Wednesday, May 8, 2019

You’re Good at Door Decorating and Other Lies my Kids’ Teachers Have Told Me

It started innocently enough with a group of school moms deciding to surprise all the teachers with decorated classroom doors for Teacher Appreciation Week. It should have been a red flag that all the other moms were so much more excited about this than me. I volunteered for my daughter’s prekindergarten classroom. I perused Pinterest and found literally hundreds of “Thank You Teachers” door decorating ideas. How hard could this be?

A blank canvass for me to completely humiliate myself with

I retrieved a giant piece of paper from those massive paper rolls from the school supply room. The plan was to get it ready at home and then all the moms were meeting on Sunday night to hang them. That way on Monday morning all the teachers would get to school and be surprised when they got to their classrooms.

I wanted to be really prepared and on top of things. Unfortunately being the procrastinator that I am I waited until a few hours before it was time to go to start putting my door covering together, I had found an elaborate example with flowers and vines that took up practically a whole hallway rather than just the door. It said, “Thank you for helping us grow.” 

I thought to myself, "That is way over the top. Who in their right mind has time for something that extravagant? I will do a much simpler and more reasonable version for my door. Besides, we were just Mom volunteers, no one was going to expect perfection, right?"

“Let’s do this!” I psyched myself up as I started to hand write the saying and about halfway through realized that it was not centered. Also my handwriting was nothing to brag about. “Damnit. Oh well, I just need to get this done,” I told myself and began cutting flowers out of construction paper and positioned them here and there. 

At this point my kids realized I was crafting and insisted on helping. Now the flowers were all in one corner and the rest of the door blank. My door was looking more like a table covering that you lay down so kids don’t ruin it while they do art than my Pinterest inspired vision of simplicity sheek. 

I was running out of time so I packed up what I had and headed to school. The PreK classroom was right by the entrance so I got right to work. I unrolled my primitive piece of art and used what felt like an entire roll of masking tape to secure that sucker to the door. It was too small. And the window was covered. The principal gave us explicit instructions to not cover the windows on the doors. I had to cut out a rectangle to make it clear. With the window chunk went the Th in Thank you. Fuck.

I was trying to figure out how to fix it when another mom walked by and offered assistance. She was all done with her door and had extra cut out letters left over. Cut out letters! Of course, why didn’t I think of that? I suddenly felt a like an idiot with my shitty handwritten letters. She put a T and H on the window. You could still see in the window but now the word Thank was complete again. I stepped back, hands on my hips and breathed a sigh of completion as I gazed at my finished product. 

“Where’s your border?” The other mom asked me cheerily. “I can get it started for you.”

Ummmm.... What the hell is she talking about? “I, uh... we were supposed to have a border?” I stammered.

“Oh! I mean, you can do whatever you want,” She said, “but a border really helps bring it all together. I have loads of extra if you want to use one of mine!” She unzipped what I thought was a suitcase but was actually a crafting headquarters on wheels. She had several rolls of different themed bulletin board borders. “Here, try this one. I think it matches your flowers perfectly.” 

“Ok, thanks!” I said and started to attach the border around the outside of the paper. She helped me the way my daughter’s teacher helps her write her name. I could tell she genuinely enjoyed putting together creations like this. When we were all finished, I thanked the mom for her help. “What door did you do,” I asked.

“Kindergarten!” She smiled excitedly, “Do you want to see it?” 

“Sure!” I was pretty sure she was way more interested in showing me her project than I was in seeing it but I was curious what she had come up with. We walked down the hall to a door straight off Pinterest. Not only was it exactly the right size, but it had the window cut out perfectly and a perfect border made of hundreds of paper coffee beans. She had printed out pictures of everyone in the class and cut them in circles. In place of the Starbucks symbol on cups that were cut in half and glued to the door so that they stuck out were 20 adorable gap toothed smiles. The tops of each cup were filled with crumpled up white paper that looked like cream. The background was a mix of green and black chevron stripes and burlap. In elaborate cut out letters in various fonts it said, "Thanks a Latte!"  

Oh shit. Oh fuck. Oh no, no, no. 

I suddenly felt like I was wearing sweatpants at a black tie event. The other mom beamed at my stunned reaction. “Wow,” was all I could muster. 

What was I thinking going for simplicity? I suddenly took notice to what was happening at all the other doors in the school. All of them, with the expectation of mine, looked like the examples that I saw on Pinterest. My daughter’s poor teacher was getting the short end of the stick. Maybe I could run to the craft store and quick get back to add some more stuff to my door. It was too late though, all the moms were finishing up and then the school was going to get locked up.

The next morning I brought my daughter to school and did a sort of walk of shame to her classroom. Her teacher was wonderful and deserved just as Pinteresty a door as all of the other teachers. My daughter beamed when saw the door to her room. To her, it was a masterpiece and she was too young to be embarrassed by her mediocre door decorating mother. “Mrs. Smith! Mrs. Smith!” she shouted, “Did you see the door? Did you see the door? My Mommy made it! And I even got to help!”

I half smiled. Maybe I could away with saying my 4 year old did it all on her own. 

Mrs. Smith gave me a giant hug. A genuine hug, not the quick hello kind. “Thank you so much for this!” she told me with tears in her eyes, “It was such a lovely surprise when I got to school this morning!”

“You’re very welcome!” I said, “I’m sorry that your door isn’t as fancy as some of the others.”

“Oh it’s wonderful! I actually hate decorating my door so I’m always happy whenever I don’t have to do it. But seriously, it’s just so nice to be appreciated. I was not expecting this at all.”


“It’s nothing compared to all you do for the kids,” I said.

“Oh, I love these kids. Your daughter is such a sweetie too. She is such a good listener.”


My mind flashed back to a half an hour ago when I had to tell her 15 times to get her shoes on. “Well I’m still sorry that your door isn’t Pinterest worthy like the others.”

“Stop! You took time out of your life to do this for me and I’m truly grateful!" 

I gave her a skeptical smile.

"I’m serious, now stop.” she ordered me.

Damnit, now she had me tearing up. Even still, next year I’m buying the teachers bottles of wine and I will leave the door decorating to the experts.

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