This week marks the 100th day of school for my kindergartner. And because it’s important for parents to be involved in the education of their children, there was a take home assignment for us, I mean the kids. Our teacher thoughtfully provided us with a grid with 100 empty 1”x 1” spots to be filled in with 100 somethings of our choosing to be displayed in the classroom until the end of the month. I remember doing this with my son. We collected 100 pennies. I don’t remember doing this with my older daughter. But that’s pretty much the story of her childhood.

The assignment is not complicated. Except…

There’s always that one mom. The one who is crafty. And imaginative. And patient. The one who comes up with the ideas that we all re-pin on Pinterest. The one who thinks that intricately decorating cookies or cupcakes for celebrations (Arbor Day! Gluten Free Day!)  is fun. The one who hosts at-home parties with personalized, handcrafted favors. The one who knows where to find the Cricuts in the Hobby Lobby. The one who knows what Cricuts are and how to use them. The one who starts craft projects without having to gag down bile at the thought of how long it will take to clean them up once they’re finished or abandoned in despair.

It’s not that I want to compete with this mother. Okay, I a little bit want to compete with this mother. But it’s more that I just want to have a good showing. I want to place. Damn it, I want the much-maligned participation trophy.

I blame this mom for the fact that I dismissed all of my daughter’s simple suggestions like stickers, plastic gems, Skittles and washi tape.

My idea was far more elaborate and far less practical, especially considering I don’t have a crafty bone in my body.  I decided that we should make a different thumbprint animal in each spot of the grid. My daughter balked. She didn’t want to get her fingers dirty. Totally not adopted.

And on second thought, though the idea had merit in the creativity and innovation department, it fell short in the all important Make-It-Look-Like-We-Worked-Hard-When-We-Really-Phoned-It-In category.

“We” were still thinking (read: I was still frantically Googling “100 Day Projects”) when a friend threw a wrench. She had added an educational component to her project.

Super. So now we were looking for a creative, unique, easy learning experience. Coming right up.

We finally compromised on something that was interesting to my daughter, acceptable to me and, (I thought) relatively simple to execute.

We’d name 100 of her friends.

Because she’s six. So of course she’d have 100 friends.

Turns out, by listing every single kid in the grade (so no one felt left out – empathy points!), adding in friends from the neighborhood and cheating slightly by including siblings, cousins and a few friends of siblings, we squeaked it in after only a week of agony and sleepless nights (mine).

I quickly rejected the idea that I would take individual photos of each kid because, let’s face it, that’s just showing off.

So, Plan B was to use names printed in colored ink. Except the color printer was on the fritz. Sooo,

We ended up printing the names in black and white. We cut out each name into a square that perfectly fit the grid (Cutting practice! Using a ruler!), colored each individual square (Coloring in the lines! Reading color names on crayons! Burnt Sienna!), and glued them (We don’t eat paste!) into the grid.

As we worked, we reminisced and told stories about each child. She told me about some of the kindergartners who I didn’t know but whom she had met. I told her that some of the unfamiliar names were “friends-in-waiting” (Creative manipulation of the facts!).

She carefully considered which color each friend might like before coloring them so here’s a hint, if your kid’s square isn’t their favorite color, you can be sure I colored that one. Once all the squares were colored, we placed them on the grid, moving them around until we liked the effect (Color wheel! Complementary colors!). Then, we sat back and admired our work.

We had been afraid that some of the colors would be too dark or too light or too drab. We had worried that maybe some of the colors wouldn’t blend well with the others. We wondered how they would all work together. We debated about what color my daughter’s square should be.

But when it was done, we marveled that each color on its own was pretty but when we put them all together they were spectacular. We talked about how all those special colors, just like the kids they represented, were part of her. And we made my daughter’s square a rainbow.


  1. Mom says:

    Your grid was fabulous, Margaret! I love it. I bet it was the most beautiful.

    Beth – You continue to be an entertaining and gifted writer. Love you all.

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