Sunday, April 06, 2014

Barely controlled chaos

I once had an art professor who said that when his kids drew on the wall, he couldn't get mad at them because he was so proud of their creativity, and didn't want to stifle it. I thought he was crazy. Then I started having kids. And I started filling my house with crayons, and markers, and stamps, and paint, and pencils, and glitter, and ... whatever else art supply stores have to offer, despite the potentially disastrous messes they can make on home and body. Of course I complained about the mess, but I never stopped. I just can't so "no" to art supplies and art making. There's very little in life I like more than those early, balloon-head people kids make where the arms come out of the head, and facial features are optional. You know, something like this (drawn by Dude):
Be still my heart. No seriously though. The name on the side, with that fantastic "E," spelling who-knows-what only adds to my general delight.
Yet somehow despite all this, we had never finger painted. I never really saw the point. Figured I'd give them a "real" art experience by providing brushes and palettes and such. So when I broke out the finger paints between conference sessions today as a reward for some pretty awesome behavior, only the older two had any idea what to do (I assume they picked up the messy habit at school somewhere). Even after I'd given Baby G paper and paint, she just sat there staring at it and looking at me expectantly. Or a little like I was crazy. Aaaaaaannnd, her first move was to paint her face. 
When I explained that he was to use his fingers to move the paint around, dude announced, "That is NOT okay!" Funny little 3 year-old boy who likes to be clean and orderly. He's the kid who refuses to put a sticker on himself because "they go on paper." No stamps on his hand either unless you want to see a major meltdown.
But after a bit, they all got into it. Like REALLY into it. I think I heard each of them announce at some point that they wanted to do this every day. Although it's difficult to be certain. G still sounds remarkably like a minion when she holds entire, serious conversations with me. To which I respectfully nod and smile. Unless that makes her cry. In which case, I do my best to look sympathetic. Or to find her something to eat. But back to speaking of minions ... hilarious thing. On the way back from the doctor on Friday, Dude, who had been incredibly nervous about getting medicine for his croup, let out a relieved sigh, and said, "If it had been purple medicine, it would've turned me into a purple minion!" Phew! Crisis averted!
Surprise, surprise - M had no trouble getting messy!
And J proved that finger painting is not just for preschool. She was as stoked as anyone, despite her natural affinity for perfection and precision.
Once over his initial reluctance, Dude really enjoyed this. He was not done until long after everyone had cleaned up. While he sat there alone, swirling the colors, he observed to me, "Mommy, in finger painting, my fingers are like ice skating!" Then on the way to the bathroom as I stressed the importance of not touching anything, he said, "I don't touch anything. That's because I'm a good boy." Which is true, even if he won't smile normally for a picture!