for renovations), then lost trying to find Cafe Rio, fighting the rest of the state for a parking spot everywhere I went. Then I had to stand in a Disneyland-like line for 20 minutes for dinner. Two hours after starting my “quick” errand, I finally reached my sister-in-law’s house. Those poor popsicles never stood a chance.

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With such a rough start to the night, I was having doubts. Could I really finish the whole thing after starting so late? Did I even remember how to make things with my hands? Is it possible that I really am terrible at all things crafty? Luckily these ladies are some of my very favorite people to hang out with. They were so nice about my cluelessness and very helpful with all my duh questions, even as they were both working on much more impressive and artistic projects.

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For my craft, I decided to steal an idea from a friend’s Facebook wall and make a sign for my laundry room that says: “You gotta know when to hold ‘em, when to fold ‘em, when to walk away and when to run.” I painted a slab of wood and tried to add a light stencil backdrop which did not work at all so I painted over that mess.

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I took my cousin’s advice and scribbled the back of my printed paper with pencil and then placed the paper on the wood and traced the letters, leaving a pencil leaded imprint in the wood. The next plan was to try to paint the letters (as if I’m coordinated to do that…) She suggested I get a paint pen and was surprised that I had never heard of one. I was not at all surprised but I thought that sounded like something I could actually do without messing up too badly.

So Monday I bought some paint pens and went at it. There was a bit of a learning curve to using the pen. It started off a little glompy.

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But I stuck with it and look how it turned out. Not fancy or perfect, but neither am I.

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And then I watched this video which is quite possibly the most boring music video ever produced. And is the removal and hanging up of the jacket at the beginning of the video Kenny’s homage to another famous Mr. Rogers?

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