The dress project

We were informed that for kiddo’s school project this year, they were doing a colonial theme, and we had to either sew her a dress, or build a wooden canoe.

One time a year they have some sort of ridiculous project… and so this was this year’s round. One year we had to build an adobe hut… one year we had to help her create an invention… another year it was a complete life sized diagram of the human body with each organ system drawn in different colors of colored pencil… etc.

Every year we grumble about these projects.. because every year they seem like its more a project for the parents than an assignment for the kids.

And so we started our grumbling with the fact that even the pattern for a colonial dress ran about $15… and fabric ended up another $80 or so… and mom paid for it out of her limited income because there was no way that I had an extra $100 laying around, and I was going to go to the school and raise a fit about it being completely unreasonable on expectations.

So the dress gets made, mostly by grandma.

And all through this process, kiddo is complaining about it not being authentic enough… about needing a bonnet, and bloomers, and petticoats, etc etc etc.
We keep trying to explain to her that we’re doing the best we can with what we can do… and eventually do come up with a bonnet pattern… but she’s still not happy.

And then we come to find out, the project was due a week earlier than we’d originally been told… making for a very long weekend of trying to get it done.


And so the dress is finished. A very expensive dress she will never have a reason to wear again.

About 2 weeks later we have the school open house… where all of the projects are to be on display.

We enter the classroom.

And quickly realize that I probably should have followed my instinct to contact the teacher…. because it turns out that she wasn’t the one who had set the unreasonable expectations.

No other project was even remotely close! Nobody else appeared to have spent more than about 10 bucks, and maybe an hour of work if that.

The flag was made of construction paper and tape… not sewn.

So was the drum.

The quill was a bic pen with a feather scotch-taped to it.

There was construction paper, play-doh, popsickle sticks, and scotch tape all over the place.

Three kids actually turned in pieces of crumpled brown paper sacks that had been written on to make various documents.

Even the tea was a cardboard box with tea written on it. (How hard is getting real tea?)


My kid’s excuse for making this project so much worse than it was supposed to be?

“I wanted to do a real dress.”

Knowing we couldn’t afford it… and didn’t have a lot of time to work on it… and that she had no use for it.

Some days parenting seems like such a hopeless effort.



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