Mom! Dad! Look what we made at afterschool today. It’s a dinosaur robot walking through a strawberry ice cream sundae that’s erupting like a volcano. We made it because we were talking about the solar system. It’s made of tissue paper, pipe cleaners, cotton balls, popsicle sticks, Styrofoam packing peanuts, homemade slime, CVS receipts, dried apple peels, and exactly one hundred and thirteen tiny plastic beads. Only the paint’s still wet and the glue’s not dry and the whole thing is a little wobbly if you touch it, so to keep it safe can you please carry this home for me through this torrential rainstorm?
No, we’re not allowed to leave it here until tomorrow because we’re supposed to be responsible for all our own stuff. So please be careful with it because at this moment it is the most perfect and important thing in the world to me and the slightest damage will be devastating. This is basically a Horcrux, and whatever happens to it will happen to my soul.
As you know, under present conditions, the five-block walk home will feel longer and more treacherous than a march of the penguins through the fiercest Antarctic winter. It’s a good thing that all you have to carry is Mom’s purse, Mom’s shoulder bag, Dad’s messenger bag, that slightly ripped WNYC tote bag that’s stuffed with three times the volume of groceries it’s able to support, my sister’s cello, my backpack (pleeeeease? I’m tired), and, oh yeah, my allergy medicine that just expired and they said you need to bring them a new one tomorrow (here you go).
Here, Dad — why don’t you hand all that other stuff over to Mom and carry the project. You need to hold one corner between your fingers, then put your other hand out flat for the dangly parts to rest on, then curl your whole arm around to keep the little beads from falling off, and steady the Dixie cup on a stick with your chin so it doesn’t get bent or anything. Not like that! You just lost six beads! They fell in this puddle where Sebastian K. and Sebastian T. threw up at snack time. Don’t worry, it’ll only take me fifteen minutes to find them.
Did you bring an umbrella? No? Then maybe Mom can take off her coat and hold it over Dad like a canopy to keep the project dry. Make sure there’s room for me. Also, Mom, why don’t you stand in front of Dad and walk backward to shield the project from these gale-force winds. If the cello’s in the way, maybe you can just drop it and kick it down the block as we walk. What? It’s just a cello. It’s big and heavy and it’s in a hard case and everything. Whereas this project contains no material with a density greater than that of reduced-calorie popcorn and is held together with nothing but off-brand glue stick, twice-reused Scotch tape, saliva, and a child’s naïve faith in permanence and stability. Actually, I think when I was using the glue stick I left the cap on so it might not actually have glued anything.
Only two blocks to go now. Steady! Don’t let the slime slide off. It’s supposed to look exactly like the Washington Monument. Mom, pull the pipe cleaners out of Dad’s nose. And I told you that you were going to drop the cello! No, leave it. It’s fine. Look at how that taxi slammed into it and barely made a dent. Oh, cool, now it’s hailing! I’m going to walk with my hands cupped to catch the hailstones so I can put them in the freezer when we get home so I can play a prank on you next summer and drop them on your head while you’re sleeping.
Okay, now carefully open the front door for me because I’m carrying the hailstones. You can turn the key with your teeth — I’ve tried it and it totally works. Up the stairs now, gently — watch out, Dad, you’re listing to your left and letting the paint drip all over your pants! Okay, well, now it’s dripping on Mom’s pants. Just let Mom push the apartment door in slowly with her butt and… we made it! Great teamwork, everyone! By the way, the hailstones started to melt so I ate them.
Well, it looks like it’s screen time, which means I’m about to forget I ever made this ridiculous thing. Just put it on Mom’s dresser along with the 72 other projects and drawings that I won’t acknowledge unless I see you try to get rid of them, in which case I’ll shriek like you’re tearing my arms off. Also, tomorrow we’re talking about photosynthesis, and I need to bring in corn syrup, marshmallows, dryer lint, spackle, two units of O-negative blood, and an original copy of my birth certificate. I can’t wait to see what we make!