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Coming of Age by Way of Peeps

The Washington Post Annual Peeps Contest, words that stir the imagination and strike fear in the heart of diorama makers across the DC area. After years of the kids looking at all the Peeps Contest entries showcased in the Washington Post around Easter, last year the kids decided they wanted to submit their own entry. Doug helped with drawing up plans, procuring supplies, and constructing the replica of the cracked Washington Monument being fixed by an army of small yellow marshmallow bunnies. It was a work of art! They worked tirelessly on it for a week.

It did not win.

It didn’t even make it into the gallery of entries shown on the Post website.

The kids took it in stride, they worked very hard and learned that sometimes even hard work doesn’t pay off. All they were left with was a giant out-of-proportion replica of the monument and painted peeps as hard as rocks. Compelling as it was to keep that work of art for posterity, it hit the trash can a few months after Easter.

So when the announcement of this year’s contest came out in the Post, I didn’t mention it to the kids. They’d tossed some ideas around over the last few months and mentioned the contest in passing, but there didn’t seem to be a lot of interest.

So I thought.

They found the announcement in the Sunday paper and set it aside. They mentioned making some sort of obscure scene from the TV show “Dr. Who” that made no sense to me, so I let it slip from my mind. I didn’t hear much of anything after that.

Doug and I initially left the kids home alone when we took off for Austin. That wasn’t the plan, my mom was scheduled to fly in the day before we left but bad weather in the midwest affected her flight out of Buffalo. She was delayed by more than a day and with this turn of events, we’d be leaving for Austin at 8am while she wouldn’t be getting into Washington until 6pm that night. I’d be lying if I said I had second thoughts – I didn’t, not even for half a second. The kids would fare fine for a a day on their own, in fact they’d enjoy it I was sure.

It definitely is the dawning of a new era when you as parents can fly out of town and leave your kids behind fending for themselves, if even for just a day. This was not lost on me at any point – it was an acute awareness – though not concern – but an awareness from my very center that something really big had just shifted in our lives. Kids that can fend for themselves, and happily at that. That’s big.

I knew the Peeps Contest deadline would come and go while we were away and chose not to say anything. I figured if it meant enough to the kids, they’d come up with something.

And that they did.

Our flight to Austin was by way of Chicago, where we had a layover and plane change. I called the kids to check in with them while we had a few spare minutes. Winnie answered and when I asked what they were up to, she said they were about to ride their bikes to the store to buy some Peeps for their diorama.

Well OK then.

I reminded them that they’d put away a box of Peeps last year for exactly this purpose and guided them to the box of hardened bunnies stashed away in the bottom of the pantry cupboard. They were thrilled. Obstacle number one – overcome.

They weren’t sure how they were going to photograph and upload their entry, as Doug and I had taken both cameras with us and left them with none. They thought maybe they’d use Caty’s iPad phone, but it was too finicky to trust. Our next door neighbors had just left for Oklahoma. My mom’s iPhone account hadn’t been configured to email. I didn’t see how they were going to work this one out.

Silly me.

A few days later, while checking my email in Austin, I received an auto-confirmation email from the Washington Post, thanking Winnie, Caton and Aster for their entry. All I could think of was “no way!”.

Shortly after I got that confirmation email, I got an email from Winnie that read:

“Our Peep diorama! We probably put in a solid 7+ hours since Wednesday. Thank heavens for Aster’s camera, or we never could have taken the pictures. It took Caty and I forever to figure out how to upload the pictures, but as you can see, we eventually did! I never want to see another Peep again. Painting those things was a PAIN IN THE ASS.

Hope you have a great finale to your trip!”

and signed: Winnie, Caty, and Aster

that arrived with two pictures of their masterpiece:



To say I was floored is an understatement. I was utterly shocked but at the same time floating on air. Not only had I left my kids home alone (it was only a day, but still, we flew out of town and were in no position to get back to them any time quick, if anything had happened), they took this project on entirely themselves, made the diorama, got a hold of a camera (a promotional gift we’d received and passed on to Aster several months ago), loaded the camera software onto their computer, downloaded the photos (something they’d never done before), saved them, and then uploaded them to the Washington Post site.

How could this be???

Had I been home, I would never in a million years have given my kids enough credit to pull all that off on their own.

But they did, and flawlessly.

It was extremely eye opening and heart opening. My whole parenting world feels like it’s spinning on a different axis now.

And I think I might like it.

Life in Stitches

Sorting Through the Aftermath