One of our kid’s favourite thing to do it to simply cover the table in white paper and have at ‘er with a little paint. At every beginning, the stale, boring adult in me is usually a little whiny about it – I’m envisioning paint trekked through the house, fights with paint brushes, and the messy cleanup later. I really wish this wasn’t my first reaction though – I wish my default was excitement and intrigue, but I’m working on that. I’m learning that what usually ends up happening when you trust your kids and their ideas is the stuff of true creativity.
Today, the kids found the finger paints in the art basket and asked to use them. I cringed. I had actually meant to hide those paints until later, when I was ready for the paint to be let out. I may have even audibly whined a little. Still, I followed them and their idea to paint on the table. We taped white craft paper over the whole table and I gave explicit instructions: NO painting on yourself or others, use paintbrushes – not your fingers, help me clean up after. They were eager, so there was no problem getting them to comply. I also asked them to take a moment before beginning to think of something they might like to design or create with their paint. I like the idea of being both thoughtful and spontaneous with art – so there can be process and exploration. I didn’t think they were listening – but I was wrong.
My seven-year old proudly stated, about five minutes in, that he was painting ‘Jellybean Row’, which is how the colourful attached houses in downtown St. John’s are described. I knew he was identifying with this place, but this art project was giving him a chance to express that. I was proud of him.
Then my husband sat down and grabbed a paint brush and suddenly it was a family event. I grabbed a paint brush too and challenged everyone to fill in all the spaces.
In the end, there was painting on others and it was ok. There was a lot of crazy-energy painting and that was ok too. Finger painting was even involved. One of the biggest lessons I’m learning with kids is that they are trustworthy and oh so much more creative and driven towards all things fun and worthwhile than I could ever hope to be. I’m learning.
The final product is now hanging in their room in this rental house of ours. For now, it’s where we belong.