The news arrived sometime last week - typed on a slip of paper in Erin's backpack: "Easter Parade to be held on March 30, creative, fancy hats required."
My inner bedazzler immediately jumped for joy. Before I pulled out of the parking lot, I had four prototypes sketched out in my head. I was channeling Judy Garland, humming Irving Berlin, picturing Erin grandly strutting through the gym arm-in-arm with the likes of Fred Astaire and Peter Lawford.
I could hardly wait to get home and whip out my glue gun.
"Did anyone start making this hat yet?" one mother asked the next day at pick-up time.
"No," someone else countered. "I'm completely dreading this."
"Me too," another mom added. "I guess I'll just pour glitter all over it and try and make it look presentable."
I nodded along.
"Such a pain in the neck," I said.
Fifteen mothers all agreeing over the extracurricular nuances of preschool.
Normally, I'm on the same page as everyone else. The at-home projects, wrapping paper fundraisers and holiday goody-bag patrol can be completely overwhelming. But because I'm a closet crafter, this was an entirely different story.
How could I admit in front of all these people that I had already been to three stores, cleaned Michael's clear out of glitter eggs and was planning a family hat decorating dinner party to celebrate the occasion?
To be clear, I'm no overachiever. It's just that I've had a strange fascination with the arts and craft world since I was a kid. When my friends were riding bikes on the weekend, I was doing needlepoint. Hopscotch and hide-and-seek? Nope. I was making my own friendship bracelets, hooking rugs and trying my hand at a complicated paint-by-number.
My sister predicted that I'd be making tissue-box cozies by the time I was in my thirties. She was close, I suppose.
Last Friday night, I spread all of my craft-store bounty on my mother's dining room table and went to work.
"Love this!" my mother - a fellow crafter - said as she pulled yellow glitter eggs and strings of lime green grosgrain ribbon out of my bags.
For hours we cut, glued, laughed and introduced Erin to our weird and creative world. The house was ensconced in the warm smells of melting glue sticks. The sound of crinkling cellophane filled the room.
"Could it get any better than this?" I thought as my mother and I fastened strips of velcro to a pink straw topper and filled in the gaps with very realistic-looking fake blades of grass.
"She might have the most outrageous hat in the whole parade," my mother commented as we put the finishing touches on a bonnet that now measures more than one foot tall and weighs about three pounds.
"I can't see, mommy," Erin said as we placed this monster on top of her head. "It's really heavy."
Crap. Judy Garland's hat never made her fall over in that movie, right?
So we made some adjustments, took a couple of the heavier items off and added a chin strap to fasten this thing down. Is it wrong to hot glue it to her head on the day of the parade?
It might be a little outrageous, yes, but it sure was a lot of fun.