Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Shrinking The Fun

Hallelujah, the girls are finally at an age where we can proceed with a project and I don't feel like pulling my hair out. It's a blessed thing when they realize that every piece of the craft does not need to be thrown on the floor, smeared on their person or the table, or catapulted across the room.

Hooray for new phases!

In celebration of their new crafting trustworthiness, today we made Shrinky-Dinks.

Do you remember Shrinky-Dinks? I think the bulk of my childhood is wrapped around them, somehow. I simply cannot begin to explain how much I liked them.

Nor am I able to explain exactly why.

What is it about coloring, cutting, baking, and observing that could possibly be so exciting? It doesn't seem like very much, but somehow it endlessly amazed me.

I'd color; always careful to do my best. I'd cut; aware of each line and curve. I'd bake; face pressed against the little window on the oven, waiting for that miraculous moment when my creations would begin the magic dance of curling, bending, and shrinking.

It all happened so fast! You'd have to be right there to witness it. Blink and it would be over.

Smurfs. Rainbow Brite. He-Man. Transformers. Scooby Doo. All colored and shrunk out of obligation and whim.

I, being the youngest (and only girl), always got stuck with the ones no one wanted. The uncool He-Man dude. Thelma. Brainy Smurf. A Decepticon. But Rainbow Brite was all mine.  I took my time coloring each form and baking them one at a time, hoping to make the joy last.

Then of course came the dilemma of what to do with these now shrunken, slightly useless, not quite so much fun items. I remember they came with a few stands to put them in , so I recall shuffling them about on a table, creating some manner of play with them. And then.......well.....who knows. I came across Rainbow Brite not too long ago, shoved in some forgotten box I'd opened. My memories were stirred.

Thus our project today.

The girls dutifully colored their forms; now on paper that you have trace out yourself on the shrinking paper. (Gone are the days of branded Shrinky-Dinks, and aren't we the poorer for it?) I did the honor of cutting, partly due to the difficulty of cutting the paper, but mostly out of the selfish desire to relive my youth. Cookie sheet in the oven, we waited for the magic to start, faces pressed against the oven window. Well, face pressed against the window. The girls were not nearly as excited as I was about what was going to occur, and had skipped away, returning only in response to my squeals of girlish delight and calls of, "They're shrinking! They're shrinking!" (I'm not proud of my zealous response, nor am I ashamed. I also jump and clap at the mere sight of a Hot Air Balloon. Love me despite the faults.)

I may have gotten more out of today's craft than they did. That's okay. There is something indescribably perfect about sharing something cherished from my childhood with them. Even if all they ever do is roll their eyes and think I'm slightly mental, I'm sharing a piece of myself with them. Reaching out from across the span of time,  from my childhood to theirs. They may never latch onto any of it, but the connection is made and the circle made full when we do it together.

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