Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Masked One or When I Was Good

Once upon a time, in a land far away, there was a mother who was less utilitarian about her homeschooling than she is now. And this mother, who was reading her children the fabulous The Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper, thought it might be a nice idea to plan a craft activity related to the books. When reading aloud she came to a chapter where Will, the main character, is sent a West Indian carnival mask and her brain began to plan. She gathered clay and plaster soaked bandages and cling wrap and paints of many colours and, gathering the children to her in the kitchen, explained the craft.

The children sculpted a head of clay and let it dry outside in the sun. They covered it with cling wrap and soaked the plaster bandages till soft. Then they complained that this was too messy and could the mother do this bit ? But the mother gently insisted that they do it themselves, and having heard this tone before, the children wisely gave up on their complaints and plastered the clay head, being especially careful to smoodge it into the crevices around his nose. And when it was dry they painted it gaily in colours approximating a West Indian carnival mask and the mother was proud.

Despite carefully teaching her daughters the art of decluttering, the mother was so proud - mostly of the fact that she actually got her act together to buy the plaster bandages - that she let the mask linger. For years. And when she finally made the decision to toss the mask, whose edges were beginning to crumble and fray, she took a photo to remember it by. Then she took a deep breath and stuffed it into the back of the hall cupboard, because - as she explained to her bemused daughters - she wasn't quite ready to let go of it yet.


  1. Oh, Melissa. Your last bit made me instantly go, Ohhhhh, and smile so big, in recognition and connection. You are so like me! I couldn't have thrown it away either.

    I LOVE The Dark is Rising series. Have read and re-read it. My boy got to the last book and stopped. Stopped! How is that possible? Maybe I'll re-re-read it so that he's drawn, irresistibly, to picking up that final book and being swept away.

    I love this post. All of it, from the title (which rocks) on down. Lovely.

  2. That´s funny, I'm in throw away mode too, it's so hard. Love the mask, wish I was that crafty with our homeschooling. We do a lazier version of paper mache on an inflated balloon, let dry and pop the balloon.