paper mache space helmets

in process


efore you ask, they’re not finished yet.

Weeks of Ray Bradbury stories and the occasional classic Twilight Zone episode are culminating in a series of original science-fiction plays in Roy’s fourth grade reading class. In his play, Roy has secured the role of a devil-may-care space ship captain from Australia.

He’s very excited about doing an Australian accent.

The other thing Roy’s excited about is the costume design—specifically, the creation of his astronaut helmet. Well, he’s mostly enthusiastic about talking about his helmet being made. (By Scott.)

Then, two weeks ago, I ran into one of the other astronaut’s mothers. Was I aware, she wanted to know, that Roy had offered to make her child’s astronaut helmet, also? You know: so they’d match.

I was entirely unaware of this, I told her. (Also unaware: Scott) The mom and I laughed together and made a gentlewoman’s agreement to equally distribute the work of costuming our fourth-grade astronauts. Our family (just Scott, really) would make paper mache space helmets. Hers would devise uniform shirts complete with patches representing each astronaut’s respective country of origin. (Australia!)

Later that same week, I made a point of waving to that same astronaut’s mom from the doorway of the class. I held up two fingers and nodded reassuringly: not to worry, I non-verbally communicated, we (Scott only) had the space helmet situation in-hand. My comrade-in-arms slowly shook her head at me and held up three fingers.

Not two. Three.

“Roy,” I began testily that afternoon, “did you tell that other child that we would make a helmet for her, too?”

“But she’s our biologist,” he explained to me, confused. “She won’t survive in space without a helmet.”

They are blooming on our table now, drying around $3 beach balls and overturned planters. Not yet finished, already they are in need of patching in places where the paper mache split, its drying-self eventually insufficient to cover the space for which it had been intended. The helmets are still days away from being completed, painted silver, each sporting a matching light in the center (“I’m going for more of an Alien, Giger-y thing.” –Scott) to see into the murky darkness of unexplored space caves, but I see them for what they really are: the wobbly paper fruit born of a 10-year-old’s impulsive generosity.

As you can see, it’s a bumper crop.

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