Support Japan! Fold paper!

I am staring at a letter sent home from my sons’ school last week about the school’s relief efforts in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Efforts have included a bake sale and an art sale (the kids’ art). Great ideas. Love that they’re getting the kids involved.

But the school says, why stop there?

We know that our students like to express their support in more creative and tangible ways. With this in mind, our school will observe the Japanese tradition of making 1,000 origami cranes.

I actually know about this tradition, having been in a play called “A Thousand Cranes” just out of college. I played a nine-year-old Japanese schoolgirl. I know, SO me, right? Anyway, Japanese tradition holds that folding one thousand paper cranes will give the person who folds them a granted wish for luck or healing. My sons’ school liked the sound of this:

Enclosed in this envelope is paper for each student to make three cranes, along with directions for their creation.

I read that sentence, and then cried “NOOOOOO!!” loudly enough to be heard in the next county.

Why do schools do this to mothers? “Here’s something we want your kids to do. Of course, it’s way beyond their capabilities–and ours– so we’ll let you handle it. Have a great weekend!”

I‘m not doing it, I said to myself. I do not have time for this. I actually used to know how to fold an origami crane (I had to do it onstage as part of the play). But that was 1994, and all I remember now is how freaking hard it was to learn to do it when I HAD NO CHILDREN TO TAKE CARE OF AND I WAS BEING GIVEN A SALARY TO SIT THERE AND LEARN HOW.

I maintained my resolution for about three minutes. Then, with a great sigh, I pulled out the instructions and started folding. I wasn’t going to be that mother. I would do what was expected of me, of course I would.

After a few minutes of pleasant-enough folding, I got to step 5:

Bring all 4 corners of the paper together, one at a time. This will fold the paper into a flat square. This square has an open end. It also has two flaps on the right and two flaps on the left. Lift the upper right flap, and crease along lines A-C. 

 And then Mommy said some bad words.

WHAT? An open end with two flaps on both ends? Crease along what? 

I looked at my “crane.” Then I looked at the instructions.
The steps go up to TWENTY-SIX.
A liver transplant would be simpler.
And once I finally taught myself how to do it, I’d have to teach my six-year-old.

I stuffed the instructions, the paper, and the letter back in the envelope they came in. It’s sitting here on my desk. And I’m not doing it. I am just skipping this assignment, and if my kids get any beef for not having folded their three cranes, I am ready. Kind of. 

Of course, I’m also feeling really guilty, and certain this will somehow be the exact wrong mommy assignment for me to have opted out of. But I do think there are many more productive ways for me to display my concern for the people of Japan. And I also have a family to raise.

What do you think? Would you do it? Is there any point at which it becomes acceptable to say: yes, I care, but this is ridiculous?