The creation of a diorama is a rite of passage for all parents of – oops! Pardon me – children in the early years of school.
Parents must learn (Sorry: there I go again)… children should learn to create dramatic displays that highlight their vision and are commensurate with their skills.
Consider my daughter’s most recent project. She had to create a diorama based on her recent research of an animal of her choice; and she chose zebras. Zebras? Zebras?!
I had tried to convince her to consider an octopus, or a preying mantis, a vampire bat, or maybe a penguin (proof that God has a sense of humor). But Zebras? (I reminisced about my own experience when Theresa Hynes turned to me in fourth grade and, upon hearing that I chose the element molybdenum on which to do my report – while everyone else was doing oxygen or hydrogen or carbon – said “you would pick something no one ever heard of.”) So it was zebras.
She completed the research report; and it was an excellent one at that. I never knew that the one purpose of the stripes is to confound the stereo vision of predators; or that the alternating black and white stripes creates regions of light absorption and reflection that, in turn facilitates heat conduction and exchange in their bodies on the hot plains. Good stuff! And then it came time to construct the diorama.
“OK,” I said, “Now how about we recreate the plains of Africa and place a herd of zebras and off in the corner a lion is eating a zebra she has just killed – red paint for blood and some brown Play-doh for the organs that spilled out.”
A look of horror came over her face and she exclaimed, “No! They will be grazing!”
“OK, then how about a lion just hanging out in the corner checking out the zebras – just for the drama of the diorama?”
“But they gotta be doing something! They can’t just stand there!” I rebutted.
“OK, how about we hang a helicopter from the top of the diorama and Sarah Palin is leaning out with an assault rifle, trying to take down a few?”
I gather myself up for one last Hail Mary pass.
“OK, say, one is sitting back playing the flute or lute, like one of those half man, half horse animals in ancient Greece. Say, he just got out of prison and is still wearing stripes?”
She quietly walks away.
I turn to my son. His diorama is up next. He wants to do the Titanic. “There’s hope,” I say to myself as I say to him “Now we use a plate of glass and split the diorama and place miniature people in the water about to be crushed as the ship breaks in two.”
“I just want to see the boat floating on the water,” he answers.
Where has the drama gone?