Saturday, January 7, 2012
Ask anyone, and they will tell you how incredibly creative and artistic I am. It's my "thing". I was terrible at both sports and social interaction as a child, and so, whether by default or actual skill and interest, I took to creating craft projects alone in my room. It was heaven. I was a whiz with the glue gun, and could turn any shoe box and scrap of fabric into a four poster Edwardian Barbie bed. Magic. Obviously, Barbies are only cool until you're fourteen (right?....), so I eventually evolved my crafting into actual art projects, using actual art supplies. My parents lovingly accepted and encouraged my interest in art and resulting rejection of socialization, and didn't question my home-made, sometimes fashionably questionable additions to my hair, backpack, shoes, whatever. If I could get my hands on it, I Modge Podged the living daylights out of it. My then-boyfriend and now-husband (yes,we're high school sweethearts, how cute, it happens in real life) found it endearing (I think) that I'd show up with hand crafted tokens of teenage love for him, and would trail behind me at art museums while we we dating. I even made it through three semesters towards an art degree before morning sickness and the prospect of diaper changing trumped my indie hippie art maker tendencies and turned me into the respectable conservative I am today (ha ha ha ha ha, irony at it's finest). Of course, babies need crafted tokens of love, too, so I left one medium for another, and turned to knitting crazy things and painting super cool murals on my kid's walls. I dabbled in arts and crafts when I found the time and energy, trying to stay fresh and have a good outlet for the mama crazies (you know what I'm talking about). As the girls got bigger, I got excited thinking about all the awesome art projects and crafting skills I'd impart on them. Starting small and easy, I got crayons, stickers, colored paper, stuff like that, and then when it was all set up and I had finished my model, I let the girls join. Right away, something was not right. Instead of being the free spirited fun loving who cares if there's a mess we are making art magic mom I had thought I'd be, I found myself hovering and anxious about crayon getting on the table, stickers over lapping and improper use of materials (i.e. as food items). What is happening? They are not making art, they are making a mess! I'd panic and cut it short, and of course, the girls would be disappointed. Every time the girls would ask to "make projects", I would have a terrible nastiness welling up inside of me, thinking about all of the stuff I'd have to get out, all of the stuff I'd have to clean up, and all of the stuff I'd have to put away. It didn't help, either, that their skill levels were completely different, so while the blonde could handle a glitter pen fairly well, the brunette could not, but would want to because her sister did, and I would have to intervene to stave off glitter clumps. The baby just ate stuff and stood on the table. It made for a stressful endeavor. I knew this was awful, this was not the kind of mom I wanted to be, but I just couldn't shake my aversion to making crafts with the girls. In an attempt to change it, I got the blonde a craft supply bucket for Christmas last year thinking that the new materials would make it more fun for both of us, but it turns out I dreaded puffy balls and popsicle sticks more that I hated watercolors. On the other side, this craft bucket opened the blonde's eyes to a whole world of crafting possibilities, and her natural interest in art projects grew. Every day, she would ask to do a project, and most times, regrettably, I'd either sneakily put it off until it was too late to get out the craft bucket, or I'd get it out and hover irritably over every drop of glue. Not fun. Not for me, anyways. The blonde was well aware of my hovering, and did not like it. She had her own vision, and I was ruining it, and one day, she simply reminded me "I can do it myself". Bam. Right in the heart. She can do it herself. She can do it well, even, for a four year old. Alright then, here's some paper, some paint, some glue, feathers, puffy balls, have at it. And how nice it was. She thoroughly enjoyed crafting on her own, and I enjoyed just watching. We chatted about whatever she was making, and although the brunette still required some assistance, I began to remind myself that she, too, can do it herself. Mostly. Kind of. She was only sort of interested anyways. Slowly, I am finding myself relaxing a bit over the prospect of crafting, and the blonde has made out this Christmas with a new plethora of art supplies and craft projects, so I will have plenty of opportunity to remind myself that hovering is not required, and kids art supplies are washable. I know it will get easier as they get older, but who am I to deny the joy of being creative now. I can say one thing, I am grateful that my parents were supportive of my interests as a child, and I hope to do the same for my own children, but I can't help but wonder if the fact that I crafted alone in my room made it easier for my mom to be encouraging - she never saw the hot glue on the carpet or the bottle of sequins spilled down the vent. Well, maybe as soon as we get over the scissors hump, my girls can craft in secret, too.