Copyright notice: Droopy Droop Girl Folds Some Cranes

The Droopy Droop Girl Folds Some Cranes

by Ginger Mayerson

During the summer art class, Marie, who some mean girls used to call the Droopy Droop Girl, and her new friends learned how to paint with poster paints and draw with charcoal. This was very messy work, so the teacher, Miss Cora, had them wear old clothes and a plastic apron she helped them make from a garbage bag and shoelaces. Miss Cora wore old clothes and the plastic apron she made to show the little girls how to make their aprons.

Sometimes there were guest teachers for special lessons. The first guest teacher, Miss Sara, showed the girls how to do paper cutouts on tissue paper to make fluttery decorations to string on strings and hang from the ceiling. Another time a guest teacher, Mr. Daniel, taught the girls how to carve potatoes to make stamps and they all made beautiful cards. With another teacher, Miss Kayla, they used red dye to paint animals on white muslin, and then put the cloth in blue dye to get purple animals on a light blue background and they made lovely flags and table napkins. The youngest guest teacher, Miss Linda, was an art student at the local university. She told the girls not to bother with their aprons because they’d be doing origami that day.

The little girls had never heard of such a thing, but they thought the little squares of colorful paper were very pretty. Some were solid colors, some had pretty patterns like their best dresses, and some were white.

“Should we paint the white ones?” Anita asked. Miss Linda said no.

“Should we potato stamp the white ones?” Julie asked. Miss Linda said no.

“Should we cut designs on the white ones?” Nora asked. Miss Linda said no.

Miss Linda held up a white square and said they were going to fold cranes that day and she showed them how to make the folds and then gently pull the wings so the paper cranes stood up by themselves. There were many folds and many things to remember to fold a crane. Miss Linda was a very patient teacher and sat next to each girl to help her with her crane while the others followed along. Soon they were all folding cranes and laughing and talking. Miss Linda told them that origami came from Japan and that for centuries Japanese children learned how to do this. She said that if you fold one thousand cranes, you will always be happy.

“One thousand cranes?!” Nora and Julie and Anita exclaimed.

“One thousand or more,” Miss Linda said.

“That’s a lot,” Marie said softly and began to fold faster. By the end of the hour, she had folded nine cranes and asked if she could take the left over paper home.

Marie folded cranes while waiting for Miss Ida to pick her up. Then she folded cranes in the car on the way to Miss Ida’s house. Then she folded cranes while teaching Miss Ida to fold cranes. She folded cranes in the car on her way home. She folded cranes until dinner, then after dinner until bedtime. Then she folded cranes after breakfast and in the car to Miss Ida’s and folded cranes until lunchtime, and then folded cranes right after lunch. When she ran out of squares, she stated using the magazines in Miss Ida’s recycling basket.

“Marie, do you want to make corn muffins for tea?” Miss Ida asked, looking at Marie’s bent neck and intent face.

“No, ma’am,” Marie said. “I’ve got to fold a thousand cranes.”

“What?” Miss Ida asked.

“I’ve got to fold a thousand cranes.” Marie repeated.

“Why?” Miss Ida asked.

“To be happy.” Marie said, ripping a page from a magazine.

“Oh? And where did you ever hear such a thing?” Miss Ida asked.

“At art class.” Marie was so focused on her crane folding, she never looked up at Miss Ida.

“Well,” Miss Ida said. “Let’s go show your teacher some of these cranes.”

Marie nodded and shoveled the cranes into the tote bag Miss Ida held for her.

Miss Cora was finishing up with a ceramics class, so Miss Ida and Marie sat patiently waiting for the students to leave. Marie’s fingers flew as she made crane after crane.

“Hello, Marie,” Miss Cora said. “Ah, folding cranes, I see.”

“Yes, she is,” Miss Ida said. “Did you tell her she had to fold a thousand cranes to be happy?”

“No,” Miss Cora said.

“Oh. Then why does she think she has to fold a thousand cranes to be happy?” Miss Ida asked.

“Well, let’s ask her,” Miss Cora said. “Marie, why do you think you have to fold a thousand cranes to be happy?”

“That’s the rule,” Marie said bending lower over her work.

“What rule?” Miss Ida and Miss Cora said at the same time.

“It’s the rule Miss Linda told us yesterday,” Marie said.

“I see,” Miss Cora said. “Let’s call Linda and ask her.”

Miss Cora talked on her cell phone while Miss Ida watched Marie fold cranes and tear pages.

“Well, Marie,” Miss Cora said. “Linda said there’s no rule.”

Marie put down the crane she was folding and folded her hands.

“Linda said,” Miss Cora continued. “That folding a thousand cranes for happiness is a custom in Japan.”

Marie looked up at her. “A custom?”

“Yes, a custom like sending a birthday card,” Miss Cora said.

“Or shaking hands,” Miss Ida added.

“Or saying ‘Hello’ when you answer the phone,” Miss Cora said.

“Or calling me Miss Ida and your teacher Miss Cora instead of Ms. Martin and Ms….” Miss Ida looked at Miss Cora.

“Ms. Luna. But I like it when you call me Miss Cora.” She smiled at Marie. “So a custom makes people happy, and if it’s not making you happy, then you can stop or do it differently. It’s your choice.”

“So… is going to bed early a custom?” Marie asked.

“Ah, no, that’s a rule to keep you healthy,” Miss Ida said.

“Holding mama’s hand when I cross the street?” Marie asked.

“Also a rule to keep you safe,” Miss Ida said.

“Putting banana on my cereal?” Marie asked.

“Oh, yes,” Miss Ida said with a smile. “That’s a custom and a choice.”

“Oh,” Marie said. “I understand. Now I will choose my custom to be to only fold cranes when I feel like it!”

“That’s perfect!” Miss Cora said.

“Excellent!” Miss Ida said. “Now what are we going to do with all these cranes?”

“I have some ideas,” Miss Cora said.

So Miss Ida, Miss Cora, and Marie spent the afternoon making crane mobiles, crane necklaces, and a crane diorama with an empty photocopy box turned on its side. They called it “Crane Lake.” Miss Ida cut out some trees and clouds from a magazine, Miss Cora, painted the grass and glued in some blue glitter for the lake, and Marie had to make a few more cranes especially for it. Some of the cranes were on the lake, some were flying, and some where resting on the grass. At the next art class, Marie and her friends laughed and talked and enjoyed themselves while making crane mobiles, crane necklaces, and crane dioramas, which were all very pretty.

Anita made “Cranes at School,” which had cranes flying over a playground.

Julie made “Disco Crane,” which had glittery cranes at a dance party.

Nora made “Crane Families,” which had big and little cranes at home having dinner in one part, and watching TV in another.

The week after that, the girls went back to drawing and painting. They made lots of paintings and drawings of many things, including paintings and drawings of colorful paper cranes.

And Marie and her friends had a very happy summer making pretty things with Miss Cora.

The end

Copyright notice: The Droopy Droop Girl

The Droopy Droop Girl
Ginger Mayerson

There was once a shy little girl named Marie, but almost everyone called her the Droopy Droop Girl because she was always looking at her feet. Some girls were very mean to the Droopy Droop Girl. They wouldn’t play with her. They called her names. They laughed at anyone who was friendly to the Droopy Droop Girl so she ate her lunch all alone and never had anyone to play with at school.

After school, the Droopy Droop girl spent the afternoon with her mother’s friend, Miss Ida. Droopy Droop Girl really had fun at Miss Ida’s house. Sometimes they baked bread or corn muffins. Sometimes they sewed or knitted. Sometimes they polished Miss Ida’s silver while they watched old movies on TV until Droopy Droop Girl’s mama or papa came to take her home. One day the mean girls followed her after school chanting, “Droopy Droop Girl go home! Droopy Droop Girl run away!” Miss Ida stared at them from her front porch and they stopped chanting and ran away themselves.

Miss Ida asked Marie, which was Droopy Droop Girl’s real name, “Are they bullying you?” But Droopy Droop Girl just stared at her feet until Miss Ida said she’d make some peppermint tea for them both. Miss Ida had a lot of old fashion magazines and she had a brilliant idea to cheer up the Droopy Droop Girl. They got out some scissors and made paper dolls from the magazines. They cut the dolls from the thick cover paper and cut out the outfits from the thinner paper inside. They weren’t the most perfect paper dollies, but Miss Ida and Droopy Droop Girl had a lot of fun making them.

The next day, the Droopy Droop Girl took her paper dollies to school. She was playing with them all by herself when the mean girls grabbed them and tore them up. Then they all ran away except one girl. She hadn’t torn up the dolls and hadn’t run away with the others. She picked up some of the torn pieces and gave them to Droopy Droop Girl.

“I’m sorry they tore them up,” she said. “They were so pretty.”

Droopy Droop Girl just stared at her shoes.

“My name is Anita.”

Droopy Droop Girl just stared at her shoes.

“I have tape,” Anita said. “Maybe we can fix them?”

Droopy Droop Girl shook her head. “I can make some more,” she whispered. “I’ll show you tomorrow.”

Droopy Droop Girl and Miss Ida made more paper dolls. Then Droopy Droop Girl asked Miss Ida a question so quietly that Miss Ida has to get very close to hear, “Could I bring a girl here someday?”

“Yes, you may, Marie” Miss Ida said. “Did you make a friend?”

Droopy Droop Girl just stared at her shoes until Miss Ida suggested they make corn muffins to go with their tea.

The next day, Droopy Droop Girl showed Anita the new paper dolls and invited her to Miss Ida’s house. Anita’s mother was glad she had a new friend; she never really liked the mean girls. She walked the girls to Miss Ida’s house, where she had a cup of tea while Miss Ida showed the girls how to make magazine beads by rolling strips of magazine pages on a wire and gluing the ends. When the girls had enough beads, they strung them on a string and wore them around their necks.

The girls were so proud of their beads, they wore them to school the next day. They were admired all morning, but at lunch the mean girls ripped off the necklaces and threw the beads on the ground and stomped on them. Anita and Droopy Drop Girl ran away. But one of the mean girls picked up some of the beads and took them to Anita and Droopy Droop Girl. “I’m sorry,” she said.

“Thank you, Julie,” Anita said, looking sadly at the ruined beads.

Droopy Droop Girl just stared at her feet.

A few days later, Julie and her mother came to Miss Ida’s house to apologize again. Miss Ida was teaching Droopy Droop Girl and Anita to make paper flowers, and Julie made some, too.

Julie, Anita and Droopy Droop Girl took their paper flowers to school the next day. During morning recess, the mean girls tried to grab them, but Nora, one of the mean girls, stopped them. “They’re so pretty!” she said, standing between Anita, Julie, and Droopy Droop Girl. “Leave them alone!”

The other mean girls, all two of them, ran away. After that, Nora, Julie, Anita, and Droopy Droop Girl made paper dolls, rag dolls, bead necklaces, paper flowers, folded paper animals, and knitted, crocheted, and embroidered with Miss Ida or at Droopy Droop Girl’s new friends’ houses. Soon they all had beautiful things to wear and share and they were always leaning new ways to make pretty things.

And nobody called Marie the Droopy Droop Girl anymore, because Marie held her head up with her friends and everyone else. She was still a little shy, but the only time she looked down now was when she was making something.

The end

© Ginger Mayerson 2013