Any who’ve read my blogs regularly may recall the Great Horsie Fiasco of Xmas Past, and will recall my ‘incessant preoccupation’ (Mom’s words, NOT mine) with Horses throughout my childhood, paired with many futile attempts to convince my parents that a 38-square-foot San Francisco backyard was the PERFECT environment for a lawn-mowing pony.
So imagine my delight when school provided historical data I could actually USE at home: the Trojan Horse.
That was the same semester we were introduced to the finer art of papier-mache.
That’s the trouble with traditional learning. They teach disparate facts and techniques and then unfairly expect kids to NOT make the proper connections. That’s ok. I deftly overcame my educational restrictions and ‘homework’ actually became something I volunteered for. In a manner of speaking.
Mom had an uncanny ability to sense trouble long before it actually knocked at her door and asked for a cookie.
So the outwardly simple request “can I have our newspapers from the last YEAR” (and yes, Mom and Dad hoarded many such wondrous things ‘just in case’…) apparently raised a danger blip on her radar and prompted further inquisition.
Mom: …what on EARTH would you want with a year’s worth of papers?
Me: (vaguely, having learned long ago to fudge the truth): It’s for a SCHOOL PROJECT.
Mom (pointedly, having learned long ago the clever art of clarification): WHAT project?
Me (proudly): I’m making a Lifesize Trojan Horse.
(A moment of silence. Which in today’s language might translate to “WTF”, ‘cept that Mom never swore. No matter HOW tempted…)
Mom: And how big does your Trojan Horse need to be to qualify as ‘lifelike’?
Me: Oh, at LEAST big enough to hold me and a half dozen other kids. That’s why I need a LOT of newspapers. Oh, and can I borrow your flour bin?
Mom was always stingy with the goods and low on encouraging my bigger pictures, for some reason. I gots a measly 4 cups of flour, some water, and only enough newspapers to build a ‘Miniature Trojan Horse’ (her words, not mine!) As in ‘nearly invisible’, to my way of thinking. Talk about ineffective, short-sighted and BORING!
I figgered not only was I NOT gonna proudly roll up to the gates of Safeway on a commando raid of their candy section in such a model; I wasn’t even gonna make an ‘A’ on my extra credit homework demo, Practical Applied Papier Mache Techniques for Everyday Living and Profitable Gain.
Undaunted, I then did what Mother always hated.
I tapped the neighbors for help.
Now, schoolmates had already paved the way by selling Girl Scout Cookies the month before and thus appealing to wholesome goodness. But I appealed to the neighbors’ innate, base reflex to donate directly to the educational process. It’s amazing how many newspapers one girl and a Red Flyer wagon could accumulate from a neighborhood of newspaper-readers in the course of just a few hours of pleading.
By the time Dad got home from work mid-afternoon, the garage was already half-full and I was well on the path to realizing my Lifesize Trojan Horse dream. (The little matter of “where will I park the car” not only never occurred to me, but was totally unimportant in the scheme of things.)
Parental Advisory: It’s totally unfair and possibly traumatic to a child to (a) have both parents screaming simultaneously about different concerns and (b) to NOT lend one’s total and complete support to a school project and (c) to consider the availability and relative emptiness of a garage to be more important than the actual reincarnation of a LIFESIZE TROJAN HORSE.
My project never got off the ground nor even rolled out of the garage. So to speak.
My newspaper kingdom was unfairly confiscated. Mom the Indian Giver even took back her flour, fergodssakes. (Talk about stingy…)
My entrepreneurial efforts at enlisting the papier mache skills of 4 classmates in exchange for a Ride In a Horse culminating in a Free Candy Raid thus failed for lack of basic materials. AND parental support, might I add.
And my ever-elusive ‘A’, once again, was quashed by the obvious lack of Parental Imagination.
No troubles. I cut to the chase and eliminated the middle-man in the matter.
The next day’s neighborhood newspaper included a small paragraph about the unexpected blitzkrieg of the local Safeway’s candy department by 4 caped masked invaders with the mysterious appearances of dwarf Batmen gone awry on the darker side of justice.
Never let it be said that the end doesn’t justify the means.
Note to early Romans: It’s not how you win or lose: it’s how you play the game.
Trojan horsie or not.