Why I Upholstered this S

it's a thing of beauty

it’s a thing of beauty

At 7:20 this morning, I was on my hands and knees with a hot glue gun, purple satin fabric, and a 2-foot posterboard S. At the same time, my children, still in their pajamas, were enjoying themselves in their own ways. (My daughter was Rainbow Looming and my son was annoying her.)

Yes, the instructions SAID “Attached is a large letter of the alphabet which you can help your child decorate for our Christmas program.” But everyone KNOWS that means,

“Adults only, 5+ years experience in visual arts required.” You see, it’s for the Christmas Program, the highest-profile event of the preschool season.

No pressure.

Two years ago, little Eva’s parents let her decorate her own letter – the Dreaded O of 2012. They were naive in thinking they would encourage their daughter’s creative spirit. Eva used a magic marker base and glued sequins over the top, causing the ink to bleed into a pink and purple sequined fracas. After the program, her parents tried to leave the O behind in the fellowship hall, but the assistant director chased after them and handed it over in the parking lot for all to see.

The same year, I am proud to report, we were entrusted with the M, second only to the W in complexity and, let’s face it, sheer real estate. I wish I had a picture of THAT. My daughter consulted, of course. It was her vision to have the interior fill sparkly silver glitter outlined by plush purple and silver garland. We “compromised” by my covering the M in aluminum foil. She then applied a clear spray adhesive and coated the M with a generous layer of silver glitter. I then outlined the whole thing with the garland and my trusty glue gun. M for Mission Accomplished!

It wasn’t as elaborate as Corbin’s family’s L, which his mother spray painted gold and lovingly encrusted with stick-on jewels IN A PATTERN. But, it was an L, after all. Pretty straightforward, if you ask me.

My pride might be a bit misplaced. After all, my son has the S this year instead of the coveted W, but I see it as an engineering challenge. The S has little structural integrity, which is why our “family design team” went with a Stiff Satin and lots of hot glue. Not to make excuses, but my co-designer is a preschool boy who barely registers the letter itself, let alone its dramatic Social Significance.

I gave him a choice of materials and embellishments. He chose the understated route. I can respect that. Think Calvin Klein or Valentino. Our S will Stand out and Shine on stage. It will be disarming in its simple elegance and I will be proud to collect it at the end of the program. Next year’s S family will aspire to our greatness.

Now the S is complete and is in the hands of the preschool teacher (and my son, come to think of it. If anything happens to that S before the Christmas program, …) It’s time to cut the cord and release it into the world, confident in the knowledge that we did our best, and my son will execute his lines with the alphabet letter most suited to him and the student body. Now, we can relax.

If anyone has a problem, they can kiss my S.


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