Sunday, September 1, 2013

I'm Afraid of Art

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I know I'm not alone in being a mom who heads for the hills at the very mention of doing a potentially messy or open-ended art or craft project with young children. In fact, I know I've read more than a few blog posts on the subject.

The completely embarrassing element of my mortal fear of kids plus art materials is this: I'm an artist.

I want to be creative with my kids -- I do. I even have a Pinterest board filled with the projects I'd like to do with the boys. I would love to sit in the front yard with Bug and Pie and do pastel sketches of the flowers. But I can't do it.

Just the thought of the mess and all the unknown variables sends me running for the Xanax. Bright colors all mixed together into a muffin tin full of muddy brown. Paint all over pants. Brand-new pots of Play-Doh smushed into a glob of smoky gray (but naturally not the same shade of gray of the carpet it will eventually be ground in to).

I can't even do my own artwork because I don't know what I would do when the kids started to grab at -- or even asked politely to use -- my pastels or charcoal pencils or sketchbook paper. I don't know what I'd do ... so I just don't do it. Every year my husband plants an award-winning entryway garden, and every year I want to paint pictures of it. But I can't, because I'm afraid of the potential mess.

This afternoon, my four-year-old asked if we could paint rocks. We saw some painted rocks last week while we were camping, and he's been asking almost every day if we could make our own. I would have liked to put it off indefinitely (even though I knew he really wanted to paint rocks). I recently read a great post on another mom blog about how to contain the mess when painting with littles ... I didn't have all the supplies to carry it out, but I did the best I could. Pie and I portioned the paint in a muffin tin. He helped me mix the primaries to make the secondaries. I showed him how to wash his brush before changing colors, and he paid attention. And we painted rocks out in the driveway. My five-year-old bundle of energy even ended up joining us (and I cringed as he decided to mix colors in our communal palette and proceeded to add black pinstripes to his rock, Jackson Pollock style). But it worked out. I didn't panic. I didn't necessarily like the twelve different shades of green that we ended up with, or Bug's action-packed brush handling, but we did it, and the boys were happy.

I guess I am capable of surviving a mess. If Mommy is an artist, I have to assume that at least one of my kids has talent, too, and I should be nurturing that talent. I just have to keep reminding myself of days like today when the boys and I made art and lived to tell about it.

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  1. I can relate to the messiness fear! But you're right, you can handle the mess and your kids probably had a blast. Maybe it's easier to do it outside? I find if you expect the mess, it's a little easier to handle (A little

  2. This is so me! I recently let my 4 year old enter the world of glitter. I guess I got over my fear of having glitter everywhere...because it twas.